One of Washington, D.C.'s earliest residential neighborhoods, Southwest was radically altered in the 1950s and 60s when the area was razed in the name of urban renewal. The mixed legacy of this redevelopment lives on: a half century later an encyclopedic inventory of stoic mid-century buildings provides a case study in the best and worst of an era's architecture, urban planning, and the unintended consequences of uprooting communities.


The National Information Center, located off the 1st floor entrance to the Yates Building, offers opportunities to learn about the history of the Forest Service, current issues, and the iconic Smokey Bear.

Smokey's Office

Rudy Wendelin's famous painting, Smokey's Fan Mail, inspired Smokey's office setting. The animatronic bear's eyes move back and forth as he reads his fan mail, and greets his visitors with a friendly reminder: "Only you..."

The Lodge

After a short walk through a virtual forest complete with videos of the Forest Service today, learn about the history of the agency with our five open-captioned videos. Modeled after a 1920s rustic lodge, and fashioned out of pine, the lodge features hand-painted rugs. Original Forest Service artifacts from the first half of the century are tucked away in glass-enclosed cabinets.

Rotating Displays

The Information Center rotates displays covering topics that deal with current Forest Service issues. Featured displays have covered a wide range of topics including wildfires, pollinators, wildflowers and Forest Service history. These displays are located across from Smokey's Office as you enter the Center.

Last Reviewed: 2022-04-19