Originally called the President's Park, Lafayette Park earned its name in 1824 when Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette made a visit there. During his say, the city welcomed Lafayette with numerous dinners and receptions, and by giving him a place of honor at the first commencement of Columbian College (now George Washington University). To further the honor, the park where the festivities took place was re-named in his honor.
For some time, though, the park was also called Jackson Park, for the statue of Andrew Jackson that long dominated the area. Installed to honor Jackson's role at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, it was the first equestrian statue erected in America. The four cannons at the base of the statue were captured by Jackson from the Spanish. The statue itself also contains metal from brass guns captured at the battle of Pensacola, Florida.
Four other statues in the park, one at each corner, pay tribute to foreign heroes who assisted the American colonies in their War for Independence. At the southeast corner is a memorial to Marquis de Lafayette, a major-general in Washington's Army. Also honored are Jean de Rochambeau, head of the French Expeditionary Force, General Frederick Von Stueben, the Prussian drillmaster of Valley Forge, de Grasse and d'Estaing of the Navy, and Thadeus Kosciuszko, a Polish general who defended Saratoga and West Point.
Northwest of the Jackson monument is the Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration. It was on this bench that Bernard Baruch, social philanthropist and advisor to presidents Woodrow Wilson through John F. Kennedy, would take a break. The bench was dedicated to Baruch in 1960 on his 90th birthday.
The park covers seven acres, as was originally purchased in 1791 for $469. It has served a wide variety of uses. Earlier, the park served as an open-air market, military encampment, horse-racing track, and even an open-air zoo. Now it is often used as a camp-out site for protestors hoping to catch the president's attention.
The White House