The National Arboretum is a natural museum of trees and other plant life that seeks to enhance the value of plant life not just in the Washington, D.C., area, but on a national scale. Established in 1927, the National Arboretum cultivates its collection both for research and educational purposes.
By the beginning of the 1900s,
casual discussion of constructing a national arboretum in the United States had
been undertaken, as arboretums had existed worldwide dating back to the 1600s.
It was not until 1901, however, that a commission was put together in order to
inquire about the possibility of constructing one in the United States.
Although a great deal of inquiry was put into the idea, and though it was
eventually put before Congress, the actual execution was delayed indefinitely,
both due to resistance of the government, as well as the advent of World War I.
However, a group called the American Association of Nurserymen worked to set
the idea in motion in the 1920s, and by 1924, they had gained enough support to
propose a bill. After several re-issuings of the bill, it was finally passed by
Congress and brought into law on March 4th, 1927.
By 1929, 190 acres had been
acquired for construction of the arboretum, which was enough for work to begin.
Though work began slowly on the arboretum, it quickly came to a standstill in
1931 due to both topographical issues, as well as a great cut in funding
brought about by the Great Depression. While this seemed as though the
construction of the arboretum would be crippled, the committee was given
financial aid from several outside sources over the next decade, and by 1946,
the arboretum had reached the pinnacle of its collection. Today, the Arboretum
sports numerous plants and exhibits for both research and education of
visitors, as well as a Herbarium, and it continues to put forth publications
that stem from the Arboretum’s research.