Meridian Hill is a 12-acre public park located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC, about a mile and a half directly north of the White House. It is a quiet, formal garden that offers respite and green space in the middle of the densely populated city.
Designed in Italian Renaissance style, this oblong park drops 75 feet in elevation from its northern end to its southern end, which is fully accentuated by its dramatic landscape architecture plan. The park is divided into an upper terrace and lower terrace, connected by a magnificent, 13-basin cascading waterfall. The upper terrace features a tree-lined mall area with benches and footpaths on either side, and a wide open grassy space convenient for social gatherings.
A Great Terrace at the southern end of the mall breaks the green space with pavers leading up to the top of the waterfall. Two large circular fountains flank a bronze equestrian statue of French military heroine Joan of Arc, which faces down the center of the waterfall.
On the lower terrace is the shallow basin into which the waterfall drains, with another enclosed reflecting pool divided by a walkway. Under the shaded trees of the eastern end of the park is a memorial to President James Buchanan, bequeathed by his niece and First Lady Harriet Lane. Two additional sculptures of famous Italian poet Dante, and a marble, allegorical sculpture of Serenity, are tucked into niches along the footpaths.
The tan-colored hardscape elements throughout the park were created using exposed concrete aggregate, a rather innovative material at the time, using gravel dredged from the Potomac River.
The park is an ideal for reading a book, playing an instrument or taking a romantic stroll. Drum circles are a regular community event during the summer.
Park construction began in 1914 and since 1933 has been under the National Park Service. The park is open during daylight hours with free admission.