Points of Interest - North to South
Entry to Meridian Hill Park can be gained at points off 16th and 15th Streets.
As one proceeds down the walkway, to the left can be found the 82 foot long memorial to James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States. This imposing monument's focal point is the nine foot seated figure of Buchanan, flanked by two statues representing Law and Diplomacy. Buchanan, a native Pennsylvanian, was a statesman as well as United States Minister of Russia and Great Britain. He is most remembered for being the only bachelor president. The statue, sculptured by Hans Schuler, was a gift from Buchanan's neice, Mrs. Harriet Lane Johnston, dedicated on June 26, 1930 in his memory.
Turning toward the reflecting pool one can view a concrete aggregate chess board. One of the leisure activities of the Europeans was to hold human chess pageants.
Perhaps the single most intriguing feature of the park is the cascading thirteen basin fountains that form the center of the lower level formal garden. The fountains are designed with a recirculating water system which, through an elaborate series of pumps, supplies water to two large circular fountains on the upper level, and the cascade found on the lower. Each cascade bowl flows to a larger bowl as they descend to the bottom. Water fills one bowl, overflowing into the next, until it reaches the large reflecting pool in the plaza.
In the vicinity of Belmont Road, just west of 16th Street, was once the site of a small log cabin owned by Joaquin Miller. Called the "Poet of the Sierras," Joaquin Miller was best known for his poem "Columbus." He built and occupied the log cabin during his residence in Washington from early 1883 to late 1885. Miller came to seek political office, but was disappointed in his quest. However, he remained in Washington for some years to carry on his literary work. The cabin remained within the Meridian Hill region for 30 years when, in 1912, it was threatened with destruction and then moved to Rock Creek Park by the California State Association. The cabin is now located on Beach Drive near Picnic Area 6 in Rock Creek Park.
Did You Know?
Meridian Hill Park was home to an early African American Seminary and a college that was to become George Washington University.