DC Mythbusting: Obscure Monuments and Memorials

Photo courtesy of
‘Albert Einstein’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

Having lived in the District for several years, and considering myself pretty knowledgeable about how to get around the city, I’m always happy to point tourists in the right direction when they’re wandering around lost.  But this past weekend, I was stumped– I was asked for directions to the Titanic Memorial, and I had no idea that such a memorial even existed in the District.  If I hadn’t heard about that one, what else was I missing out on?

If you know where the obscure Albert Einstein Memorial (above) is located, it’s easy to think you know where all of the monuments and memorials in the District are.  But would you believe that there’s a monument dedicated to Maine lobstermen here?  Or a park dedicated to Sonny Bono?  Or a memorial showing a fireman being run over? Let me just go ahead and confirm the myth– all these things exist.  Read on to find out what you’re missing!

Photo courtesy of
‘Maine Lobster Memorial’
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

The Maine Lobstermen Memorial
Really, a tribute to Maine lobstermen here in the District?  Believe it or not, it’s here. And it’s not as strange as it seems– it does sit on Maine Avenue, close to the Maine Avenue Fish Market. This statue is a copy of a statue created for the 1939 World’s Fair. The original was displayed in the Hall of States to show what Maine was all about.  This replica was created in the 1970s and has been sitting here in DC since 1983.  Read all about this “obscure monument to lobsterdom” at Roadside America.

Photo courtesy of
‘Sonny Bono’
courtesy of ‘dbking’

Sonny Bono Memorial Park
A park dedicated to the memory of entertainer Sonny Bono, right in the middle of the Dupont Circle neighborhood? Yep, it’s there.  When Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident in 1998, his friend and local real estate developer Geary Simon wanted to pay tribute to him in the District.  So Simon bought an unused triangle of land at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue, 20th Street, and O Street, installed sprinklers, benches, and a fence, and the Sonny Bono Memorial Park was born.  Fun fact: beneath the park lies a vault of Sonny Bono memorabilia, including sheet music and campaign memorabilia from Bono’s congressional campaign.

Photo courtesy of
‘Monument to a Run-Over Fireman’
courtesy of ‘Chuck â��Cavemanâ�� Coker’

Run-Over Fireman Monument
Ok, this has to be a joke: a monument showing a DC firefighter getting run over? This one exists too!  And it’s so weird that it has garnered a spot on the list of America’s Strangest Monuments.  It shows the demise of Benjamin Grenup, a DC fireman who was killed in 1856 when he was run over by a firetruck.  The monument is located at Glenwood Cemetery in Northeast DC.

Photo courtesy of
‘Women’s Titanic Memorial Sculpture’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

The Women’s Titanic Memorial
The memorial that I was asked about last week is currently located at 4th and P Streets in Southwest, but it hasn’t always been there.  The Women’s Titanic Memorial was unveiled in 1931 in Rock Creek Park along the Potomac River, but it was moved in 1966 to accommodate the construction of the Kennedy Center.  And even though it’s called the Women’s Titanic Memorial, it actually honors men.  After the Titanic disaster, a group of women petitioned Congress to allow them to create a monument to the gallant men who allowed women and children to board the lifeboats first.  Fun fact: Kate Winslet imitated this pose in the 1997 movie Titanic.

If you had told me there were tributes in the District to Maine lobstermen, Sonny Bono, a run-over fireman, and the Titanic, I wouldn’t have believed you.  But DC is full of surprises!  And these aren’t the only bizarre and obscure monuments out there in the city.  Have you come across any other strange monuments or memorials that seem a little out of place here?

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at) WeLoveDC.com!

7 thoughts on “DC Mythbusting: Obscure Monuments and Memorials

  1. The memorial to Samuel Hahnemann in Scott Circle. It always amazes me that one of the prettiest statues/memorials in this city is dedicated to a medical quack. Homeopathy, really?

  2. BTW, when you’re at the Einstein statue, be sure to stand at the center of the universe and talk to Einstein. He might just talk back…

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  4. Ah, but can you find the memorial to Air Mail? How about the memorial plaque to Robert’s Rules of Order? Andrew Mellon memorial? Anniversary of Irish Independence Memorial? How about John Ericcson, inventor of the screw propeller?