A Whirl on the Ferris Wheel

A Whirl on the Ferris Wheel (HMG9S)

Location: Washington, DC 20019
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 53.978', W 76° 55.895'

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A Self Reliant People

— Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail —

To your right it is the former Merritt Educational Center which operated from 1943 to 2008. However, if you were standing here in the 1920s or '30s, in its place you would have seen exuberant crowds of fashionably dressed African Americans enjoying Suburban Gardens Amusement Park.

The park was built in 1921 by architectural engineer Howard D. Woodson, writer John H. Paynter, theater magnate Sherman H. Dudley, and other investors of the black-owned Universal Development and Company. It was the first and only amusement park within the District boundaries. Suburban Gardens park provided seven acres of recreational haven for the region's African Americans, who due to racial segregation, were barred from white-owned amusement parks such as Maryland's Glen Echo.

The public flocked to Suburban Gardens by streetcar, commuter train, private automobile, and even on foot. The park was so popular that on one Monday in 1921, jostling crowds waiting to pay the 10-cent admission fee actually knocked down the gate. Park-goers enjoyed the Deep Dipper roller coaster, Ferris wheel, aero swing, swimming pool, games of chance, picnic grounds, and children's playground. The park's large dance pavilion presented both lesser-known musicians and well-known jazz artists such as Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. After entertaining African Americans for nearly two decades, the park closed its gates for good in 1940.

The U.S. government built temporary barracks for soldiers here in 1943. Soon after the building served as Emma F. G. Merritt Elementary School, honoring the educator, civic leader and former president of the local NAACP chapter. The current school building went up in 1976.
HM NumberHMG9S
Marker Number5 of 15
Placed ByCultural Tourism DC
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 at 10:18am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 332497 N 4307412
Decimal Degrees38.89963333, -76.93158333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 53.978', W 76° 55.895'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 53' 58.68" N, 76° 55' 53.70" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)202
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 728 49th St NE, Washington DC 20019, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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