Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do you call it Meridian Hill or Malcolm X Park?

Meridian Hill Park DCentric, one of public radio station WAMU's politics blogs, has an interesting poll: is it Meridian Hill or Malcolm X Park?

The official name, as probably everyone knows, is Meridian Hill Park. It's called that because many years ago, 16th Street was proclaimed as the American Prime Meridian (or Washington Meridian), sort of like Greenwich is 0 degrees longitude now. There actually used to be an obelisk on the site of the park in 1804, which is long gone. Here's the Park Service's history page, which also mentions that it was the home of Columbian College in the 1800s, which later moved to Foggy Bottom and became GW. And not mentioned, but during the Civil War, the college became a hospital called Carver Hospital and poet Walt Whitman worked there.

As for the Malcolm X name, the Adams Morgan Heritage Trail explains it on sign 2:

In the 1960s it became a staging ground for political demonstrations, and in 1970 activist Angela Davis unof´Čücially renamed it Malcolm X Park. 
Apparently she was giving a speech there, and the name stuck. (If you know more, please leave it in the comments! And the sign also mentions the Henderson Castle, more on that here and here.)

So that's the story. What do you think of the name? It looks like Meridian Hill has a slight lead in the WAMU poll.

In any case, I think we can all agree that it's a nice place to relax, get some exercise, go sledding, or take in a drum circle.

Photo by NCinDC


  1. I call it Malcolm X--you know, Meridian Hil, with the fountains? Every. Single. Time.

  2. I like that it has both names, since they both speak to the history of the area. It does end up with a lot of confusion, though.

    Friend new to DC: Guys, I learned about this cool drum circle on Sundays!
    Me: Oh, at Meridian Hill Park?
    FNTDC: No, at Malcolm X Park
    Me: *facepalm*


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