Benjamin Banneker Park

Benjamin Banneker Park is located at the southern end of L’Enfant Boulevard and is named for Banneker who was an African-American scientist and surveyor who helped to map out the city of Washington.

Entrance to Benjamin Banneker Park on 10th Street, SW, Washington, DC with fountain
Entrance to Benjamin Banneker Park on 10th Street, SW, looking south toward the Wharf
Photo by Fiona Clem ©2019

At the end of L’Enfant Boulevard (10th Street, SW) in Southwest DC there is a park dedicated to Benjamin Banneker.

Benjamin Banneker was an African-American scientist who worked with L’Enfant and Andrew Ellicott to map out the city of Washington. Banneker became a mathematician, astronomer, inventor, and writer. Benjamin Banneker was born in 1731 and died in Baltimore in 1806.

Benjamin Banneker Park on 10th Street, SW, looking north toward L'Enfant Plaza and the Forrestal Building
Benjamin Banneker Park on 10th Street, SW, looking north toward L’Enfant Plaza and the Forrestal Building.
Photo by Fiona Clem ©2019

The park was designed by Dan Kiley and opened in November 1971. In 1998, Congress passed legislation that authorized a Banneker memorial in D.C.  This park site was chosen for that memorial, and it is managed by the National Park Service.

Pedestrian walkway on L’Enfant Boulevard (10th St, SW) looking toward Banneker Park and the Wharf
Photo by Fiona Clem ©2019

From Banneker Park there are views to the south that look over Maine Avenue, SW, and onto the Wharf development that was completed in September 2017.

Bartholdi Fountain

Bartholdi‘s Renaissance-style fountain of cast iron was first exhibited at the International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Congress bought it a year later for $6,000.

Its first location was at the base of Capitol Hill to the south of where the Grant Memorial is located. Later it was removed and stored. And in 1932 the 30-foot-tall sculpture was moved to its current location near the U.S. Botanic Garden, which operates Bartholdi Park.

The sculptor, Frederick Auguste Bartholdi, also created the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

The fountain was made for the centennial exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. After the close of the exposition it was brought to this city and erected in its present site in the Botanic Garden, just north of the conservatory.

Reference:

Evening star. (Washington, D.C.), 17 April 1914. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1914-04-17/ed-1/seq-10/>

Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran, Poet (January 6, 1883- April 10, 1931) Born: Lebanon, Died: New York
Location: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Sculptor: Gordon Kray, Washington, D.C.
Design: Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)
Dedicated: May 24, 1991
Cost: $1Million (private funds)

The Memorial to the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran is a peaceful, recessed 2-acres on Massachusetts Avenue across from the British Embassy.

To get there one has to cross a foot-bridge that leads to the memorial entrance – a bust of the poet, a water feature and a dove.

Invalid Displayed Gallery

The dedication, led by President George H.W. Bush, and included the Marine Corps marching band.

The memorial to the poet who wrote “The Prophet” in 1923 was conceived of by Sheryl Dekour Ameen and is the first monument to an Arab-American on federal land in Washington. Congress approved of the memorial in 1984, and the National Park Service gave a vacant parcel of land on Massachusetts Avenue. Lebanese American conservative William J. Barrody, Jr. led the fundraising for the $1 million to build the park.

References:

Kahlil Gibran’s Garden of Verses: President Bush and the People’s Kinder, Gentler Poet Henry Allen. The Washington Post. 25 May 1991: D1.

Gibran’s Garden: Ross, Nancy. The Washington Post. 23 May 1991: T05.

D.C. Garden Marks Words Of Peace Lebanese Americans To Memorialize Writer, Barbour, John. The Washington Post; Aug 12, 1989; B6.

The Eternal Kahlil Gibran: Never Has One Prophet Done So Little to Deserve So Much. By Jonathan Yardley. The Washington Post; 08 Oct 1984: D1.

Simon Bolivar

Statue: Simon Bolivar, South American Liberator, July 24, 1783 – December 17, 1830
Location: 18th and C Street and Virginia Avenue, NW (Bolivar Park)
Sculptor: Felix W. de Weldon, Washington, D.C.
Dedication: February 28, 1959
Cost to taxpayers: $0

In 1955 a resolution was passed in the Senate authorizing acceptance of a statue to Simon Bolivar, South American liberator, in Washington, D.C., to be presented to the United States by Venezuela as a gesture of friendship. In 1957 the Fine Arts Commission reserved the triangle part at 18th and Virginia Avenue, NW for the statue and a park.

The 8-ton statue was designed by Felix W. de Weldon, a member of the Fine Arts Commission and also the sculptor of the Iwo Jima statue. The model was sent to Brooklyn, NY, for casting, which took 10-weeks, because there are no foundries left in Washington, D.C. The statue measures 24 feet from the base of the tip of the sword and 24 feet from the horse’s nose to the tip of the tail. It stands on a Swedish granite pedestal 12 feet high.

The statue was placed on it’s pedestal in December 1957, and the original dedication ceremony was scheduled for May 22, 1958, with Vice President Nixon scheduled to preside. However, due to a coup d’etat in Venezuela in January 1958, the ceremony was postponed.

Finally on February 27, 1959, President Eisenhower accepted a 36-foot bronze statue of Simon Bolivar as a symbol of the will of the United States and Venezuela “to live and work together.” The dedication came with two weeks after Romulo Betancourt was elected President on February 13, 1959, ending a decade of dictatorship in Venezuela.

The gift from the Venezuelan Government also includes the creation of the newly designated Simon Bolivar Plaza, with landscaping, a marble plaza, pool and six jets of water will shoot 23 feet into the air to represent the six countries liberated by Bolivar.

Other American cities — New York City (Central Park), Bolivar, W. Va., and Bolivar, Mo., and New Orleans — have monuments to the ‘Great Liberator’. But the one located in Washington, D.C. is the largest of all equestrian statues in the Western Hemisphere.

References:

Bolivar Statue Voted, The Washington Post and Times Herald, Jun 22, 1955, pg. 18

D.C. Statue to Honor Bolivar, The Washington Post and Times Herald, Nov. 20, 1956, A6

Envoy Presents Bolivar Statue to New Orleans, The Washington Post and Times Herald, Nov. 26, 1957, A2

Statue of Latin Hero to be Unveiled Here, The Washington Post and Times Herald, May 11, 1958, F13

Bolivar Ceremony Here is Put Off, The Washington Post and Times Herald, May 20, 1958, A6

U.S. to Accept Bolivar Statue, The Washington Post and Times Herald, Feb. 20, 1959, pg. B1

Venezuela’s Bolivar Statue is Accepted by President, The Washington Post and Times Herald, Feb. 28, 1959, B1