“The Water Whisperers”—keeping DC fountains pumping and flowing
Meridian Hill Park in Washington, DC occupies 12 acres on a prominent escarpment just 1.5 miles north of the White House. From the top of the escarpment, the park provides a sweeping view, facing south, from the domes of the Capitol and Library of Congress across to the Washington Monument. A 13-basin cascade, said to the longest in North America, leads from the top of the escarpment through an Italianate landscape to a basin below. The park, which is administered by the National Park Service, opened to the public in 1936 although construction was not completed until 1940.
By the 1990s, when it was designated a National Historic Landmark, the park began to show its age and deferred maintenance and the fountains no longer ran, a symptom common of urban decay common to many inner cities across the United States. A grassroots campaign was successful in obtaining renewed attention to the park, and beginning in 2005, the National Park Service initiated long-needed repairs. While this work is ongoing, the cascade flows again. But that is not the case for all the public fountains across Washington.
By Steve Hendrix
The Washington Post
July 9, 2017