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Zero Milestone

Zero Milestone

Overview

The Zero Milestone is a zero mile marker
Zero mile marker
Zero mile markers were markers where drivers could set their odometers to follow directions in early guide books.Also known as control stations or control points, the markers or landmarks were locations that allowed travelers to have a precise point to start the travel using directions in early...

 monument in 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....

 intended as the initial milestone
Milestone
A milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road or boundary at intervals of one mile or occasionally, parts of a mile. They are typically located at the side of the road or in a median. They are alternatively known as mile markers, mileposts or mile posts...

 from which all road distances in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 should be reckoned when it was built. At present, only roads in the Washington, D.C. area have distances measured from it.

The monument stands just south of 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...

 at the north edge of the Ellipse, within President's Park
President's Park
President's Park, located in Washington, D.C., encompasses the White House, a visitor center, Lafayette Square, and The Ellipse. President's Park was the original name of Lafayette Square. The current President's Park is administered by the National Park Service.-White House:Washington, D.C...

. Atop the monument is a bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 16-point compass rose
Compass rose
A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions — North, East, South and West - and their intermediate points. It is also the term for the graduated markings found on the traditional...

 with a very small worn-down pyramid at its center whose top serves as a National Geodetic Survey benchmark
Benchmark (surveying)
The term bench mark, or benchmark, originates from the chiseled horizontal marks that surveyors made in stone structures, into which an angle-iron could be placed to form a "bench" for a leveling rod, thus ensuring that a leveling rod could be accurately repositioned in the same place in the future...

 (HV1847).
  • Coordinates: 38°53′42.38757"N 77°02′11.57375"W (NAD83)
  • Altitude: 8.384 m (27.507 ft) (NAVD88)


Designed by Washington architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 Horace W.
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Encyclopedia

The Zero Milestone is a zero mile marker
Zero mile marker
Zero mile markers were markers where drivers could set their odometers to follow directions in early guide books.Also known as control stations or control points, the markers or landmarks were locations that allowed travelers to have a precise point to start the travel using directions in early...

 monument in 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....

 intended as the initial milestone
Milestone
A milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road or boundary at intervals of one mile or occasionally, parts of a mile. They are typically located at the side of the road or in a median. They are alternatively known as mile markers, mileposts or mile posts...

 from which all road distances in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 should be reckoned when it was built. At present, only roads in the Washington, D.C. area have distances measured from it.

Location


The monument stands just south of 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...

 at the north edge of the Ellipse, within President's Park
President's Park
President's Park, located in Washington, D.C., encompasses the White House, a visitor center, Lafayette Square, and The Ellipse. President's Park was the original name of Lafayette Square. The current President's Park is administered by the National Park Service.-White House:Washington, D.C...

. Atop the monument is a bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 16-point compass rose
Compass rose
A compass rose, sometimes called a windrose, is a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions — North, East, South and West - and their intermediate points. It is also the term for the graduated markings found on the traditional...

 with a very small worn-down pyramid at its center whose top serves as a National Geodetic Survey benchmark
Benchmark (surveying)
The term bench mark, or benchmark, originates from the chiseled horizontal marks that surveyors made in stone structures, into which an angle-iron could be placed to form a "bench" for a leveling rod, thus ensuring that a leveling rod could be accurately repositioned in the same place in the future...

 (HV1847).
  • Coordinates: 38°53′42.38757"N 77°02′11.57375"W (NAD83)
  • Altitude: 8.384 m (27.507 ft) (NAVD88)

Description


Designed by Washington architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 Horace W. Peaslee, the monolith
Monolith
A monolith is a geological feature such as a mountain, consisting of a single massive stone or rock, or a single piece of rock placed as, or within, a monument...

 is about 2 feet square and about 4 feet high. It is made of precambrian
Precambrian
The Precambrian is the name which describes the large span of time in Earth's history before the current Phanerozoic Eon, and is a Supereon divided into several eons of the geologic time scale...

