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Jefferson Pier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

West side of Jefferson Pier with Washington Monument in background
West side of Jefferson Pier with Washington Monument in background

Jefferson Pier, Jefferson Stone, or the Jefferson Pier Stone, in Washington, D.C., marks the second prime meridian of the United States[1] even though it was never officially recognized, either by presidential proclamation or by a resolution or act of Congress.

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  • 5 WEIRD Monuments in Washington DC
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Transcription

We are going to tell you about five weird memorials you can see in Washington DC. Hello! Welcome to Trip Hacks DC, my name is Rob. I'm a tour guide here in the nation's capital. if you're coming to Washington DC and you're looking for the best tips, tricks, and hacks for exploring the city make sure to subscribe to this channel ant at the bell notification icon so that you don't miss any new videos. Hi. My name is Carolyn. I'm with DC Design Tours. DC Design Tours offers walking tours of Washington DC with a focus on architecture and design. If you want to learn more about DC design tours feel free to visit our website at www.dcdesigntours.com And we are going to tell you about five weird memorials that you can see when you visit including a few that you can see on your tours. If you live in or been to DC before and seen any of these weird memorials, leave a comment on this video and let us know what you thought about them. Otherwise, let's get started... 1. the temperance fountain. It was designed to encourage people to drink water instead of alcohol. So the temperance fountain was built in 1882 by a very strange character, a guy named Henry Cogswell who was very much anti alcohol. He considered it his mission to hydrate the masses by building water fountains in seedy neighborhoods across the United States. Henry Cogswell had made his money as a dentist working out in California during the gold rush. Cogswell funded over 20 different fountains all across the country and one of them he built right here in Washington DC, in a neighborhood that was then called Murder Bay. Today we know Pennsylvania Avenue, the street that inaugurations, protests, and all kinds of other important events happen but at that time it was really slummy. Henry Cogswell designed the fountain to be placed right in the middle of the worst possible neighborhood of the city and he had fresh water flowing from the mouths of two sculpted fish. Beneath the fish was what they called a common cup, not a sense of Hygiene in those days. The common cup was used by everyone. It hung from a chain and that's how you drank your water. The vast majority of these temperance fountains have been removed. The communities generally hated them both for their philosophy and also for their design. There's only a few left and one of them thankfully is in Washington DC right across the street from the National Archives. So when you're going to the Capitol to do your Capitol tour or your exploring the museums on the National Mall, you can stop by the temperance fountain and check out this weird one. The next weird one is the Titanic Memorial. Anyone who is a big fan of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie will definitely want to come and check this one out. The Titanic Memorial is located now down by the newly developed Wharf but it wasn't actually always there. Originally when the statue was commissioned in 1930 it was placed on the river right near where the Kennedy Center is today. To design the memorial, just like a lot of the other monuments and memorials in Washington DC they held a design contest and the designer who won was named Gertrude Vanderbilt. If you recognize that last name, Vanderbilt it's because the Vanderbilts are one of the most famous and wealthy families in the United States. The base of the memorial is designed by Henry Bacon who we know best for being the designer of the Lincoln Memorial. The sculpture depicts a 13-foot man with his arms outstretched gazing out to the water almost like a ship's mast. And while I don't think it's necessarily worth going out of your way to see this one, it's definitely worth checking out the Wharf which is a really cool newly developed area of the city and while you're over there come see the Titanic memorial. Number three is a monument that is a replica of one that you probably have seen if you visited Philadelphia. The Freedom Bell is actually a replica of the Liberty Bell and it's located just to the north of the Capitol near Union Station. The Freedom Bell was commissioned by the American Legion in 1975 to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States. The Bell is a copy of the Liberty Bell, which hangs in Philadelphia, which is famous for having its big crack and being rung at one of the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence in 1775. After the bicentennial celebration the Freedom Bell was actually put into storage and it wasn't brought out until more recently. So even though millions of people have traveled through Union Station over the years a lot of them have actually walked right past the Freedom Bell. So if you're arriving by train, car or bus make sure you stop and check this out on your way in. 4. the Jefferson pier. This is a very very small memorial that is literally overshadowed by a much larger memorial, the Washington Monument. So when Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States and overseeing some of the layout of Washington, DC he actually wanted to realign the prime meridian of the entire world to go right through Washington. The Jefferson Meridian was laid out at the intersection of a right triangle formed by the White House the Capitol building and Pennsylvania Avenue. The Washington Monument was actually supposed to be built in that spot, but when they started construction they were nervous about the soil conditions, so they shifted the Washington Monument over to the east and hope nobody would notice. That's actually why the monument is a little bit out of line between the White House the Capitol and the Jefferson Memorial. The pier actually disappeared for a time, eventually was re-erected and today's stands as a tiny little monument more to the ego of Thomas Jefferson than anything else. So even though it's not one that I will typically point out on my tours it is one that I will show you if you complain about the fact that the Washington Monument, Capitol, White House, and Lincoln Memorial are not in a perfect line. 5. the Joan of Arc statue. This one has the unique distinction of being the only female equestrian statue in the entire city. Joan of Arc was actually a peasant girl from eastern France who claimed divine inspiration in fighting against the British in the Hundred Years War. She was only 19 years old and she was finally captured and burned at the stake. In 1920 the Society of French women of New York donated the statue to be displayed in Meridian Hill Park which is where it is today. It's meant to be a symbol of friendship between the women of France and the women of the United States. One other bizarre fact about the statue is that Joan of Arc's sword has unfortunately been stolen multiple times. The original sword was stolen in 1978 and was only replaced in 2011. Unfortunately on our last Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan walking tour, it turns out that she is once again missing her sword, so who knows when it will come back. And this one compared to some of the others is a little bit off the beaten path. So make sure you check out where it is on Google Maps or sign up for Carolyn's walking tour of that area to make sure you see it. And that's it! Thank you for watching this video and thank you Carolyn for coming on to share some of your knowledge of these weird memorials. Thank you. And if you want to join us for one of our walking tours, feel free to visit www.dcdesigntours.com to check out our tours and sign up. And if you want to sign up for a Trip Hacks DC tour you can head on over to www.triphacksdc.com. Enjoy your trip!

