The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793

The Nations Capital Begins Here 1791-1793 (HM14V9)

Location: Alexandria, VA 22314
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 47.423', W 77° 2.432'

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Jones Point Park

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 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 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."
HM NumberHM14V9
Year Placed2012
Placed ByNational Park Service
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 at 2:45pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 322778 N 4295493
Decimal Degrees38.79038333, -77.04053333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 47.423', W 77° 2.432'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 47' 25.38" N, 77° 2' 25.92" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202, 703, 571
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 500 I-95, Alexandria VA 22314, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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