 Milford granite
Milford granite (Massachusetts)
Milford granite is a Proterozoic igneous rock located in and around the town of Milford, Massachusetts, covering an area of approximately 100 sq km, as mapped by the USGS. It is described as a light-gray to pale orange-pink biotite granite. The biotite is typically in clots or short streaks...

 from Milford
Milford, Massachusetts
Milford is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. It had a population of 27,999 at the 2010 census.For geographic and demographic information on the census-designated place Milford, constituting the center of the town, please see the article Milford ,...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, light pinkish to greenish gray, with spots of black biotite mica. The bronze disk on top of the milestone is an adaptation from ancient portolan chart
Portolan chart
Portolan charts are navigational maps based on realistic descriptions of harbours and coasts. They were first made in the 14th century in Italy, Portugal and Spain...

s of the so-called wind roses or compass roses from the points of which extended radial lines to all parts of the then known world—the prototype of the modern mariner's compass.

The monument has engravings on four surfaces:
  • North: ZERO MILESTONE
  • East: STARTING POINT OF SECOND TRANSCONTINENTAL MOTOR CONVOY OVER THE BANKHEAD HIGHWAY, JUNE 14, 1920
  • South: POINT FOR THE MEASUREMENT OF DISTANCES FROM WASHINGTON ON HIGHWAYS OF THE UNITED STATES
  • West: STARTING POINT OF FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL MOTOR CONVOY OVER THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY, JULY 7, 1919


In addition, a "brass plate placed on the ground at the north base" shown below, contains the following inscription.
  • THE U.S. COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY DETERMINED THE LATITUDE, LONGITUDE AND ELEVATION OF THE ZERO MILESTONE AUTHORIZED BY ACT OF CONGRESS JUNE 5, 1920 DEDICATED JUNE 4, 1923


History


In his plan for Washington, Pierre Charles L'Enfant
Pierre Charles L'Enfant
Pierre Charles L'Enfant was a French-born American architect and civil engineer best known for designing the layout of the streets of Washington, D.C..-Early life:...

 intended a column to be placed 1 mile east of the Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

, "from which all distances of places through the continent were to be calculated." Instead, in 1804, the Jefferson Stone or Jefferson Pier
Jefferson Pier
Jefferson Pier, Jefferson Stone, or the Jefferson Pier Stone, in Washington, D.C., marks the second prime meridian of the United States even though it was never officially recognized, either by presidential proclamation or by a resolution or act of Congress...

was placed on the meridian of the White House due west of the Capitol (119 m WNW of the center of the Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

) to mark the 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...

, 77° 02' 12.0".

The current Zero Milestone monument was conceived by Good Roads Movement
Good Roads Movement
The Good Roads Movement occurred in the United States between the late 1870s and the 1920s. Advocates for improved roads led by bicyclists turned local agitation into a national political movement....

 advocate Dr. S. M. Johnson, formally proposed on June 7, 1919. He was inspired by ancient Rome's
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 Golden Milestone located in the Forum
Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum...

. On July 7, 1919, a temporary marker for the Zero Milestone was dedicated on the Ellipse south of the White House during ceremonies launching the Army's
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 first attempt to send a convoy of military vehicles across the country to San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

. On June 5, 1920, Congress authorized the Secretary of War to erect the current monument, design to be approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and installed at no expense to the government. Dr. Johnson took charge of the details and raised donations for the design and construction. The permanent Zero Milestone was dedicated in a ceremony on June 4, 1923.

See also

  • Benchmarking (geolocating)
    Benchmarking (geolocating)
    Benchmarking is an activity in which individuals or teams of participants go out and find benchmarks . They typically then log their finds online...

  • Datum (geodesy)
  • Geocaching
    Geocaching
    Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world....

  • Kilometre Zero
    Kilometre Zero
    In many countries, Kilometre Zero or similar terms in other languages, is a particular location , from which distances are traditionally measured...

  • Kilometre Zero (Bucharest)
    Kilometre Zero (Bucharest)
    The Kilometre Zero monument located in central Bucharest, Romania, in front of Saint George's Church, was created by Constantin Baraski in 1938....

  • London Stone
    London Stone
    The London Stone is a historic stone that is now set within a Portland stone surround and iron grille on Cannon Street, in the City of London.-Features:...

  • Zero Kilometre Stone (Budapest)
    Zero Kilometre Stone (Budapest)
    The Zero Kilometre Stone is a 3 m high limestone sculpture in Budapest, forming a zero sign, with an inscription on its pedestal reading "KM" for kilometres. This stone marks the reference point from which all road distances to Budapest are measured in the country...


External links