Meridian Hill Park Or Malcolm X Park? (Poll)

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

One park, two names.

An interesting debate arose on Twitter this afternoon after Washington City Paper managing editor Mike Madden declared that the newspaper would refer to the park at 2500 16th Street NW as Malcolm X Park, not Meridian Hill Park.

A few things to consider: the National Park Service owns the land and officially calls it Meridian Hill Park. From NPS:

The name Meridian Hill comes from a proposal in the early 1800s to establish an official meridian or longitudinal base point, for map-making and other purposes, through the mid-point of the White House. A plaque at the upper entrance to the park from 16th Street takes official note of an 1816 meridian marker which stood on the proposed meridian.

A city sign refers to the park using both names. A proposal came before Congress after the 1968 riots to officially rename the park as Malcolm X Park. It didn’t pass, but the name persisted.

We asked what our readers call the park and why. A number of you tweeted that the name you use, both Malcolm X and Meridian Hill, is how you were first introduced to the park. Native and longtime Washingtonians were also split. (Disclosure: I’ve been known to call it Malcolm X Park).

But why not a more systematic way to measure the pulse of D.C. on this issue? Alas, a poll. Vote below, and tell us your reasoning in the comments section. Do you think the name people use says something about their connection to D.C., or is it just about what’s most accurate?

  • Adam L

    This is ridiculous. Its name is Meridian Hill Park. There was an attempt to rename it and it failed. End of story. Having street signs that indicate the opposite would be erroneous as calling 16th Street NW next to park, “Ronald Reagan Boulevard”…

  • Anonymous

    Meridian Hill/Malcolm X. Not one or the other, both. 

  • Ms. T.

    As a life long citizen of DC, having survived the ’68 riots I have known it as both Meridian Hill and Malcolm X Park. However, I perfer Malcolm because during the years immediately following the riots it became a cultural meeting place for the city’s Black residents who had the conciousness of mind to plan and strategize ways to hold our communities together; to serve, educate and uplift a group of people who had just lost their champion for justice. How fitting that when one man of vision has fallen, another would symbolically rise in his place to as a sanctuary of vision and hope.  

  • Adam L

    It’s Meridian Hill Park. A proposal came before Congress in 1968 and it failed. End of story. A proposal came before Congress to refer to 16th Street as “Ronald Reagan Boulevard” but it too (thankfully) failed. Still, you don’t see street signs that name the road after the 40th President.

  • pepperman

    I’d love to name some more things after Malcolm X in this City, even streets as they have in New York City, but this historic name should not be changed.  And this formal, hyper-designed European-style architecture does not seem to be a fitting style for Malcolm X !  Can’t they find something that would really seem to represent him and his live and impact better??

  • Sean Gallagher

    I tend to agree with Pepperman below – the grand stately/european style of that park does not exactly scream ‘Malcom X’ to me. I gladly called it MX for a bout 6-7 years until i started living a block away and doing google map projects that forced me to see it called Meridian Hill park over and over.  Parks often have an official name and a nickname so this does not have to be a zero-sum choice. Growing up in Oakland CA I used to go to a park off the freeway that randomly had a stage coach and we used to call it Stage Coach Park. Now I see that’s not the name (  Although I knew this as Malcom X Park for many years and would love to see him honored – perhaps this park is not the place/thing to honor him with. That being said – I really liked Ms. T’s comments below and loved hearing that history first hand.

  • monkeyrotica

    Malcolm X was a great man, unlike Meridian Park who was a dirty Asian. Why did it get named after a liquor store owner anyway? We need to get rid of some of these dirty parks, I can tell you right now. But we also need our own African-American parks. I am not a crackpot.

  • That Guy

    Naming it “Malcolm X Park” would be a great way to lower property values. Maybe the neighborhood will become more affordable that way and stop evil gentrification?

  • Zegan1

    It’s Malcolm X Park if you have any respect for native Washingtonians.  It’s Meridian Hill Park if you’re the kind of person who smugly points at the map and reminds your neighbors that back in 1968 they didn’t have the political capital to have a minor park’s name changed.  End of story. 

  • V2

     You don’t need to be anti-Asian in order to be pro-Afro-American. Let’s not replace one form of bigotry with another.

  • needmem

    Native Washingtonians were the same people who re-elected Marion Barry four times.  They were obviously dealt a lousy hand but they were determined to make the worst of it.  I don’t think they’re entitled to a lot of deference.  Moreover, people who use the unofficial name act as if history began in 1968; there actually is a story to tell about the creation of the park but it has nothing to do with Malcolm X.

  • KEDD

    I call it Joan of Arc Park, since her statue graces the heart of the park.  I also refer to it as Meridian or Malcolm X to others so they can find it.