clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

An Updated Guide to the Secret Memorials of Washington D.C.

View as Map

Many of the people that come to Washington D.C. know to visit the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. But do the hordes of tourists (and for that matter, locals) know that there's a park dedicated to Sonny Bono south of Dupont Circle or a statue of Albert Einstein in Foggy Bottom? Not necessarily. As such, we've put together this mapped guide to D.C.'s obscure memorials. The current update includes a flaming sword north of the National Mall, an homage to a labor movement hero and an enormous replica of the Liberty Bell. Have a look.


· All Hidden Memorials Posts [CDC]

Read More

Albert Einstein Memorial

Copy Link

This bronze statue of the famous scientist sits on the campus of the National Academy of Sciences. It was dedicated in 1979, 100 years after Einstein's birth. Photo by Adam Fagen.

USS Maine Memorial - Cuban American Friendship Urn / Monumento A Las Victims Del "Maine"

Copy Link

This memorial has a very strange history. The monument to fallen American sailors off the coast of Cuba was gifted to President Coolidge in 1928 but mysteriously disappeared for several decades during the height of U.S./Cuba tensions. Photo by Flickr user cliff1066™.

Titanic Memorial

Copy Link

The outstretched arms may recall a famous scene from the 1997 film, but this 1931 monument looking over the water memorializes the male passengers of the ship who gave up their lives so that the women and children could use the lifeboats. Photo by Tim Evanson

Samuel Hahnemann Memorial

Copy Link

This massive memorial in the center of Scott Circle is a dedication to the father of homeopathic medicine. Photo by Adam Fagen.

Van Ness Mausoleum at Oak Hill Cemetery

Copy Link

This large Greek Revival structure holds the former mayor of D.C. and his wife. Before its move to Oak Hill Cemetery, it stood in front of an orphanage in Penn Quarter. Photo by NCinDC.

Sonny Bono Memorial Park

Copy Link

The deceased singer/politician had a good friend in developer Geary Simon. This little 800 square foot triangle south of Dupont Circle has a chest carrying some of Bono's treasured artifacts buried underneath. Photo by Andy Buschap

Temperance Fountain

Copy Link

This statue near the National Mall was meant to be an inspiration to drink water instead of liquor, but the water fountain has long since stopped working. Photo by Flickr user NCinDC.

"Motherland," The Armenian Earthquake Statue

Copy Link

This statue stands on the North Lawn of the American Red Cross Headquarters. It was a gift to the organization after their assistance during a 1988 earthquake in Armenia. Photo by David King.

Bartholdi Fountain

Copy Link

This work of art in the Botanic Garden was named "The Fountain of Light and Water" but it is more commonly called the Bartholdi fountain, after its creator. Fun fact: he also designed the Statue of Liberty! Photo courtesy of the U.S. Capitol.

Boy Scouts of America Memorial

Copy Link

The coolest thing about this statue on the Ellipse is that the Boy Scouts of America paid for the memorial themselves. Photo by Robert Goodwin.

Victims of Communism Memorial

Copy Link

This may surpass the still-unbuilt Eisenhower Memorial the most controversial monument in the city. The Ukrainians even built a Museum of American Imperialism in agitated protest. Photo by Cesar Harada.

Bridge Tender's House

Copy Link

The watchtower on the 14th Street Bridge became a kaleidoscopic work of colorful public art in 2009. Photo by Flickr user art around.

(Here I Stand) In the Spirit of Paul Robeson

Copy Link

This glass and steel statue in Petworth by Allen Uzikee Nelson is in homage to the internationally renowned singer, athlete and activist. Photo by Valerie Paschall.

Zero Milestone

Copy Link

This granite block topped with a compass is the symbolic center of the city's and the country's system of roads. It's also hidden in plain site, right in front of the White House. Photo by Charles Smith.

Nuns of the Battlefield Monument

Copy Link

Just because it's south of Dupont Circle doesn't mean it isn't obscure. This bronze relief is dedicated to the nuns who assisted soldiers during the Civil War. Photo by Ron Cogswell.

African American Civil War Memorial

Copy Link

It's in the title of a Green Line metro station and, in fact, immediately visible upon exiting onto 10th Street. Still, not everyone spends ample time (or any time) looking at this dedication to the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War. Photo courtesy of DC Tourism.

District of Columbia World War I Memorial

Copy Link

Just because it's in West Potomac Park near the Lincoln Memorial, doesn't mean it isn't overlooked. This dome dedicated to D.C. residents who died in World War I. It was also the first War Memorial to go up behind the Washington Monument. Photo by Adam Fagen.

The Extra Mile

Copy Link

This memorial is a series of bronze medallions honoring people that have dedicated their lives to service and the betterment of others. There's actually still room on this relatively new trail for future commemoration. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

The Court of Neptune

Copy Link

Not so much memorial as really interesting public art, this statue showing the mythological God of the Sea sits in front of the Library of Congress. Photo by Flickr user Anne G.

Dante Alighieri Statue - Meridian Hill Park

Copy Link

There are a couple of statues in the beautifully landscaped Meridian Hill Park and this sculpture of the Divine Comedy poet isn't far from that of American President James Buchanan.

Jean Jules Jusserand Memorial

Copy Link

This bench dedicated to French ambassador and Teddy Roosevelt confidant is well-hidden in Rock Creek Park. Photo by Daniel Lobo.

Emancipation Monument

Copy Link

In theory, a monument that pays tribute to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is a great one but the positions of the figures made it a controversial memorial even during its dedication. Photo by Flickr user yeowatzup.

National Capitol Columns

Copy Link

These columns in the middle of the National Arboretum look like a Greek or Roman ruin, but in fact, they used to be a part of the Capitol Building. Photo by Paulo Ordoveza.

Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden

Copy Link

There aren't too many memorials by the Observatory, but there is this trippy one (and the accompanying garden) dedicated to the author of The Prophet. Photo by Flickr user J.

Soldiers Home

Copy Link

This entire home, where President Lincoln spent his summers and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, is more of a museum than a memorial. That said, it's still been deemed a National Monument. Photo by Ron Cogswell.

Guglielmo Marconi Memorial

Copy Link

This gilded statue in front of a Mt Pleasant apartment complex is an homage to a pioneer of radio technology. Photo by Flickr user NCinDC.

Samuel Gompers Memorial Park

Copy Link

This large memorial, rife with symbolism sits in the middle of a small park in Mt. Vernon Square dedicated to this hero of the labor movement. Photo by Adam Gerard.

Vietnam Women's Memorial

Copy Link

Most people know about the black marble walls dedicated to Vietnam veterans, but this accompanying statue by Glenna Goodacre that honors the women who served during the war tends to fall under the radar. Photo by Flickr user pcouture.

Navy - Merchant Marine Memorial

Copy Link

Although this isn't the city's most famous Navy war memorial, this aluminum wave is certainly a memorable structure. It sits in Lady Bird Johnson Park on Columbia Island and specifically commemorates the fallen naval and merchant marine soldiers from World War I. Photo by Flickr user Jack Says Relax.

Freedom Bell

Copy Link

Even though this Liberty Bell replica sits in front of the extraordinarily busy Union Station, folks hustling to their train may miss this one. Photo by Marjorie Morris Lipan.

Francis Asbury Statue

Copy Link

This Mt. Pleasant equestrian statue is dedicated to one of the country's first Methodist bishops, Francis Asbury. Yes this "Prophet of the Long Road" is the namesake of Asbury Park, NJ. Photo by Mike McCaffrey.

Second Division Memorial, Flaming Sword Monument

Copy Link

This flame-engulfed sword is somewhat ostentatious, but it still tends to get overlooked by passers-by. It represents the U.S. Army Second Division's defense of Paris in the first World War, but wings were later added to celebrate their work in World War II and the Korean War. Photo by Flickr user Cliff.

Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historic Park — Georgetown Visitor Center

Copy Link

This obelisk at the corner of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge is actually older than the more famous one sitting in the middle of the National Mall. This one was dedicated in 1850 to celebrate the completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII

Copy Link

Sculptor Nina Akamu's golden cranes were meant to symbolize the patriotism and plight of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. The names of those who died in internment camps surround the statue. Photo by Flickr user Brixton.

Loading comments...

Albert Einstein Memorial

This bronze statue of the famous scientist sits on the campus of the National Academy of Sciences. It was dedicated in 1979, 100 years after Einstein's birth. Photo by Adam Fagen.

USS Maine Memorial - Cuban American Friendship Urn / Monumento A Las Victims Del "Maine"

This memorial has a very strange history. The monument to fallen American sailors off the coast of Cuba was gifted to President Coolidge in 1928 but mysteriously disappeared for several decades during the height of U.S./Cuba tensions. Photo by Flickr user cliff1066™.

Titanic Memorial

The outstretched arms may recall a famous scene from the 1997 film, but this 1931 monument looking over the water memorializes the male passengers of the ship who gave up their lives so that the women and children could use the lifeboats. Photo by Tim Evanson

Samuel Hahnemann Memorial

This massive memorial in the center of Scott Circle is a dedication to the father of homeopathic medicine. Photo by Adam Fagen.

Van Ness Mausoleum at Oak Hill Cemetery

This large Greek Revival structure holds the former mayor of D.C. and his wife. Before its move to Oak Hill Cemetery, it stood in front of an orphanage in Penn Quarter. Photo by NCinDC.

Sonny Bono Memorial Park

The deceased singer/politician had a good friend in developer Geary Simon. This little 800 square foot triangle south of Dupont Circle has a chest carrying some of Bono's treasured artifacts buried underneath. Photo by Andy Buschap

Temperance Fountain

This statue near the National Mall was meant to be an inspiration to drink water instead of liquor, but the water fountain has long since stopped working. Photo by Flickr user NCinDC.

"Motherland," The Armenian Earthquake Statue

This statue stands on the North Lawn of the American Red Cross Headquarters. It was a gift to the organization after their assistance during a 1988 earthquake in Armenia. Photo by David King.

Bartholdi Fountain

This work of art in the Botanic Garden was named "The Fountain of Light and Water" but it is more commonly called the Bartholdi fountain, after its creator. Fun fact: he also designed the Statue of Liberty! Photo courtesy of the U.S. Capitol.

Boy Scouts of America Memorial

The coolest thing about this statue on the Ellipse is that the Boy Scouts of America paid for the memorial themselves. Photo by Robert Goodwin.

Victims of Communism Memorial

This may surpass the still-unbuilt Eisenhower Memorial the most controversial monument in the city. The Ukrainians even built a Museum of American Imperialism in agitated protest. Photo by Cesar Harada.

Bridge Tender's House

The watchtower on the 14th Street Bridge became a kaleidoscopic work of colorful public art in 2009. Photo by Flickr user art around.

(Here I Stand) In the Spirit of Paul Robeson

This glass and steel statue in Petworth by Allen Uzikee Nelson is in homage to the internationally renowned singer, athlete and activist. Photo by Valerie Paschall.

Zero Milestone

This granite block topped with a compass is the symbolic center of the city's and the country's system of roads. It's also hidden in plain site, right in front of the White House. Photo by Charles Smith.

Nuns of the Battlefield Monument

Just because it's south of Dupont Circle doesn't mean it isn't obscure. This bronze relief is dedicated to the nuns who assisted soldiers during the Civil War. Photo by Ron Cogswell.

African American Civil War Memorial

It's in the title of a Green Line metro station and, in fact, immediately visible upon exiting onto 10th Street. Still, not everyone spends ample time (or any time) looking at this dedication to the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War. Photo courtesy of DC Tourism.

