Historic Hydrants in Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

Hydrant 10: The Washington Monument and Grounds

From the"James B. Clow #324" hydrant on 17th Street about 150 feet past Constitution, you and the pooch can stand in awe of this magnificent 555-foot tall obelisk made of white marble. It took 50 years to finish building, and to this day the Washington Monument sets the height ceiling for new buildings-none of which can stand taller.

Walk This Way
Here, you can make an optional detour. You can continue across the grassy grounds west of 17th Street to explore the beauty of Constitution Gardens and the inspiration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Head over to the unforgettable Lincoln Memorial, where you turn right onto 23rd Street NW for a half mile to a left on Virginia Avenue, which leads to the Watergate Hotel. This is a long hike, another three miles to the Watergate and back, so don't tread lightly down this path. Check with the pup first. Most won't be up for the additional wear and tear. If you want to skip the Watergate or just drive to it later, go directly to Hydrant 11 below by walking diagonally across the monument grounds to 15th Street NW on the other side of the monument. Cross 15th Street and the Mall to Jefferson Drive and head east back toward the Capitol.

Optional Hydrant: The Watergate Hotel

In front of 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, you'll find a hydrant that Richard Nixon's"plumbers" may have stumbled into before botching their 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee's sixth-floor offices. If you stand here and look directly at the sixth floor, you will be seeing approximately where burglars did their duties.

Walk This Way
If you took the optional Watergate loop, retrace your steps back to 17th Street, or follow the edge of the Potomac River south in front of the Kennedy Center and walk over to the Lincoln Memorial area.

Hydrant 11: The Smithsonian Museum

Along Jefferson Drive, beyond the entrance to the Castle, you'll find a slick, black"American Darling Valve" hydrant. From here, check out the carousel on the Mall and the beautiful, reddish Castle-the oldest building of the Smithsonian Institution. Inspired by twelfth century Norman architecture, it was completed in 1855 with funds provided by the illegitimate son of the Duke of Northumberland. A scientist who worked in chemistry, mineralogy, and geology, he bestowed his wealth "to the United States of America, to found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. . . ." The body of James Smithson now rests in the castle he paid for in the nation he never saw.

Walk This Way
Continue up Jefferson Drive. Check out the overlook into the Hirshhorn Museum's Sculpture Garden before crossing Seventh Street SW.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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