Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Ceremony at the Crossroads
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
“Imagine a great avenue
[with] solid ranks of soldiers,
just marching steady all day long,
for two days. ...”
It took two days for the grand parade of 200,000 victorious Union soldiers described by the great American poet and Civil War nurse Walt Whitman to march down Pennsylvania Avenue past this spot, headed for review by President Andrew Johnson at the White House.
Whitman might have been standing right here on May 23 or 24, 1865. This had been the ceremonial and commercial crossroads of the city since the federal government moved to the banks of the Potomac River in 1800. Pennsylvania Avenue has been an inaugural parade route for every President since Thomas Jefferson. For 130 years, this triangular space before you was the city’s town square–home of the Center Market where Cabinet secretaries, government clerks and laborers alike might be seen with a live chicken under the arm.
All around you are reminders of the Civil War. A statue of Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, a hero at Gettysburg, commands
Today, some of the history made here is preserved in the great neo-classical National Archives building just across Pennsylvania Avenue. Market Space is now the hub of a new downtown, alive with theaters and restaurants, a new sports arena, museums, shops and homes–a mixture of activities that reflects its historic role as the heart of the nations’s capital.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number .2.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Fraternal or Sororal Organizations • Peace • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail, the Former U.S. Presidents: #03 Thomas Jefferson, the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson, and the Walt Whitman 🏳️🌈 series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is May 23, 1865.
Location. Touch for map. Marker was at or near this postal address: 301 7th Street Northwest, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. A different marker also named Ceremony at the Crossroads (here, next to this marker); General Winfield Scott Hancock (within shouting distance of this marker); Grand Army of the Republic (within shouting distance of this marker); America's Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); National Council of Negro Women (within shouting distance of this marker); The Navy Memorial - from Bow to Stern (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The United States Navy Memorial (about 300 feet away); Chief Petty Officers' (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has been replaced by the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,790 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2. submitted on July 1, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 3. submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 4. submitted on July 1, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on December 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 11, 12, 13, 14. submitted on July 1, 2012, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.