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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793

Jones Point Park

 
 
The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 7, 2012
1. The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 Marker
Inscription. After the Revolutionary War, the new nation searched fora permanent seat of government. President George Washington favored a 10-mile square territory along the Potomac River that encompassed the economically important ports of Georgetown and Alexandria. In 1791, the first boundary stone for the federal district—the south cornerstone—was laid with great fanfare right here on Jones Point. The District of Columbia was incorporated ten years later. Alexandria remained within the capital boundaries until an 1846 Act of Congress returned the land west of the Potomac River to Virginia the following year.

The Survey
Major Andrew Ellicott, owner of one of the finest sets of surveying instruments in the country, was put in charge of the D.C. boundary survey and established the first base camp on Jones Point. On-site measurements and round-the-clock astronomical calculations were conducted by Benjamin Banneker, a free black, self-taught in math and astronomy. Image courtesy of the Maryland Transportation Authority

After laying the first cornerstone here at Jones Point, Ellicott's team embarked on a 40-mile journey that took nearly two years. They created the boundary lines of the capital by clearing 20 feet of land on each side, then setting upright stones at each mile interval. Today 37 of the
The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 7, 2012
2. The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 Marker
The pyramidal window covering the south cornerstone of DC is visible on the left in this photo.
original 40 stones remain. Look for them in woods, parking lots and even private yards.

L'Enfant's Folly
Although federal buildings were never intended to be constructed in Alexandria, Pierre L'Enfant, designer of the plan of Washington, hoped to extend the axial arrangement of the federal city across the river. His proposal was to erect a picturesque marker on Jones Point to complete the vista from the White House.

"From these hights (sic) every grand building would rear...facing...the Potomac with the town of Alexandria in front...at the end of which the Cape of Hunting Creek [Jones Point] appears directly where a corner stone of the Federal District is to be placed and in the room of which a majestic column or a grand pyramid being erected would produce the happiest effect and completely finish the landscape."
 
Erected 2012 by National Park Service.
 
Location. 38° 47.423′ N, 77° 2.432′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Jones Point Drive east of South Royal Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. On the east side of Jones Point lighthouse. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this
The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 Marker at the Jones Point Lighthouse image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 7, 2012
3. The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 Marker at the Jones Point Lighthouse
marker. First Original Federal Boundary Stone (here, next to this marker but has been reported missing); D.C.'s First Building Block (here, next to this marker); Who Owns the River? (a few steps from this marker); Mistress Margaret Brent (within shouting distance of this marker); The Remarkable Margaret Brent (within shouting distance of this marker); The Jones Point Lighthouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mountains of Materials and Massive Manpower (about 700 feet away); World Wars to the Present (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesPolitics
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 8, 2012, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 561 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 8, 2012, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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