A park wasn't the first idea that came to mind for Meridian Hill. Mary Foote Henderson, the wife of former Senator John Brooks Henderson, originally wanted the hill to house a presidential mansion that would replace the White House. When that plan was turned down, she proposed for the Lincoln Memorial to be built there, which was again passed over. Finally, Henderson decided that a park would be the best choice for the area.
With the Senate Park Commission's approval, the park was designed and constructed between 1912 and 1940.
In the early 19th century, the 12 acres of land that is currently Meridian Hill Park (otherwise known as Malcolm X Park) were used as a geographic marker. President Thomas Jefferson placed the marker on the hill to establish a longitudinal meridian for the city.
The area didn't gain its name, "Meridian Hill," until an officer of the U.S. Navy named David Porter purchased the property in 1816. When the Civil War began, the area was used as an army encampment.
Take a closer look at what this National Historic Landmark once looked like with the below photo gallery.
• Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park [Adams Morgan Heritage Trail Pamphlet]
• Why Is It Named Meridian Hill? [Ghosts of DC]