Meridian Hill Vs. Malcolm X Park Update


Back in January I asked if folks had a name preference. At the time I voted for Meridian Hill because I had never seen Malcolm X actually written anywhere until I saw this sign. So I’m going to take the biggest cop out ever and from this point forward call it Meridian Hill/Malcolm X park. Weak, but I think it’s the proper solution. Does this sign change anyone’s mind on what is the proper name of the park?

24 Comment

  • I use the names interchangably, so I doubt this will change it.

  • How about “Tivoli South Park”?

  • I also tend to use the names interchangeably and don’t think much of it.

  • Amazingly, the other side of this sign has two errors in it. Instead of “Malcolm X”, it says “Malcom-X”. It’s pretty unbelievable that the sign got printed and hung that way and that no one has changed it. Welcome to DC…

  • I use Malcolm X Park with people in the hood or long-time DCers. With new-to-towners, tourists, and people south of U street or west of CT Avenue, I call it Meridien Hill.

  • saf

    RWC – lots of the signs have errors. Have you ever noticed the signs that tell you how to find the “Pentworth” Metrorail station? Or the ones that send you to the “Old Soliders Home?”

  • saf- Definitely, this isn’t a one-time offense! It’s just disappointing that these wayfinding signs for tourists and others who aren’t too familiar with our city have these ridiculous errors as their introduction. I understand that mistakes happen, but it reeks of ineptitude when no one notices or takes the effort to fix these obvious problems. Sigh.

    As for the debate, I always go with the official name, because at some point the colloquial (uh-oh, possible ironic spelling mistake!) name will eventually drop out of fashion when no one remembers Malcolm X and 1968 anymore. Sure, it’ll be another fifty years, but that name will fade away, for better or worse.

  • James, why would you use Malcolm X with old-time Washingtonians? It was Meridian Hill Park a whole lot longer than Malcolm X… My beef with the newer MX name is that he had nothing to do with this area; he wasn’t from here. Older natives call it Meridian Hill park – it’s like my father who still calls MLK Boulevard by its original name (Nichols Avenue)… of course, he still sometimes refers to Exxon as Esso…
    Meridian Hill is a beautiful name with meaning (google it – it has something to do with it being on the longitude of the original DC milestone).
    Malcolm X is just a meaningless PC moniker.

  • Yeah, the place is unambiguously “Meridian Hill Park.” It’s a registered National Historic Landmark under that name. I think the original DC milestone is at the northern apex of the District border — the park aligns perfectly not just with the White House, but with the Jefferson Memorial, such that the dome of the Jefferson appears to be part of the White House, if you can ever see it past that awful building at the base of the park. My point is that “Meridian Hill” is meaninfully connected to the place in a way that Malcolm X is not. I respect the guy, but this is not his park.

  • Clearly the park itself isn’t connected with Malcolm X, but I nonetheless think the moniker is somewhat appropriate – I don’t know exactly where the riots hit, but I have to imagine it extended close to, or in this same area. Despite gentrification, there is still a significant African American community there. Why not give the park some social significance, at least informally?

  • My understanding was that DC (as in the city government) referred to the park Malcolm X Park, and the National Park Service called it Meridian Hill Park. (I was told this when I first moved to DC many years ago and lived a few blocks from the park). Since it’s national park land, Meridian Hill is the official name, but I tend to use both interchangeably.

  • It has always been Meridian Hill. I think it’s stupid to try to rename things after your pet heros. The best example is NATIONAL Airport. It will always be National Airport to me, not Reagan, and the same goes for MERIDIAN HILL Park.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I used to feel the same way about National airport but then I changed my mind. You see JFK airport in New York used to be called Idlewood. But nobody calls it Idlewood anymore…

  • Lau, the riots of 1968 laid waste the H Street Corridor, the 14th Street Corridor (up through Columbia Heights) and Shaw. Incidentally, these riots occurred in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King. They didn’t have anything to do with the 1965 murder of Malcolm X. Just FYI.

    Also, did you know that the District maintains a “Malcolm X Park” at Congress St & Alabama Ave SE? It’s on the District website. So I wouldn’t really understand them naming something another park that isn’t theirs after somebody when they’ve already got a park of the same name.

  • No one ever called the international airport in Queens “Idlewood.” Its original name was Idlewild. Concur with SG on use of “Meridian Hill Park” and “National Airport.” Not sure what, if anything Malcolm X ever did in or for DC. Besides, there is an avenue in SE named after him already. Perhaps POPTrekker can visit it one day.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    OTBerbur, right Idlewild. Point still remains, nobody calls Idlewild airport anything but JFK or Kennedy today.

  • POP,

    But Congress didn’t tell you that you had to change the name of Idlewild, even though New Yorkers didn’t want to, and if you didn’t then they would withhold all transit funding….

  • Mark – duh on MLK. I’m from Detroit; we’re kind of aware of the riots. The point was that Malcolm X also has significance for African Americans, from the same era, for similar reasons.

    I think it’s nice to have local traditions, and who cares whether a given individual calls the park Meridian or Malcolm X, as long as we all know to which park he or she refers?

  • I’ll keep calling it “Malcolm X Park,” because regardless of its official name, anyone who lived in that neighborhood for the last 30 years knows it as that. No need to change the official designation, unofficial traditions are one of the nice facts of life in our city.

    As for “Tivoli South” — that’s either a joke, or something a real estate agent thought up.

    As for National Airport… I’ll never call it Reagan, because Ronald Reagan was a douche who fired all of the nation’s air traffic controllers as one of his first major acts in office. A real slap in the face to people who work very hard to keep us all safe for Congress to name it that.

  • I’ve taken to calling it Obama National Airport.

  • it was meridian hill park before malcolm x was born. it was named meridian hill “because it was on the exact longitude of the original District of Columbia milestone marker” (wikipedia reference). also, thomas jefferson, “promoted the idea of the Earth’s prime meridian running directly north of the White House, a route that is now essentially 16th Street, thus lending the name to the hill and, later, the park.” (

    i used to live down the street from the park and i used both names interchangably as well…

  • I think most people know it as Meridian Hill Park, as I have referred to it Malcolm X Park to others with a quizzical look in response.

    I don’t think I’d change my mind about how I referred to a place based on a sign considering what I saw today…a sign outside the Judiciary Square metro stop pointing toward the Verizon Center with ‘MCI Center’ written on it. How long ago should that have been changed?

  • JohnnyReb – I guess by old-timers I didn’t mean REALLY old-timers – just those that make the neighborhood their home and not just passing through for a few months. I like calling it Malcolm X with people in the Hood because it’s like a little neighborhood secret. I don’t really want it to become a major tourist destination in the city. I love it because it is not frequented by tourists – but is a real neighborhood park. I don’t really care about the politics of Malcolm X – I just like using an alternative name. It could be anything really. 🙂

  • There is an official MalcolmX Park in Anacostia.
    I use the name “Meridian Hill Park” to reinforce the branding of the neighborhood as “Meridian Hill.” This is kind of a lost neighborhood in between others with stronger identities, best defined by what it is not:
    Not Shaw
    Not Dupont
    Not Petworth
    Not Tivoli
    Not (exactly) Adams Morgan
    Not (quite) U-Street corridor
    . . .and it is only a little sliver of the very SW corner of Columbia Heights.
    So this is an opportunity to have a strong identity for the blocks immediately surrounding Meridian Hill Park–the original and official name of this Historic Landmark.

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