In Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan for the city of Washington, the President’s Palace projects into a large public square open on three sides, forming a hub for seven major radiating streets. The shape of the park was not firmly established until 1824, when Pennsylvania Avenue separated the White House grounds from Lafayette Park. The park was named in honor of the French hero, General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, during his American tour of 1824-1825.
In the early 1830s architect Robert Mills suggested enlarging the nearby executive department offices by covering the entire park with a single, vast building. Although the design was praised by prominent architects, including Thomas U. Walter, local residents vehemently opposed it. In 1851, as part of Andrew Jackson Downing's design for the White House grounds, Lafayette Square was landscaped in a picturesque manner.
The park’s statuary history began with the erection of the central equestrian figure of President Andrew Jackson, erected in 1853. At each of the park's four corners are statues of foreign military leaders who assisted in securing American liberty in the Revolutionary War. Those individuals include France’s General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette and Major General Comte Jean de Rochambeau, Poland’s General Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Prussia’s (Germany’s) Major General Baron Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben.