Mount Vernon Memorial Highway

Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, the segment of the George Washington Memorial Parkway leading south from Memorial Bridge, was the first parkway constructed and maintained by the U.S. government.

As a memorial to the nation's first president, it was the first road with a commemorative function explicit in its name and alignment. The parkway contributed to the establishment of a regional park system oriented along creek and river valleys, as envisioned in the 1902 McMillan Plan and 1920s NCPC plans. It was an important link in the evolution of parkway design from pioneering efforts in Westchester County to later federal projects such as Skyline Drive. It was also one of the first roads planned using aerial photography, and it established National Park Service standards for future parkway construction. The segment in the District includes Memorial Circle, about 1½ miles of roadway, the Boundary Channel Bridge (stone-faced concrete arch), light fixtures, specimen and ornamental trees, and planned vistas. It was authorized in 1928 and built in 1931-32 by the Bureau of Public Roads (Gilmore Clarke, consulting landscape architect and bridge designer; Jay Downer, consulting engineer). Monuments along the parkway include the Navy-Marine Memorial (designed 1922, built 1934) by Ernesto Begni del Piatta, in commemoration of those who died at sea during World War I, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove (1976).

DC listing November 8, 1964
National Register listing May 18, 1981



Columbia Island along west side of Potomac River (south from Memorial Circle, continuing in Virginia to Mount Vernon)