Explore beyond the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other famous landmarks when you visit Washington, DC. The city has a lot of well-known sites but there are even more lesser-known monuments and memorials. These are five weird monuments in DC to check out on your trip.
1. Temperance Fountain
One of our favorite weird monuments in DC was designed to encourage people to drink water instead of alcohol. In 1882 by Henry Cogswell built Temperance Fountain. He considered it his life mission to hydrate the masses by building water fountains across the United States.
Cogswell funded over 20 different fountains. He built one in Washington DC on Pennsylvania Avenue. Cogswell designed the fountain for placement right in the middle of the city. He envisioned fresh water flowing from the mouths of two sculpted fish. Cogswell installed a “common cup” under the fish. The cup hung from a chain and that’s how you drank your water. Over the years, cities removed these fountains as they were unhygienic and unneeded. This is one of the only fountains left in the entire country!
2. Titanic Memorial.
The Titanic Memorial is located near the newly developed Wharf. However, it was not always located there. The statue was commissioned in 1930. It was placed on the Potomac River near where the Kennedy Center stands today. They held a design contest for the Titanic Memorial. Gertrude Vanderbilt won the competition. Henry Bacon designed the base of the memorial. He also designed the Lincoln Memorial. Vanderbilt’s statue depicts a 13-foot man with his arms outstretched gazing out to the water like a ship’s mast.
3. Freedom Bell
The Freedom Bell is a replica of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. It is located north of the Capitol near Union Station. The American Legion commissioned the Freedom Bell in 1975. After America’s bicentennial celebration, the Freedom Bell was put into storage and it wasn’t brought out until recently. Over the years, a lot of people have walked right past the Freedom Bell without a clue that it exists. So if you are arriving by train, car or bus at Union Station, make sure you stop and check this out.
4. Jefferson Pier
Jefferson Pier is a very small memorial literally overshadowed by the Washington Monument. When Thomas Jefferson was overseeing some of the development of Washington, DC he wanted to realign the prime meridian of the entire world to go right through Washington.
The Jefferson Meridian was laid out at the intersection of a right triangle. The White House, the Capitol building and Pennsylvania Avenue formed the points on the triangle. The Washington Monument was actually supposed to get built at the spot where the points converged. However, when they started construction the builders got nervous about the soil conditions. So, the plan shifted the Washington Monument to the east. That’s actually why the Washington Monument is out of line between the White House, Capitol and Jefferson Memorial.
5. Joan of Arc Statue
The Joan of Arc Statue earned the distinction of being the only female equestrian statue in the city. Joan of Arc was a peasant girl from eastern France. She claimed divine inspiration in the fight against the British in the Hundred Years War. She was 19 years old when she was captured and burned at the stake. In 1920, the Society of French women of New York donated this statue to Meridian Hill Park.
This statue is meant to show friendship between the women of France and the United States. An interesting fact about the statue is that Joan of Arc’s sword has been stolen multiple times. The original sword was stolen in 1978 and was only replaced in 2011.
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