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The name Meridian Hill comes from a proposal in the early 1800s to establish an official meridian or longitudinal base point, for map-making and other purposes, through the mid-point of the White House. A plaque at the upper entrance to the park from 16th Street takes official note of an 1816 meridian marker which stood on the proposed meridian.
Meridian Hill Park was designed and built between 1912 and 1936, and has been under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service since 1933. The idea of a park at the site goes back to the 1901 McMillan plan for the city, which suggested a park on both sides of 16th Street at Meridian Hill in recognition of the site's panoramic views and important position relative to the L'Enfant Plan for the city.The park is divided into two principal areas: the lower park, with a water cascade of linked basins, symmetric stairways and a large reflecting pool surrounded by a plaza; and the upper park with an open mall, wooded areas flanking the mall, and a broad terrace overlooking the lower park.
http://www.nps.gov/mehi/index.htm
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