What the Helen of Troy is This? (Reader Request)

“Dear PoP,

In my runs around DC, I see these obelisk at random locations – this one is at 15th and Deanfield NW – and I wonder their history. Was DC first settled by ancient Pharaohs or did Romans colonize it later, dragging obelisk here to show their mastery of a new land? And if one has an obelisk in their yard, does it have or transfer value? Can they be removed? Or do they really demarcate the touch points for the galactic spaceship that installed their larger version in the center of our Mall?


Some folks were disappointed with the previous Helen of Troy post (though I still think it was a fair question), anyway, what do you think this is – marking the property boundary? Anyone else seen these around?

18 Comment

  • Aren’t these the MD/DC markers? I thought I read on one of the blogs about a couple walking the entire perimeter of DC based on these obelisks.

  • did he mean delafield rather than deanfield? where’s deanfield?

  • could it be an old hitching post for horses?

  • I’m going to say it’s marking buried utility lines. eh?

  • The Post Office used to have smaller, letter-size mailboxes in the neighborhoods (before the larger, rounded-top metal boxes became the standard), and they were attached to these posts.

    • ah

      I’d buy this. We have one on our street corner. Definitely not a DC/MD marker. Definitely not a property marker, because it’s not on a property line nor marked as a surveyor point. It’s concrete, which suggests it’s newer than hitching posts (typically stone) and it has no ring on it. Not consistent with callbox style, although I thought it might be that too.

  • it’s the top of an ancient Nacotchtank building.

  • Yes, that’s 15th and Delafield. These markers are mini-Washington Monuments meant to indicate where there’s a clear view of the real Washington Monument. For this one, if you take a few steps out onto 15th and face south, you can see the top of the Washington Monument on the horizon.

    • hahahha. they’re used to be Zilions of them down on the mall.

      driving down 13th used to be like a slalom course.

  • As per spin212, postal boxes used to be mounted on these.

  • how long ago?

  • They’re the speed bumps for joyriding kids who drive on the sidewalk. Or at least that’s what happened to the one near my house!

    I like the postal box theory though. Near my house, our modern blue box was recently removed, and an odd metal-concrete foundation for it remains. In ten years, maybe that’ll be featured on a blog.

  • I used to have one in my yard and was told it was a surveyors mark. Eventually way back in the early 80s the cable comany put a cable box (remember the little green domes) there and took it away.

  • I ran right past that this morning and didn’t even notice.

  • The yard is aroused.

  • As the original question poser, I have another obelisk photo that shows there was some attachment on the side of it:



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