Some might know it informally as “Malcolm X Park”, but the official name of this historical landmark is Meridian Hill Park. Since the creation of Washington, D.C. the hill, which sits exactly north of the White House, had been marked by President Jefferson as the line known as the prime meridian—thus, the “White House Meridian”.
The hill had been a point of interest throughout history. It was first owned by a merchant, Robert Peter, who consequentially named the land “Peter’s Hill. Following was a naval officer, David Commodore, who renamed it to Meridian Hill and built a mansion—which burned. it was during 1887 that a move towards public use of the land went into action–through John Brooks Henderson and namely his wife Mary Foote Henderson. Fiery and perseverant, Mary made ambitious proposals for the area which were rejected until she settled on the idea of a park.
In 1910 Meridian Hill Park was established, and construction stretched for almost two decades. Much inspiration was taken from European parks; the lower half comprises of a terraced fountain resembling an Italian Renaissance style, and the upper half a garden in French Baroque style; the garden is now more of an open mall to gather and perform, and the fountain, named Cascading Waterfall, is one of the notable features of the park.
The park had been a hub for Black activists during the Black Power Movement, thus earning its nickname “Malcolm X Park”. Today, it remains a frequented place by locals. The Drum Circle, which takes place on Sunday afternoons into the evenings (when it’s warm), is a popular activity in the park where people gather to dance or play drums. Also present throughout the park are statues of significant figures such as Joan of Arc, Dante, and President James Buchanan.