The Mall was used occasionally as a cattle pasture in the 19th Century and until 1907 also was a train deport. Trains from the South stopped at the Baltimore and Potomac Train Station at Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW - now the site of the National Gallery of Art (West Building)-and passengers got out to walk or take carrages several blocks to catch trains for the North at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station at New Jersey Avenue and C Street.

Both train stations were replaced by Union Station in 1907, and north-south trains were routed underground east of the Capitol beneath First Street.

The Gothic Baltimore and Potomac station, built in 1873 and shown in the 1900 photopraph above, extended onto the Mall and was surrounded by piles of coal. Trains are barely visible down Sixth Street.

The station was the site of the fatal shooting of President James A. Garfied, shot twice on July 2, 1881 by Charles C. Guiteau, a disgruntled and possibly deranged office seeker. The president died two months later. Guiteau was hanged in the City Jail near 19th and B streets SE, before a crowd of 250 persons who paid up to $300 each to witness the event.

The neoclassical National Gallery of Art was built between Fourth and Seventh streets NW in 1941. One of the largest marble buildings in the world; it was designed by John Russell Pope, who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and the National Archives. The nucleus of the National Gallery collection is the art once owned by Catherine the Great of Russia, which was acquired and donated to the gallery by Andrew Mellon, millionaire industrialist and secretary of the treasury under several presidents.