Since President Thomas Jefferson had the first fence erected around the White House in 1801, there has been a constant tension between creating a safe house for the president, his staff and his family, and allowing the White House to be accessible to the public.
“Trying to balance protecting a location that is a museum, an office building, a residence to the first family and a symbol of freedom is very difficult,” a person familiar with Secret Service policies and procedures told ABC News. “You want to give the vast majority of visitors who are there for the right reasons an opportunity to enjoy it, [but] also want to make sure security is as aggressive and visible as possible in keeping people out.”
In fact, according to the White House Historical Association, the fence itself hasn’t been changed since 1976 when the wrought iron was reinforced with steel. Since then, security measures have been boosted around the fence, including closing Pennsylvania Avenue to vehicle traffic in 1995.