Contents

Location and inscription

Location of Jefferson Pier on 1800 map (top) and modern satellite image (bottom).
Location of Jefferson Pier on 1800 map (top) and modern satellite image (bottom).

The stone is on the National Mall almost due south of the center of the White House and the midline of 16th Street, NW, about due west of the center of the United States Capitol building, almost due north of the center of the Jefferson Memorial and 391 ft (119 m) WNW of the center of the Washington Monument.[2][3][note 1]

The monument is a 2.25-by-2.25-foot (0.7 m × 0.7 m), 3-foot (0.9 m) tall granitic monolith with crossing longitudinal and latitudinal lines engraved on its upper surface and with a defaced inscription engraved on its west face that states:

POSITION OF JEFFERSON
PIER ERECTED DEC 18, 1804.
RECOVERED AND RE-ERECTED
DEC 2, 1889.
[fifth line chiseled out]
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA[3][4]

The chiseled-out fifth line reportedly once incorrectly stated: "BEING THE CENTRE POINT OF THE".[5][6]

Plan of Washington, D.C.

According to a notation on Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant's 1791 "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of the United States ... " (see L'Enfant Plan), Andrew Ellicott measured a prime meridian (longitude 0°0') through the future site of the U.S. Capitol.[7][8] (Shortly after L'Enfant prepared this plan, its subject received the name "City of Washington".) Thomas Jefferson, who at the time was serving as the United States Secretary of State, supervised Ellicott's and L'Enfant's activities during the initial planning of the nation's capital city. Jefferson hoped that the United States would become scientifically as well as politically independent from Europe. He therefore desired that the new nation's capital city should contain a new "first meridian".

A prominent geometric feature of L'Enfant's plan was a large right triangle whose hypotenuse was a wide avenue (now part of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW) connecting the "President's house" (now the White House) and the "Congress house" (now the U.S. Capitol building).[9] To complete the triangle, a line projecting due south from the center of the President's house intersected at a right angle a line projecting due west from the center of the Congress house.[9] A 400 feet (122 m)-wide garden-lined "grand avenue" would travel for about 1 mile (1.6 km) along the east-west line.[9] L'Enfant chose the west end of the "grand avenue" (at the triangle's southwest corner) to be the location of a future equestrian statue of George Washington for which the Continental Congress had voted in 1783.[9] (Although the planned "grand avenue" became the portion of the National Mall that is now between the Capitol's grounds and the Washington Monument, neither the avenue nor Washington's equestrian statue were ever constructed (see: National Mall)).

Planning for Washington Monument

In 1804, Jefferson requested a survey of a meridian through the President's house while living in the house when serving as the President of the United States. It is not known why Jefferson requested a survey of a new meridian after he had previously directed a survey of a different one while serving as Secretary of State eleven years earlier.

