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Meridian Hill Park

Meridian Hill Park

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Meridian Hill Park, is located in the Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 neighborhood of Columbia Heights
Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.
Columbia Heights is a neighborhood in central Washington, D.C.-Geography:Located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., Columbia Heights borders the neighborhoods of Shaw, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Park View, Pleasant Plains, and Petworth. On the eastern side is Howard University...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The 12 acres (49,000 m²) of landscaped grounds are maintained by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 as part of Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is a large urban natural area with public park facilities that bisects Washington, D.C. The park is administered by the National Park Service.-Rock Creek Park:The main section of the park contains , or , along the Rock Creek Valley...

, but are not contiguous with the main part of that park. Meridian Hill Park is bordered by 15th, 16th, W, and Euclid Streets NW.

History


In 1819, John Porter erected a mansion on the grounds and called it "Meridian Hill" because it was located on the "White House meridian" (see Washington meridian
Washington meridian
The Washington meridian was one of four prime meridians of the United States which passed through Washington, D.C.. The four which have been specified are:# through the Capitol# through the White House# through the old Naval Observatory...

). During the 19th century the environs of Meridian Hill became host to Columbian College (1821), later renamed George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

. Columbia Road was named for the college, and formed the northern boundary of the original campus. Prior to the Civil War, the mansion grounds became a pleasure park for the area. During the war, Union troops encamped there in Camp Cameron "on Georgetown Heights". In 1883, the writer Joaquin Miller
Joaquin Miller
Joaquin Miller was the pen name of the colorful American poet Cincinnatus Heine Miller , nicknamed the "Poet of the Sierras".-Early years and family:...

 built a cabin
Joaquin Miller Cabin
The Joaquin Miller Cabin is an historic structure situated in Washington, DC's Rock Creek Park. Built by the American poet, essayist and fabulist Joaquin Miller, it represents the only known example of late 19th century Rustic-style log cabin in Washington, D.C...

 in Meridian Hill Park. The cabin is now located in Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park
Rock Creek Park is a large urban natural area with public park facilities that bisects Washington, D.C. The park is administered by the National Park Service.-Rock Creek Park:The main section of the park contains , or , along the Rock Creek Valley...

.

Much of the impetus for creating a public park on this portion of 16th Street came from Mary Foote Henderson
Mary Foote Henderson
Mary Foote Henderson was born in Seneca Falls, New York, the daughter of Eunice Newton and Elisha Foote, a prominent lawyer and judge, and the niece of Senator Samuel Foote of Connecticut...

, wife of Missouri senator John Brooks Henderson and local resident. She lobbied Congress with several plans for the neighborhood before getting approval for the park, including supporting a plan by architect Franklin W. Smith to construct a colossal presidential mansion on Meridian Hill to replace the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

.

The land was originally part of the Columbian College grounds. In 1910, after the school moved to its current location in Foggy Bottom
Foggy Bottom
Foggy Bottom is one of the oldest late 18th and 19th-century neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. The area is thought to have received the name because its riverside location made it susceptible to concentrations of fog and industrial smoke, an atmospheric trait that did not prevent the neighborhood...

, the federal government bought the land, and in 1914 the Interior Department hired landscape architect
Landscape architecture
Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions...

 George Burnap to design a grand urban park modeled on parks found in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an capitals. His plans, later modified by Horace Peaslee, included an Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

-style terraced fountain in the lower half and gardens in a French Baroque style in the upper half. The walls and fountains were built with concrete aggregate, a new building material consisting of concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 mixed with small pebbles. After two decades under construction, the grounds were given park status in 1936 and have been designated a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

.

In the 1970s and 80s, crime became widespread in the surrounding neighborhoods. Meridian Hill Park became a haven for drug dealing and was considered unsafe, especially at night. After the murder of a local teenager near the park in 1990, a group of citizens formed "Friends of Meridian Hill Park". They organized volunteer nighttime patrols and lobbied the National Park Service to make improvements to the park.

On Sunday afternoons during the warm weather months, people gather from 3–9:00 p.m. in the upper park to dance and participate in a drum circle. The activity has been held in the park since the 1950s, and attracts professional drummers from time to time.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 in 1994.

Statues and features



A central feature of the park is the thirteen basin Cascading Waterfall
Cascading Waterfall
Cascading Waterfall, is a public artwork by American artist John Joseph Earley, located Meridian Hill Park, which is in Washington, DC, United States. The Cascading Waterfall was originally surveyed as part of the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey in 1994...

 in the lower-level formal garden. The fountains are designed with a recirculating water system which, through an elaborate series of pumps, supplies water to two large circular fountains on the upper level, and cascade found on the lower.

Statues

  • Serenity
    Serenity (Clara)
    Serenity is a public artwork by Spanish artist Josep Clarà, located at Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C., United States. "Serenity" was originally surveyed as part of the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey in 1993.-Description:...

    by sculptor Jose Clara, dedicated to the memory of Lt. Commander William Henry Scheutze (USN);
  • Joan of Arc
    Joan of Arc (DuBois)
    Joan of Arc is a public artwork by Paul Dubois, located at Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C., United States of America. Joan of Arc was originally surveyed as part of the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey in 1994.-Description:...

    ,
    a gift from the "Ladies of France in Exile in New York" in 1922. It is a bronze copy of a 1889 statue by Paul Dubois. The original is at the Reims Cathedral in France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    . In a city of many equestrian statues, this is the only one to depict a woman.
  • Dante
    Dante Alighieri (Ximenes)
    Dante Alighieri, is a public artwork by Italian artist Ettore Ximenes, located at Meridian Hill Park in Washington, D.C., United States. Dante Alighieri was originally surveyed as part of the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey in 1994...

    by Ettore Ximenes
    Ettore Ximenes
    Ettore Ximenes was an Italian sculptor of mostly religious and mythological subjects.- Biography:...

    ;
  • James Buchanan Memorial
    James Buchanan Memorial
    The James Buchanan Memorial is a bronze and granite memorial in the Southeast corner of Meridian Hill Park Northwest, Washington, D.C.. It was designed by architect William Gorden Beecher, and sculpted by Maryland artist Hans Schuler....

    , the 15th president of the United States
    President of the United States
    The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

    , sculpted by Hans Schuler
    Hans Schuler
    Hans K. Schuler was a German-born American sculptor and monument maker. He was the first American sculptor ever to win the Salon Gold Medal. His works are in several important museum collections, and he also created many public monuments, mostly for locations in Maryland and in the Washington,...

    .

External links