(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced that the construction of the District’s permanent Black Lives Matter Plaza monument at 16th Street between K Street and H Street NW is officially complete.
“When we created Black Lives Matter Plaza in June 2020, we sent a strong message that Black Lives Matter, and that power has always been and always will be with well-meaning people. Today, we have transformed the mural into a monument,” said Mayor Bowser. “One of my proudest memories of Black Lives Matter Plaza is when, in his final days, Congressman John Lewis came to see it for himself. He recognized Black Lives Matter Plaza as good trouble, and we know it will remain a gathering place for reflection, planning and action, as we work toward a more perfect union.”
In June 2020, Mayor Bowser unveiled the iconic art installation on the two-block stretch of 16th Street NW that leads to the White House, transforming it to pedestrian-only space and naming the area Black Lives Matter Plaza. The mural was unveiled just four days after unidentifiable federal forces roamed local DC streets and peaceful demonstrators, protesting police brutality and racial injustice, were met with violence and tear gas between Lafayette Park and St. John’s Church, near the current site of the plaza. The iconic mural was created overnight by the Department of Public Works and the MuralsDC team, whose efforts were supported by DDOT. Mayor Bowser also officially renamed that segment of 16th Street NW as Black Lives Matter Plaza NW, which the Council of the District of Columbia approved in October 2020.
The 48-foot-wide mural would become a permanent installation with a redesign of the project’s roadway portion to accommodate vehicular traffic and serve as a safe gathering space for pedestrians wanting to fully experience the mural’s impact.
“With 16th Street NW being a critical federal highway route and the collaboration needed among all local stakeholders, this was a very large and prominent project for our team,” said DDOT Director Everett Lott. “We are very proud that with the Mayor’s support, we were able to implement an accelerated work schedule and so quickly deliver it as a national landmark for everyone to enjoy.”
In July 2021, construction started on the permanent installation, which included the following:
- One vehicular lane in each direction of 16th Street NW (northbound and southbound) providing access to area properties (hotel, church, offices, etc.)
- Colored pavers used for the roadway surface instead of traditional asphalt
- A bright yellow “BLACK LIVES MATTER” mural with durable, yellow thermoplastic paint on top of a bonded concrete
- 14’ Center Pedestrian Plaza
- Cobble stone pavement, lighted bollards, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible push buttons for traffic signal, and refreshed crosswalk markings
The recent work to transform Black Lives Matter Plaza cost $4.8 million. In the coming months, an additional $3 million investment will create a more cohesive public space around the monument by reconstructing nearby sidewalks, installing commemorative works, and adding new benches, lighting, signage, and street trees.