District of Columbia World War I Memorial

Just because it's in West Potomac Park near the Lincoln Memorial, doesn't mean it isn't overlooked. This dome dedicated to D.C. residents who died in World War I. It was also the first War Memorial to go up behind the Washington Monument. Photo by Adam Fagen.

The Extra Mile

This memorial is a series of bronze medallions honoring people that have dedicated their lives to service and the betterment of others. There's actually still room on this relatively new trail for future commemoration. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

The Court of Neptune

Not so much memorial as really interesting public art, this statue showing the mythological God of the Sea sits in front of the Library of Congress. Photo by Flickr user Anne G.

Dante Alighieri Statue - Meridian Hill Park

There are a couple of statues in the beautifully landscaped Meridian Hill Park and this sculpture of the Divine Comedy poet isn't far from that of American President James Buchanan.

Jean Jules Jusserand Memorial

This bench dedicated to French ambassador and Teddy Roosevelt confidant is well-hidden in Rock Creek Park. Photo by Daniel Lobo.

Emancipation Monument

In theory, a monument that pays tribute to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is a great one but the positions of the figures made it a controversial memorial even during its dedication. Photo by Flickr user yeowatzup.

National Capitol Columns

These columns in the middle of the National Arboretum look like a Greek or Roman ruin, but in fact, they used to be a part of the Capitol Building. Photo by Paulo Ordoveza.

Kahlil Gibran Memorial Garden

There aren't too many memorials by the Observatory, but there is this trippy one (and the accompanying garden) dedicated to the author of The Prophet. Photo by Flickr user J.

Soldiers Home

This entire home, where President Lincoln spent his summers and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, is more of a museum than a memorial. That said, it's still been deemed a National Monument. Photo by Ron Cogswell.

Guglielmo Marconi Memorial

This gilded statue in front of a Mt Pleasant apartment complex is an homage to a pioneer of radio technology. Photo by Flickr user NCinDC.

Samuel Gompers Memorial Park

This large memorial, rife with symbolism sits in the middle of a small park in Mt. Vernon Square dedicated to this hero of the labor movement. Photo by Adam Gerard.

Vietnam Women's Memorial

Most people know about the black marble walls dedicated to Vietnam veterans, but this accompanying statue by Glenna Goodacre that honors the women who served during the war tends to fall under the radar. Photo by Flickr user pcouture.

Navy - Merchant Marine Memorial

Although this isn't the city's most famous Navy war memorial, this aluminum wave is certainly a memorable structure. It sits in Lady Bird Johnson Park on Columbia Island and specifically commemorates the fallen naval and merchant marine soldiers from World War I. Photo by Flickr user Jack Says Relax.

Freedom Bell

Even though this Liberty Bell replica sits in front of the extraordinarily busy Union Station, folks hustling to their train may miss this one. Photo by Marjorie Morris Lipan.

Francis Asbury Statue

This Mt. Pleasant equestrian statue is dedicated to one of the country's first Methodist bishops, Francis Asbury. Yes this "Prophet of the Long Road" is the namesake of Asbury Park, NJ. Photo by Mike McCaffrey.

Second Division Memorial, Flaming Sword Monument

This flame-engulfed sword is somewhat ostentatious, but it still tends to get overlooked by passers-by. It represents the U.S. Army Second Division's defense of Paris in the first World War, but wings were later added to celebrate their work in World War II and the Korean War. Photo by Flickr user Cliff.

Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historic Park — Georgetown Visitor Center

This obelisk at the corner of the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge is actually older than the more famous one sitting in the middle of the National Mall. This one was dedicated in 1850 to celebrate the completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. Photo by Wally Gobetz.

National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in WWII

Sculptor Nina Akamu's golden cranes were meant to symbolize the patriotism and plight of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. The names of those who died in internment camps surround the statue. Photo by Flickr user Brixton.