Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Ave. from the White House between 15th and 17th sts. N.W., is part of President's Park. The land became separate from the White House grounds when President Thomas Jefferson ordered Pennsylvania Avenue built in 1804; it was a soldier encampment, slave market and graveyard before becoming a public park.
Flanked by historic buildings like Blair House and Decatur House, this tree-shaded green space has a fountain and paths lined with benches. There are several monuments on the grounds; the two most prominent are the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in the center of the square and a statue of French general Comte Jean de Rochambeau, wearing a tri-corner hat and knee-length coat, standing at the southwest corner.
Due to its proximity to the Executive Mansion, Lafayette Park has long been a favored location for demonstrations and protests. A small site directly across from the iron fence protecting the White House North Lawn has been attended since 1981, when it was founded by two political activists protesting the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Concepcion Picciotto, a Spanish immigrant, was the primary guardian; over the years her peace vigil became a well-known presence and a regular stop on D.C. tour guide itineraries. In recent years Ms. Picciotto continued her watch despite declining health, assisted by younger activists until her death in January 2016.