White House

From Jefferson to jumpers, two centuries of the White House fence

A workers installs metal spikes onto the existing White House fence in Washington, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The Secret Service says it will install sharp metal spikes on the White House fence after intruders scaled it twice in less than a year. In a news release, the Secret Service and National Park Service say the spikes are a temporary security measure until a long-term solution is found.
A workers installs metal spikes onto the existing White House fence in Washington, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The Secret Service says it will install sharp metal spikes on the White House fence after intruders scaled it twice in less than a year. In a news release, the Secret Service and National Park Service say the spikes are a temporary security measure until a long-term solution is found. AP

After a spate of people jumping over the fence at the White House, work began this month to make the fence tougher, including new spiky tops. The improvements are temporary until a long-term solution is found, with a design expected later this summer and construction to begin in 2016. The need to keep people out - and maybe livestock in - is hardly new. Ever since Thomas Jefferson in 1801, the White House has been changing the fence.

Here's a look at the history with information provided by the White House Historical Association.

c. 1801

http://www.loc.gov/item/93500120/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Etching of the White House, Dec. 8, 1833, with early version of the fence visible from the north side.

Thomas Jefferson installed a post-and-rail fence around the White House. At one end of the South Lawn, he erected an eight-foot wall with a sunken ditch to keep livestock from grazing in the garden.

August 1814

http://www.loc.gov/item/96522240/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Print of the White House after it was set afire during the War of 1812, circa 1814.

The British were not deterred by Jefferson's fence during the War of 1812, when they set the White House afire. A tornado and heavy rains in Washington put out many of the fires and pushed the British out of the city shortly after the blaze was started.

January 1817

http://www.loc.gov/item/2001698953/ 

Benjamin Latrobe, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Drawing of the south facade of the White House from January 1817.

1818-1819

http://www.loc.gov/item/88693243/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Aerial view of the White House grounds, including the circular drive to the north and the livestock wall on the South Lawn, circa 1857.

A semicircular driveway marked by eight stone piers and an iron fence and gates were built across the north front of the White House.

Parts of the wrought-iron fence and stone piers still stand today on Pennsylvania Avenue, with replica gates made from reinforced metal installed in 1976 for increased security.

The stone retaining wall on the south remained until 1873, and mischievous youths often painted their names on the wall.

1833

http://www.loc.gov/item/brh2003004950/PP/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Earliest known photo of the White House, showing the circular drive and iron fence on the north side, sometime during the 1860s.

Andrew Jackson built a long, low wrought-iron fence along the top of the stone wall on the facade across the north front.

c. 1864

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Library of Congress / White House Historical Association

Sentry on duty at the east gate on the north side of the White House, Civil War era.

1866 and 1871

Views of the east gate to the White House grounds from the early 20th century.

http://www.loc.gov/item/det1994009029/PP/ 

Photo by William Henry Jackson, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Gate outside the east portico of the White House, circa 1900.

Public streets were built on each side of the White House.

During World War II, as a major security measure, both West Executive and East Executive Avenues, which run close by each end of the White House, were closed to the public. West Executive Avenue, which runs between the White House and the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building, was turned into a staff parking lot and never reopened. East Executive Avenue, which runs between the White House and the Treasury Department, was closed to traffic in 1986 and converted into a service road.’

http://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2004000440/ 

Bain News Service, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Fence along the side of the White House, circa 1908.

1873

http://www.loc.gov/item/92510787/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Southern exterior of the White House with fence in foreground, sometime between 1890 and 1930.

Ulysses Grant built an iron fence on the south side to control the large crowds that gathered for the New Year’s Day reception and on other occasions.

1902

http://www.loc.gov/item/hec2009001378/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

Gate outside the north side of the White House sometime between 1905 and 1945.

The iron railing along the north side was replaced by a parapet wall because the architect restoring the White House thought it was too intrusive.

World War I era

http://www.loc.gov/item/hec2008005738/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

Gate on the west side of the White House sometime between 1914 and 1918. The west gate would later be closed during World War II to increase security.

http://www.loc.gov/item/hec2008005760/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

Picketing suffragettes at the gate of the White House, circa 1917.

http://www.loc.gov/item/npc2008013043/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection

East entrance to the White House with the Washington Monument, circa 1916.

c. 1926

http://www.loc.gov/item/hec2013004266/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

A crowd outside the White House gate circa 1926.

November 1929

http://www.loc.gov/item/hec2013005633/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

Secretary of War James William Good's funeral procession entering through the White House gate, Nov. 20, 1929.

1937

http://www.loc.gov/item/npc2007017824/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Original iron White House fence with spears, circa 1929.

The 1818 and 1873 wrought iron fences were replaced by a steel fence topped with tall bronze spears.

The $50,000 independent offices appropriations bill reported to the House of Representatives included $1,500 to repair and paint the White House fence.

1941

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and start of World War II, the White House grounds were closed to everyone except those who had appointments. Gatehouses were installed.

1942

As part of an effort to collect metal for weapons during World War II, 1,600 feet of iron spikes that were taken down in 1937 were taken to a junkyard to be scrapped.

April 1945

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National Archives and Records Administration / White House Historical Association

FDR's casket passes through the White House gates, April 14, 1945.

August 1945

http://www.loc.gov/item/2008680919/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

A crowd celebrates V-J day outside the White House on Aug. 15, 1945.

With the conclusion of World War II, crowds gathered to celebrate outside the White House. Harry S. Truman went outside to shake hands through the White House fence with those gathered outside on the day Japan surrendered.

March 1963

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National Archives and Records Administration / White House Historical Association

President Kennedy entering the White House grounds through the North Gate across from Lafayette Park, March 28, 1963

1965

http://www.loc.gov/item/2010646065/ 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Picketers protest the Vietnam War outside the White House fence on Jan. 19, 1968.

The White House fence was reset into a new foundation.

April 1966

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Lyndon Baines Johnson Library / White House Historical Association

President Johnson greeting guests outside the White House gates, April 1966

1969-1974

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National Archives and Records Administration / White House Historical Association

President Nixon greets crowds through the White House fence.

1976

The 1818 wrought iron gates on Pennsylvania Avenue were replaced by reinforced steel gates built to withstand car crashes.

1983

Low concrete walls were erected after the fatal attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

1988

http://www.loc.gov/item/2011632156/ 

Carol Highsmith, courtesy of the Library of Congress

North side of the White House with bollards in front of the fence, sometime between 1980 and 2006.

Thick 38-inch high concrete posts were placed on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the fence. They replaced the 1983 low concrete walls.

1995

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Pete Souza/Chicago Tribune

An out-of-town visitor takes in the view of the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue, March 9, 1999.

Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to traffic following the Oklahoma City bombing.

2004

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Chuck Kennedy/KRT

Pedestrians walk along the newly reopened section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House November 9, 2004.

Pennsylvania Avenue became a pedestrian-friendly space where people could stroll and bike between Lafayette Park and the White House fence.

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Chuck Kennedy/KRT

Pennsylvania Avenue was reopened to pedestrian traffic in front of the Blair House and White House November 9, 2004.

2015

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Evan Vucci/AP

A workers installs metal spikes onto the existing White House fence on July 1, 2015. The Secret Service says it will install sharp metal spikes on the White House fence after intruders scaled it twice in less than a year.

Sharp metal points will be installed on the top of the fence to deter intruders.

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Evan Vucci/AP

Workers install metal spikes onto the existing White House fence. The Secret Service and National Park Service say the spikes are a temporary security measure until a long-term solution is found.

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