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Malcolm X Park

Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1

Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, is a diamond in the rough in Washington DC.  The site that became Malcolm X Park was once the home of Columbian College, predecessor organization to George Washington University.  The site was vacated by the college in 1910.  Construction for the park began in 1914, and twenty-two years later, in 1936, Meridian Hill was formally designated a park.  In 1969, a bill was introduced to Congress to formally rename the park in honor of civil rights leader Malcolm X.  The bill failed, but the park still carries the name informally.  During this same time, with the park’s beginning to show its age, Malcolm X Park became a dangerous place, particularly at night, gaining a reputation as a den of muggers and drug dealers.  However, in 1990, the “Friends of Meridian Hill”, a group comprised of local volunteers, began work to take back the park.  Crime was driven down 98%, and improvements were made to the park, making it shine once again.

Today, Malcolm X Park is considered relatively safe, and is a shining example of neoclassical park design.  Many cultural events are held in the park, including a drumming circle every Sunday where food is also served to the homeless.  Additionally, Malcolm X Park is a popular gathering site for many political demonstrations.

This set is comprised of material shot on two different days – May 11, 2005 and July 6, 2005.  I photographed the upper level of the park on May 11, and but owing to the fact that the fountains were not running on May 11, I returned on July 6 to photograph the lower level.


Entering the park from the rear at the corner of 16th and Euclid Streets NW, the most noticeable feature of the park from the street is the wall around the park's perimeter.

Entering the park from the rear at the corner of 16th and Euclid Streets NW, the most noticeable feature of the park from the street is the wall around the park’s perimeter.


The upper level of Malcolm X Park is a wide grassy mall, shaded by trees around the edges.

The upper level of Malcolm X Park is a wide grassy mall, shaded by trees around the edges.

The upper level of Malcolm X Park is a wide grassy mall, shaded by trees around the edges.


On this particular day, sprinklers were in place to water the grass.

On this particular day, sprinklers were in place to water the grass.


Malcolm X Park is situated in an area that's mostly residential.  Quite a few apartment buildings are located on the streets surrounding the park (one to the east seen here), as well as Meridian Hill Hall, a dorm for Howard University.

Malcolm X Park is situated in an area that’s mostly residential.  Quite a few apartment buildings are located on the streets surrounding the park (one to the east seen here), as well as Meridian Hill Hall, a dorm for Howard University.


Benches line the sidewalks on both sides of the park.  These benches recently underwent a restoration and as such, most are in extremely good condition.  And with many covered by trees, they provide a nice shady spot to relax.

Benches line the sidewalks on both sides of the park.  These benches recently underwent a restoration and as such, most are in extremely good condition.  And with many covered by trees, they provide a nice shady spot to relax.

Benches line the sidewalks on both sides of the park.  These benches recently underwent a restoration and as such, most are in extremely good condition.  And with many covered by trees, they provide a nice shady spot to relax.


Four months after Inauguration Day, two benches still wore graffiti from the rally held in the park.  One carries a penned message about George W. Bush, and the other carries a spray-painted anarchist symbol.  Four months after Inauguration Day, two benches still wore graffiti from the rally held in the park.  One carries a penned message about George W. Bush, and the other carries a spray-painted anarchist symbol.

Four months after Inauguration Day, two benches still wore graffiti from the rally held in the park.  One carries a penned message about George W. Bush, and the other carries a spray-painted anarchist symbol.


Tall trees provide a tremendous amount of shade, forming a green canopy along the sides of the park.  Tall trees provide a tremendous amount of shade, forming a green canopy along the sides of the park.

Tall trees provide a tremendous amount of shade, forming a green canopy along the sides of the park.

Tall trees provide a tremendous amount of shade, forming a green canopy along the sides of the park.


During my visit, a group of children was practicing lacrosse on the upper level.

During my visit, a group of children was practicing lacrosse on the upper level.

During my visit, a group of children was practicing lacrosse on the upper level.


At the south end of the upper level, overlooking the fountains below, is Washington's only equestrienne statue, depicting Joan of Arc on horseback.  At the south end of the upper level, overlooking the fountains below, is Washington's only equestrienne statue, depicting Joan of Arc on horseback.

At the south end of the upper level, overlooking the fountains below, is Washington’s only equestrienne statue, depicting Joan of Arc on horseback.

At the south end of the upper level, overlooking the fountains below, is Washington's only equestrienne statue, depicting Joan of Arc on horseback.


Looking down to the lower level from Joan of Arc, we find the most distinctive feature of Malcolm X Park - a thirteen-tier Italian Renaissance-style fountain cascading down the hill for a total length of 90 feet.

Looking down to the lower level from Joan of Arc, we find the most distinctive feature of Malcolm X Park – a thirteen-tier Italian Renaissance-style fountain cascading down the hill for a total length of 90 feet.


At the top of the fountain is a small building, housing a set of public restrooms.

At the top of the fountain is a small building, housing a set of public restrooms.


The fountain begins here against the building, cascading down two levels to a small pool.

The fountain begins here against the building, cascading down two levels to a small pool.


The main cascade takes the water down thirteen steps all the way to the bottom.  The main cascade takes the water down thirteen steps all the way to the bottom.

The main cascade takes the water down thirteen steps all the way to the bottom.


Each level is about two feet below the one before it.  Each level is about two feet below the one before it.

Each level is about two feet below the one before it.

Each level is about two feet below the one before it.  Each level is about two feet below the one before it.


Three birds use the edge of a step as an impromptu birdbath.

Three birds use the edge of a step as an impromptu birdbath.


Continuing down the fountain, water can be seen falling from one pool to the next.  Continuing down the fountain, water can be seen falling from one pool to the next.

Continuing down the fountain, water can be seen falling from one pool to the next.

Continuing down the fountain, water can be seen falling from one pool to the next.


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Part 1 – Part 2

Part 1