Place in Time
We walk through Jones Point Park today enjoying the pastoral scene within the city and under the shadow of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. As dogs romp and children play soccer, it is incredible to imagine how this boot of land became the starting point for America's capital, the District of Columbia. The Residence Act was passed on July 15, 1790, authorizing President Washington to locate the ten-mile-square capital on the Potomac River between the Eastern Branch (Anacostia River) and the Connogocheque, near Williamsport, Maryland. On the advice of Andrew Ellicott, the director of the D.C. survey, Washington altered his initial plan to include the thriving port of Alexandria the southeastern and southwestern sides of the District would "Begin...at Jones Point, being the upper cape of Hunting Creek."
The survey team crossed the marshy western end of Jones Point and set up camp near shore. Mathematician Benjamin Banneker maintained the high-tech astronomical and surveying instruments and did the calculations to assure proper alignment of the boundaries. The team indicated the precise spot where the first of forty stones would be put to demarcate the boundaries of the District.
The stones marking the boundary are unbelievably still extant in today's urban environment. Walk to the seawall near the lighthouse and look down into the opening to see what remains of the southern cornerstone. Although the original stone was erected with grand ceremony on April 15, 1791, it is possible that it was replaced in 1794. Other boundary markers can be viewed along the southwestern line of the District of Columbia that cuts across Alexandria: Southwest Mile Marker 1 at the southeast corner of Wilkes and Payne streets; Southwest Mile Marker 2 at the east side of Russell Road north of King Street; Southwest Mile Marker 3 at the north end of the First Baptist Church parking lot, 2900 King Street. They are protected by fences placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
SPECIAL NOTE: Southwest Mile Marker 4 is just north of Alexandria near the Fairlington Historic District on King Street between Interstate 395 and Wakefield Street. The stone is greatly reduced in size, is surrounded by an iron fence, and currently maintained by the Daughters of the America Revolution and the Fairlington Historical Society.