Who are These People? Round DC

February 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm (Uncategorized)

In the spirit of history and my new year resolutions–eat better, exercise more, and go easy on DC–here are some nonscholarly Wiki fueled facts about the men (and one woman) that give Washingtonians the walk around.  As one of my recent holiday gifts was a subscription to the Sunday Washington Post; I think I’m already taking appropriate steps this year to eat my veggies.

Dupont Circle

Samuel Francis Du Pont by Daniel Huntington

The most famous of DC circles for decades of SAISers and geigh men complete with a shout-out in The American President and a working fountain, Dupont Circle is the king of NW.  Its arteries include the famed diagonals of Massachusetts and New Hampshire Avenues.  Construction started in 1871 as Pacific Circle, but in 1882 Congress changed it to Dupont after the Civil War Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont.  There was a statue of the man in the center, but in 1921 the fountain was added representing the sun, stars, and wind.

Dupont was born in prestigious Bayonne, New Jersey (fascinating!) and was the first of his generation to capitalize the “D” in his name.  I believe this is a solid American break from the grammatical traditions of the Old World.  He served in the Mexican-American and Civil Wars and is believed to have helped modernize the US Navy.  He was controversially blamed for the Union failure at Charleston during the Civil War.  He married his first cousin.

Logan Circle

The most beautiful circle in DC and setting for the excellent book The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Ethopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu, Logan Circle feels like the best of Boston in our nation’s capital.  It was Camp Barker in the 19th century, a refugee haven for newly freed slaves from VA and MD.  It was called Iowa Circle, which is why the stately turn of the century condominium building on 13th Street south of the Circle is the Iowa.   In 1930, the circle was renamed for General John Logan who fought for the Union during the Civil War and was a Senator from Illinois.  He is credited for founding Memorial Day.

Thomas Circle

George Henry Thomas - Brady-Handy.jpg

Known as the divider between 14th Street and Downtown Washington, Thomas Circle is named for Civil War Union General George Henry Thomas.  Thomas sided with the Union even though he was from Virginia.  Famous for being slow and deliberate in taking military action, he was a very successful General, but didn’t promote his legacy. Even in the 19th century, nice girls finished last.

Scott Circle


Famous for its cherry blossoms and the art deco One General Scott Apartment Complex, Scott Circle is named after “Old Fuss and Feathers” General Winfield Scott.  Scott served on active duty longer than any other man in the U.S. Army history.  He worked under every president from Jefferson to Lincoln and ran for President in 1852 as a member of the Whig Party. *Warning! If you live on Scott Circle for too long you will absorb some of Old Fuss and Feathers fussy tendencies…it’s important to leave while you are still young!*

Washington Circle

George Washington

The most famous of men, if not circles, Washington Circle is dedicated the same man as the city itself.  It was the first traffic circle established in DC and the Statue of George Washington was raised in 1860.

Sheridan Circle

Philip Sheridan 1-restored.jpg

In the famed Embassy Row area, Sheridan Circle is named after Civil War Union General Philip Sheridan.  He was prosecuted for his role in the Indian Wars of the Great Plains and was also involved in the protection of Yellowstone National Park.

Barney Circle


The lesser-known Barney Circle is a triangle located in the Capital Hill area of SE Washington.  It is named after Joseph Joshua Barney, a hero of the War of 1812.

Truxton Circle

Truxton Circle is a trapezoid in NW DC between New Jersey, Florida, New York Avenues and North Capitol Street.  The old traffic circle was demolished, but it was named after Captain Thomas Truxton.  Born on Strong Island, although before the Irish and Italians it was known as Long Island, Truxton was a privateer during the American Revolutionary War.  The town of Truxton, somewhere in upstate New York, is named after him.

Anna J. Cooper Circle

A traffic circle between 3rd and T Streets, NW in LeDroit Park.  It was named after Anna Julia Haywood Cooper in 1983.  Cooper was an author, feminist, and educator.  She was the fourth African American woman to earn a PhD.

Benjamin Banneker Circle

A partial traffic circle in SW.  It is named after Benjamin Banneker an African American astronomer and almanac author.  He wrote a letter to Jefferson asking for justice for African Americans.

Columbus Circle

Dedicated to the famous Italian Christopher Columbus, Columbus Circle is by E and First Streets, NE.  It is located between Union Station and the Capitol.

Ward Circle

At the intersection of Nebraska and Massachusetts Avenues in NW, it is surrounded by American University and the Department of Homeland Security.  It is named after Major General Artemas Ward, a General during the Revolutionary War and a Congressman from Massachusetts.

Garfield Circle

Located between Maryland and First Street SW, this circle is near the Capitol Reflection Pool and Botanic Garden. It is named after 20th President of the United States James A. Garfield who was killed in office after only four months.

Grant Circle

Ulysses S. Grant in a formal black and white photo. Grant is seated with arms folded. Grant looks weary and his beard is greying. This is the photo used for the $50.00 bill.

Grant Circle is at the intersection of New Hampshire and Illinois Avenues and Varnum and 5th Streets in the Petworth area of NW.  It is named for President and Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant.

Sherman Circle


Another NW traffic circle in Petworth named after Civil War General William Sherman.

Tenley Circle

Tenley Circle is in the Tenlytown area of DC.  It is named after John Tennally, a tavern owner and resident in 1790. Tenlytown is named after him.

Up next? Square DC.

Parks included.


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