Day 89

Adams Morgan (June 26, 2020)

We started today’s walk in Meridian Hill Park. In many ways it is the quintessential urban park. On the weekends it is an exciting hub, attracting large numbers of local residents who picnic, read, sleep from hammocks hung between the trees, or just enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Many come to join the large and enthusiastic drum circle that has been taking place in the park on Sunday afternoons for as long as anyone can remember.

The park gets its official name by way of Thomas Jefferson. He believed that the nation’s capital city should set a new American Meridian, a north-south line running through both poles and the American continent. In doing so, Jefferson wanted to reinforce America’s independence from Britain. Surveyors set the new zero degrees Longitude line as running through the White House which is exactly due South of the park.

At a political rally in 1969, activist Angela Davis proposed renaming the park after Malcolm X and it is, indeed, still known by many locals as Malcolm X Park. The park does not include statues of Malcolm X or Angela Davis, but there is a statue of at least one famous activist. A statue of Joan of Arc was gifted by the Ladies of France in Exile to the women of the United States in 1922. It is a bronze copy of an 1889 statue by Paul Dubois that stands at Reims Cathedral in France. In a city full of equestrian statues, it is apparently the only one of a woman on horseback.

The central feature of the park is a 13-basin cascading waterfall. Unfortunately, it always seems to be in need of repair and we can’t recall actually seeing it in use. Hopefully, one day . . .

Continuing our walk through Adams Morgan we passed a number of beautiful apartment buildings and townhouses.

We liked this small overgrown apartment building.

There was something sculptural about the red pipes and meters outside one building.

We passed H.D. Cooke elementary school, a District public school serving approximately 400 students.

Old Cooke
New Cooke

One particularly beautiful building we passed was Meridian House which is the headquarters of the Meridian International Center, a non-partisan, non-profit, public diplomacy organization. The house was designed by American architect John Russell Pope and was built in 1920 for Ambassador Irwin Boyle Laughlin. The property was sold to the Meridian International Center in 1960 with a grant from the Ford Foundation.

The most imposing building we walked by was the Scottish Rite Of Freemasonary Temple on 16th Street.

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