In accordance with Jefferson's request, Isaac Briggs used a transit and equal altitude instrument (see Theodolite)[10] to survey a new meridian line extending south from the center of the President's House that intersected a line extending due west from the planned center of the Capitol building.[11][12] On October 15, 1804, Nicholas King, Surveyor of the City of Washington, erected at the intersection "a small pier, covered by a flat free stone, on which the lines are drawn." [12] This established the Washington Meridian (sometimes termed the "16th Street Meridian"), now at a longitude 77°2'11.56" (NAD 83) west of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.[2] The pier and stone were located at the point that L'Enfant's plan had identified as being the future site of George Washington's equestrian statue. A pier is a massive pillar capable of supporting a great weight.[13] Most of the length of a surveying pier is buried vertically in the ground for stability. Free stone is fine grained stone soft enough to carve with a chisel, yet has no tendency to split in any preferential direction.

Another stone, the Capitol Stone, was erected where the north-south line from the President's house intersected a line extending west from the south end of the Capitol, and a third stone, the Meridian Stone, was erected on the north-south meridian two miles north on Peters Hill, now Meridian Hill. Neither of the two latter stones survives. Due to errors either when the Jefferson Pier was initially surveyed or when it was replaced, its center is now 2.23 ft (0.680 m) south of the Capitol's centerline.[14]

The 1804 stone marker replaced one of two wooden posts driven into the ground in 1793 at its site.[15] The marker was originally located on the south bank of Tiber Creek,[12] near the creek's confluence with the Potomac River. The area of the present National Mall west of the marker was under water until an engineering project that Peter Conover Hains directed from 1882 to 1891 created West Potomac Park.[16] East of the marker, Tiber Creek was transformed into the Washington City Canal.

During Washington Monument's construction

Barges used the marker as a mooring post during and after the first phase of Washington Monument's construction, which began in 1848.[15] However, that usage was not the reason that the stone was named a "pier", because the surveyor who erected it had already used that term himself. The developers of the Washington Monument originally wanted the memorial to be located at the site of the Jefferson Pier. However, concerns about the bearing capacity of the soil prevented that from occurring. The marker served as benchmark when the Monument's construction began, but later disappeared from view.[15]

Without recognizing the significance of the stone, the United States Army Corps of Engineers removed the original marker during 1872–1874 as part of a cleanup and grading of the grounds around the stump of the Washington Monument, which had not yet been finished. As part of this project, the Corps of Engineers filled in gullies, planted trees and constructed ornamental ponds and a broad carriage road around the stump.[15][17] The project left in place about 20 inches of the stone's foundation.

After Washington Memorial's completion

Inscription on west side of Jefferson Pier
Inscription on west side of Jefferson Pier

On December 2, 1889, John Stewart, a draftsman acting on the instructions of Colonel O. H. Ernst, Officer in Charge of Public Buildings and Grounds, erected a replacement marker above the recovered foundation of the original marker. According to 1898 and 1899 reports, an inscription on the west side of the replacement marker stated: "Position of the meridian post, erected September 20, 1793, and position of the Jefferson stone pier, erected December 18, 1804, and recovered and reerected, December 1, 1889."[15][18] (Silvio Bedini has written that these reports did not accurately describe the inscription.[19]) The marker was lowered to within 8 inches of its top, so that the inscription was not visible above ground.[15] In 1899, the ground on the west side of the pier was sloped so as to show the inscription on the Pier.[20]

The meridian of the United States was changed to the center of the small dome of the Old Naval Observatory in 1850 (see Old Naval Observatory meridian) and finally replaced by the Greenwich Meridian as the legal prime meridian for both boundaries and navigation in 1912.

In 1920, Congress approved the placement of a new delineation stone on the Ellipse, the Zero Milestone, which is an itinerary marker from which official mileages from Washington would be determined.[note 2] The new marker, a gift of the Lee Highway Association, was for some reason placed one foot west of the original meridian line extending north-south from the center of the White House.

In 1943, the Jefferson Memorial was completed due south of the White House on the Washington Meridian.[note 1][21] As a result, the Jefferson Pier now stands on a north-south line that passes near the centers of the "President's house" and the memorial dedicated to the president for whom the Pier is named.

Maintenance

An artifact sometimes confusing to and often overlooked by tourists, Jefferson Pier is maintained today by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks administrative unit. In 1890 a new monument, the Ellipse Meridian Stone, was placed by the Coast and Geodetic Survey in the center of the Ellipse in President's Park about 1,506 feet (459 m) north of the Jefferson Pier in a more protected area.[note 3] Theodolite measurements showed the new Ellipse Meridian Stone stood 26 inches (0.66 m) from the longtitudinal line of the replacement Jefferson Stone, indicating one of the two markers was improperly located.

