Changing Fences with Changing Times
The White House, along with the Statue of Liberty, is the ultimate symbol of American patriotism. Every day, thousands and thousands of people flock to Pennsylvania Avenue to look at the famous building where the President lives and conducts business that determines the success and wealth of the American people. But not all visitors arrive at the White House with the best of intentions, and White House security is trying to keep up.
The White House fence is currently about seven feet tall, and plenty of people have taken advantage of its unintimidating height to jump over. There are a plethora of news stories proclaiming, “Man Jumps White House Fence, Gets Tackled!” or “White House Fence Jumper Released from Custody.” Only one month ago a man threw his backpack over the fence, jumped the fence, and was immediately arrested by the Secret Service.
These people circumventing White House security have their own reasons ranging from visiting the President to sneaking in explosives. In an effort to more effectively keep out intruders, the U.S Secret Service and National Park Service have proposed a tougher, taller, and stronger fence that would double the fence’s height to about 14 feet.
But swapping the fence in front of such a major landmark isn’t simple. The U.S Commission of Fine Arts needs to consider the street view, fence design, and historical context of the fence before it is formally approved. The committees in charge of the fence want to ensure that the fence will still look aesthetically pleasing, since the goal is not to enforce security that ruins the appeal of the White House.
If you’re planning to visit Pennsylvania Avenue, you have until at least 2018 before construction on the new fence begins. When changes do begin, there will also be “anti-climb and intrusion-detection technology, while respecting the historical significance and visitor experience at the White House,” says the joint statement from the Secret Service and Park Service.