The Boundary Markers of the Original District of Columbia are the 40 milestones that mark the four lines forming the boundaries between the states of Maryland and Virginia and the square of 100 square miles (259 km²) of federal territory that became the District of Columbia in 1801 (see History of Washington, D.C.#Founding ). A survey team led by Major Andrew Ellicott placed these markers in 1791 and 1792; among Ellicott's assistants were his brothers Joseph and Benjamin Ellicott , Isaac Roberdeau, George Fenwick, Isaac Briggs and astronomer Benjamin Banneker . [3] [5] [7] Today, 36 of the original marker stones survive as the oldest federally placed monuments in the United States . Due to the return of the portion of the District south and west of the Potomac River to Virginia in 1846, some of these markers are now within Virginia.

Geography

The District of Columbia was originally specified to be a square 100 square miles (260 km 2 ) in area, with the axes between the corners of the square running north-south and east-west, and having its southern corner at the southern tip of Jones Point in Alexandria , Virginia , at the confluence of the Potomac River and Hunting Creek (later the site of the Jones Point Lighthouse ). [10] The sides of the square are each 10 miles (16 km) long. The specified orientation results in a diamond shape for the District's original boundaries on most maps .

The north-south axis of the District's current boundaries extends between present 17th and 18th Streets, N.W., continuing south across the National Mall to the far shore of the Potomac River ; the east-west axis is between present Constitution Avenue and C Street, N.E. and N.W. Note that these axes are not the lines used to define the four geographical quadrants of the District ( N.E. , N.W. , S.E. , and S.W. ), commonly appended to Washington street addresses, which are delimited generally by North Capitol Street , East Capitol Street , South Capitol Street , and the National Mall. The center of the square is west of the Ellipse and north of the Mall, within the grounds of the headquarters of the Organization of American States . [11]

In 2011, the District of Columbia geographic information system (GIS) program completed a project to map the District’s boundary using Global Positioning System (GPS) and contemporary survey technology at an accuracy of +/- 5 centimetres (1.97 in) horizontally and +/- 9 centimetres (3.54 in) vertically. The GIS program's survey found that (listed in the order in which Andrew Ellicott's team performed the initial boundary survey):

  • Along the northwest boundary, the stones are outside the existing boundary ranging from 4.43 feet (1.35 m) to 9.6 feet (2.93 m)
  • Along the northeast boundary, the stones are inside the existing boundary ranging from 6.6 feet (2.01 m) to 8.4 feet (2.56 m)
  • Along the southeast boundary, the stones are outside the existing boundary ranging from 12.75 feet (3.89 m) to 18.48 feet (5.63 m)

The overall accuracy of the historic survey and the survey using 2011 technology produced remarkably similar results. For example, the distance between Southeast stones numbers 6 and 7 is 5,280.824 feet (1,609.5952 m), almost exactly one mile (5,280 feet (1,609.3440 m)). [13]

Placement of boundary stones

The survey team began at the square's south corner on the shoreline of Jones Point in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1791. [3] [10] [15] The team then cleared a corridor along the boundary route to facilitate surveying , starting at the south corner and continuing clockwise, placing sandstone boundary markers at the four corners and at intervals of approximately one mile. [3] [7] [10] These markers were quarried near Aquia Creek in Virginia. [10] Most weighed about a half-ton at their emplacement; the four cornestones were slightly larger. The Virginia stones were set in 1791, and the Maryland ones in 1792. [10] The location of the four cornerstones and the other markers is identified on the map in "Boundary Stones of the District of Columbia".

The side of a boundary marker that faced the federal territory was inscribed "Jurisdiction of the United States". The opposite side was marked with the name of the border state: Virginia or Maryland . The remaining sides were marked with the year that the team placed the stones and with the variation of the compass needle at that place. [7]

Protection and historical designations

Fencing by the DAR

In 1915, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) placed fences around the markers.

Historical designations

One Virginia boundary marker was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and another in 1980. In 1991 (for Virginia markers) and 1996 (for markers on the D.C./Maryland boundary), most of the markers not previously so designated were entered on this Register as parts of Multiple Property Submissions (or MPS ) for Boundary Markers of the Original District of Columbia [16]

Virginia

Southwest 9. [17] This boundary marker in Virginia was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and further was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark , in 1976 at the instigation of the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation, which gave the stone its name: Benjamin Banneker: SW-9 Intermediate Boundary Stone . [21] It was the first of the boundary markers to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

South Corner. [22] This boundary marker in Virginia was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, together with Alexandria's Jones Point Lighthouse . [25]

Southwest 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8; West Corner; Northwest 1, 2, and 3. These boundary markers in Virginia were added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 1, 1991.

