Southwest Waterfront in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Banneker Circle: Vista to the Past
River Farms to Urban Towers
— Southwest Heritage Trail —
This high ground serves as a monument to Benjamin Banneker, a free African American who charted the stars for the first survey of Washington, DC. Banneker was 60 years old when he hired on to assist surveyor Andrew Ellicott. A tobacco planter from Baltimore County, Maryland, Banneker had taught himself mathematics and astronomy. With these skills, he observed the stars’ movements each night. Ellicott used Banneker’s calculations to determine the District’s boundaries. In addition, Banneker published a series of almanacs predicting the movements of the sun, moon, and stars to guide farmers in the best timing for planting and harvesting.
This vista once belonged to Notley Young. The Maryland planter owned nearly all of today’s Southwest when President George Washington chose the spot, then part of Maryland, for the new nation’s capital in 1791. Young’s brick mansion stood close to where you are now. Young owned many farms in the new city and nearby Maryland, and reported owning 265 slaves to 1790 Census takers. Before the Revolution, Maryland’s Catholics were prohibited from worshiping in public churches, so Young and his
The L’Enfant Promenade to your right, designed by I. M. Pei and others for New York developer William Zeckendorf, now covers the site of Young’s house. Zeckendorf envisioned a dramatic expanse lined sith office and cultural buildings as a link between the National Mall and Southwest’s waterfront. Today’s Forrestal Building blocks what was to be a view to the Smithsonian castle.
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 8.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Industry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Southwest Heritage Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1791.
Location. 38° 52.916′ N, 77° 1.563′ W. Marker is in Southwest Waterfront in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of L'Enfant Plaza Southwest and Banneker Circle Southwest, in the median on L'Enfant Plaza Southwest. Marker is on the median off Banneker Circle at the north side of Benjamin Banneker Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 429 L'Enfant Plaza Southwest, Washington DC 20024, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Benjamin Banneker Park (a few steps from this marker); Maine Avenue Fish MarketAnnual Oyster Derby (about 500 feet away); Potomac River Shoreline (about 600 feet away); Waterfront Commerce (about 700 feet away); The River Queen (about 700 feet away); American Ice Company (about 700 feet away); Washington Kastles (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Southwest Waterfront.
More about this marker. [Picture Captions:]
Benjamin Banneker, astronomer and mathematician. (Maryland Historical Society.)
Farmers tend their produce at the farmer’s market that once operated between Tenth and Eleventh streets where the freeway now runs. (Library of Congress.)
This map shows the holdings of Notley Young, seen in the dual portrait with his wife Eleanor. Young owned much of Cerne Abbey Manor. (The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. - Map by Cynthia Elliot and Sheila Waters based on the research by Patricia W. McNeil and Don Hawkins.)
In the 1880s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging the Washington Channel and building up mudflats to create Hains Point, visible across the channel from this overlook. (Washingtoniana Division, D.C. Public Library.)
Additional keywords. Potomac River
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 5, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,590 times since then and 34 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1. submitted on December 5, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 6, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.