Coordinates

Map this section's coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

Notes

  1. ^ David R. Doyle, National Geodetic Survey. "Where Freedom Stands". Retrieved April 20, 2006.
  2. ^ a b Jefferson Pier, NGS Data Sheet
  3. ^ a b Pfanz, Donald C., National Park Service, National Capital Region (December 2, 1980). "Jefferson Pier Marker". National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form: Washington Monument. United States Department of the Interior: National Park Service. p. Continuation Sheet, Item No. 7, p. 4.
  4. ^ Photographs of Jefferson Pier and nearby landmarks:
    ° Browne, Allen (March 26, 2011). "Landmarks: The Jefferson Pier". Retrieved March 1, 2012.
    ° Miller, Richard E. (December 4, 2010). "Jefferson Pier — [Washington Monument] —". HMdb.org: The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved March 1, 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)
  5. ^ Geyer, p. 84.
  6. ^ Browne, Allen (March 26, 2011). "Landmarks: The Jefferson Pier". Archived from the original on April 30, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2016.
  7. ^ Pierre Charles L'Enfant's 1791 "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government ...." in official website of the U.S. Library of Congress, retrieved August 13, 2008. Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington, D.C., contains an inlay of the central portion of L'Enfant's plan. A legend in the inlay states that Andrew Ellicott measured a meridian with a longitude of 0°0' through the future site of the "Congress house".
  8. ^ L'Enfant identified himself as "Peter Charles L'Enfant" during most of his life, while residing in the United States. He wrote this name on his "Plan of the city intended for the permanent seat of the government of t(he) United States ...." (Washington, D.C.) and on other legal documents. However, during the early 1900s, a French ambassador to the U.S., Jean Jules Jusserand, popularized the use of L'Enfant's birth name, "Pierre Charles L'Enfant". (See: Bowling, Kenneth R (2002). Peter Charles L'Enfant: vision, honor, and male friendship in the early American Republic. George Washington University, Washington, D.C.) The National Park Service identifies L'Enfant as Major Peter Charles L'Enfant and as Major Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant on its website. The United States Code states in 40 U.S.C. § 3309: "(a) In General.—The purposes of this chapter shall be carried out in the District of Columbia as nearly as may be practicable in harmony with the plan of Peter Charles L'Enfant."
  9. ^ a b c d High resolution image of central portion of "The L'Enfant Plan for Washington" in Library of Congress, with transcribed excerpts of key to map and enlarged image in official website of the U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  10. ^ "Transit and Equal Altitude Instrument". Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  11. ^ A Brief Construction History of the Capitol In 1804, the original north (Senate) wing of the Capitol was complete, construction of the original south (House) wing had just begun, and a gap existed between the two wings where the dome would later be built. The east-west line passed through the center of this gap.
  12. ^ a b c Letter of "Nicholas King, Surveyor of the City to Thomas Jefferson, October 15, 1804": its first page has the date and its purpose, its last page mentions "pier", and its back has two annotations by later archivists, one of whom calls it "a record of the demarcation of the 1st Meridian of the US". URLs accessed on April 28, 2006.
  13. ^ Glossary of Medieval Art and Architecture: Pier
  14. ^ Washington Monument GPS project (PDF, 1.29MB)
  15. ^ a b c d e f Bingham, Theo. A (1898). "Appendix CCC: Improvement and Care of Public Buildings and Grounds in the District of Columbia — Washington Monument". Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1898. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. II (Part 6): 3670–3671. Retrieved February 29, 2012 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Arlington National Cemetery. "Peter Conover Hains". Retrieved April 20, 2006.
  17. ^ Albert E. Crowley, A City for the Nation: The Army Engineers and the Building of Washington, D.C., 1790–1967 ([1979?]), SuDoc D103.43:870-1-3, p.26.
  18. ^ Stewart, John (1899). "Early Maps and Surveyors of the City of Washington, D.C." Records of the Columbia Historical Society. Washington, D.C.: Columbia Historical Society. 2: 70. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  19. ^ Bedini 1999, p. 111
  20. ^ Bingham, Theo. A (1899). "Appendix CCC: Improvement and Care of Public Buildings and Grounds in the District of Columbia — Washington Monument". Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1899. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. II (Part 6): 3833. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  21. ^ "Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C." National Park Service. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2009.

References

External links

This page was last edited on 11 November 2018, at 21:09
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