Meridian Hill Park Cascade - Washington DC
Meridian Hill Park is a formal, landscaped park in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, with terraces, pools, balustrades and a large cascade in the Italian baroque style. It is, in many people’s estimation, the jewel of the District parks system.
Land for the park was purchased in 1910 and construction began in 1912, but was never completed. In 1935-36, the PWA stepped in to fund completion of the park by providing a grant of $145,000.
A 1936 article in the Washington Daily News described the work being done: “Cascades completed and placed in operation. South terraces graded; top soiled and seeded; shrubs and trees planted, structural additions made; new lighting equipment installed.”
In 1936, Work: A Journal of Progress declared: “Through PWA, this sumptuous Italian Garden, with its high terrace, great water cascade and heroic statues of President Buchanan, Joan of Arc and Dante, was completed in early October.”
It is very likely that the labor was provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was involved a massive program of parks improvements across the district in 1935-36.
The statues were installed in the park before the New Deal. According to a panel (below), there were government-sponsored concerts in the park during the 1930s and those were almost certainly under the WPA’s Federal Music Project.
Today, Meridian Hill Park is unofficially known as Malcolm X Park and is known for its gatherings of drummers.
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"Million Allotted For Park Work," Evening Star, May 26, 1935, p. A-3.
“New Deal Projects Aid Many Park Developments in Capital,” Washington Daily News, July 23, 1936
District of Columbia Works Progress Administration, “National Capital Parks,” Work: A Journal of Progress, Vol. 1, No. 3, Nov. 1936, p. 22
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - wpatoday.org on June 5, 2013.
Additional contributions by Anika Rice, Richard Walker.
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