District of Columbia and Maryland

Northwest 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; North Corner; Northeast 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; East Corner; Southeast 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9. These boundary markers, located along the border between the District of Columbia and Maryland , were added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 1, 1996. [30]

Preservation efforts

In 1976, the National Capital Planning Commission published a report that described the history and condition of each boundary stone. [10] The report recommended that measures be taken to assure the stones' preservation. [10]

In 1995, the Northern Virginia Boundary Stones Committee, whose establishment the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) had requested, issued a list of recommendations intended to document and preserve the 14 boundary stones that were located in Virginia. The Committee included representatives of the State of Maryland and of Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia . [33]

In 2008, the NVRC announced that four Virginia local governments, including Arlington and Fairfax counties and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, had agreed to help fund a project to protect and preserve the boundary stones by providing matching funds to a Transportation Enhancement Grant that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) had received from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). The announcement stated that the NVRC was working on an agreement with the DDOT, the National Park Service and the FHA to administer the project. [35]

However, the preservation project had not yet begun by 2012. It appeared that the DDOT no longer had the funds that had been allocated for the project. [37] In the meantime, teams of volunteers had begun to landscape and repaint the fences surrounding the stones. [5]

In 2014, the National Park Service , the historic preservation staff of the District of Columbia Office of Planning, the DDOT and the DAR initiated an effort to rehabilitate the boundary markers that were located along the District's contemporary boundaries. [47] As part of the project, in January 2015 a DDOT crew unearthed a stone buried in 1962 that had replaced Southeast No. 8, with the intention of cleaning and restoring the marker. [48]

Missing boundary markers

Four of the forty original boundary markers were not in or near their original locations in 2006. Three of these had been replaced with substitute markers.

Southwest No. 2 Boundary Marker

The original marker disappeared before 1900. A marker stone now within a DAR fence near the street curb at 7 Russell Road north of King Street in Alexandria is a replacement. DAR records show that the replacement marker was placed at that location in 1920. The replacement marker lacks an inscription and does not resemble an original boundary marker. [5]

Northeast No. 1 Boundary Marker

A photograph taken on June 13, 1916, shows a ceremony that members of the DAR conducted when they placed a fence around this marker stone, which was then in a field. [10] The stone was bulldozed and removed in September 1952 during the construction of a storefront at 7847 Eastern Avenue, northwest of the avenue's intersection with Georgia Avenue . A bronze plaque in the sidewalk in front of a shop at the site marks the stone's former location. [5]

Southeast No. 4 Boundary Marker

This marker was located in 1976 along Southern Avenue a few feet southeast of the avenue's intersection with Naylor Road. [10] The stone subsequently disappeared but was recovered by volunteers from the Maryland Society of Surveyors while working on a resurvey of the D.C. line. David R. Doyle of Silver Spring, Maryland , placed the marker in his garage in 1991. [5]

Southeast No. 8 Boundary Marker

The original stone was removed in 1958 during construction and then either lost or stolen from a storage facility before it could be reset in the ground. In 1962, the DAR placed a new inscription-less stone in the same location along with the original stone's iron fence. However, further construction subsequently buried the replacement stone. [52]

The replacement stone was later discovered nearly eight feet below ground level in the southeast corner of the Blue Plains Impoundment Lot, on the Maryland side of the impoundment lot's fence. [52] A concrete pipe embedded in a mound of gravel was put in place to mark the replacement stone's site. [52] The top of the replacement stone, which could be seen through the interior of the pipe in 2006, subsequently disappeared beneath a covering of debris. [52] In January 2015, a DDOT crew unearthed the replacement stone, with the intention of cleaning and restoring the marker. [48] [52]

List of boundary stones

The 36 extant and four missing boundary stones are tabulated in sequence below, beginning at the southern corner and proceeding clockwise, in the same order as the stones were placed. The year of designation on the National Register of Historic Places is also included for each stone.

