Welcome to Hidden Memorials: a series that gives a brief introduction to the city's lesser known monuments, memorials and statues. For a map of all the obscure statues we've covered thus far, head here. Today, let's look at the Zero Milestone.
Washington, D.C. may be the country's center of power, but it's certainly not the center of the country's system of roads. Still, that's not for lack of trying. When city planner extraordinaire Pierre Charles L'Enfant was designing the Federal City in the 1790s, he wanted to place a column to mark the center of all roadways. He actually wanted to place it one mile east of the Capitol in what is currently Lincoln Park, but somehow a stone placed on the center of the White House grounds became the Washington Meridian. That was in 1804. The Zero Milestone on the Ellipse was not dedicated until 1923. It's a cool monument; a four foot high granite tower with a bronze 16-point compass on the top meant to hearken back to Ancient Rome's Golden Milestone. Still, it's really more symbolic than anything else. Even within the District, the center point which divides the city's four quadrants is the Capitol Building.
· Zero Milestone [Wikipedia]
· All Hidden Memorials [CDC]