Southern corner

Name Also known as Address City/County Coordinates Status Designation
District of Columbia South Cornerstone South Cornerstone of the Original District of Columbia Seawall south of lighthouse, Jones Point Park, 1 Jones Point Drive, Alexandria City of Alexandria, Virginia; Prince George's County , Maryland Extant 1980

Southwestern side

Name Also known as Address City/County Coordinates Status Designation
Southwest No. 1 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 1220 Wilkes Street City of Alexandria, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 2 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia East side of Russell Road, north of junction with King Street City of Alexandria, Virginia Missing 1991
Southwest No. 3 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 2952 King Street, in the parking lot of First Baptist Church City of Alexandria, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 4 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia King Street north of junction with Wakefield Street City of Alexandria and Arlington County, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 5 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Northeast of junction of King Street and Walter Reed Drive Arlington County, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 6 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia South Jefferson Street south of junction with Columbia Pike, in median strip Arlington and Fairfax counties, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 7 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Behind 3101 South Manchester Street, in fence southwest of Carlin Springs Elementary School (5995 5th Road South) parking lot Arlington and Fairfax counties, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 8 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia South of junction of Wilson Boulevard and John Marshall Drive, behind apartment building Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, Virginia Extant 1991
Southwest No. 9 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Benjamin Banneker: SW-9 Intermediate Boundary Stone West side of Benjamin Banneker Park, 1701 North Van Buren Street, between 18th Street North and Four Mile Run Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, Virginia Extant 1976

Western corner

Name Also known as Address City/County Coordinates Status Designation
West Cornerstone West Jurisdiction Stone In Andrew Ellicott Park at the West Cornerstone, 2824 N. Arizona St, Arlington, VA [5] Arlington County, City of Falls Church, and Fairfax County, Virginia Extant 1991

Northwestern side

Name Also known as Address City/County Status Designation
Northwest No. 1 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 3607 Powhatan Street Arlington and Fairfax counties, Virginia Extant 1991
Northwest No. 2 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 5145 North 38th Street Arlington and Fairfax counties, Virginia Extant 1991
Northwest No. 3 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 4013 North Tazewell Street Arlington and Fairfax counties, Virginia Extant 1991
Northwest No. 4 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 5906 Dalecarlia Place, Northwest Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County , Maryland Extant 1996
Northwest No. 5 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Dalecarlia Reservoir, 600 feet (180 m) west of Dalecarlia Parkway and 300 feet (91 m) southeast of concrete culvert Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northwest No. 6 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 150 feet (46 m) northeast of junction of Park and Western Avenues, Northwest Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northwest No. 7 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 5600 Western Avenue Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northwest No. 8 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 6422 Western Avenue Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northwest No. 9 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Rock Creek Park, approximately 165 feet (50 m) Northwest of the centerline of Daniel Road and 5 feet (1.5 m) southeast from edge of 2701 Daniel Road Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996

Northern corner

Name Also known as Address City/County Coordinates Status Designation
North Corner Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 1880 block of East-West Highway (south side) Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996

Northeastern side

Name Also known as Address City/County Status Designation
Northeast No. 1 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Missing
Northeast No. 2 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 6980 Maple Street, Northwest Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 3 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 144 feet (44 m) northwest of junction of Eastern Avenue and Chillum Road Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County , Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 4 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 5400 Sargent Road Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 5 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 4609 Eastern Avenue Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 6 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 3601 Eastern Avenue Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 7 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Fort Lincoln Cemetery Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 8 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens , northwest of junction of Eastern and Kenilworth Avenues Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Northeast No. 9 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 919 Eastern Avenue Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996

Eastern corner

Name Also known as Address City/County Coordinates Status Designation
East Corner Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 100 feet (30 m) east of junction of Eastern and Southern Avenues Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996

Southeastern side

Name Address City/County Coordinates Status Designation
Southeast No. 1 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 30 feet (9.1 m) south of junction of Southern Avenue and D Street Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Southeast No. 2 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 4245 Southern Avenue Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Southeast No. 3 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 3908 Southern Avenue Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Southeast No. 4 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Missing
Southeast No. 5 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 280 feet (85 m) northeast of junction of Southern Avenue and Valley Terrace Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Southeast No. 6 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 901 Southern Avenue Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Southeast No. 7 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 25 feet (7.6 m) northeast of junction of Southern Avenue and Indian Head Road Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996
Southeast No. 8 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Missing
Southeast No. 9 Boundary Marker of the Original District of Columbia 0.225 miles (0.362 km) southwest of the southern end of Oxon Cove Bridge and about 120 feet (37 m) east of the Potomac River, at the base of a hill [5] Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland Extant 1996

District of Columbia entrance markers

A group of entrance markers, erected later along major roads that travel into the District of Columbia, are located on or near the boundary of D.C. and Maryland.

An entrance marker stands in a traffic circle (Blair Circle) near Silver Spring at the junction of Eastern Avenue NW , 16th Street NW , N. Portal Drive NW and Colesville Road . [5] This marker is between the North Corner boundary marker and the former site of the Northeast No. 1 boundary marker of the original District of Columbia.

Three pairs of marker stones and another single stone are known collectively as the Garden Club of America Entrance Markers . [57] They are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.