The Birthplace of Me

When I watched the 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz” for the first time on television back in the 1960s and heard the Tinman, portrayed by Jack Haley, proclaim, “Someday they’ll erect a statue to me,” I said to myself, “It could happen, you know.” I said this knowing that people who become famous for one reason or another might get a statue or perhaps their name attached to a public building, such as a library. Yet, for me, I thought that the ultimate honor would be to have one’s birthplace added to the National Register of Historic Places and made into a destination for scholars and tourists from all over. Let’s call it a childhood fantasy.

I know that I was born in Washington, DC at the Georgetown University Medical Center in the NW DC neighborhood that gets its name, not from the university, but from either King George II or the two founders who both had the first name “George”.

After I was born, we remained in Washington, DC for another six months or so before my father was accepted to a master’s program at the University of St. Louis. In a little over a year, we were living in Ft Worth, and as a result, I do not have any recollection of the first two places that we lived.

As to where we exactly lived in Washington, I was always told by my parents that we lived in Georgetown; so close to the National Zoo that, according to my mother, during the summer when the windows were open at night, she could hear the animal noises coming from the zoo.

Yet, as I discovered the other day, our apartment was not in Georgetown-proper but rather on the opposite side of Rock Creek Park in the NW neighborhood of Mount Pleasant. For some reason, it never occurred to me to look on my birth certificate at the box labeled “Mother’s Home Address” and to see that we lived at 3340 16th St NW, an apartment building located on the corner of 16th St NW and Monroe St NW. Putting that information into Google Maps was one of those “why didn’t I think of this years ago” moments; especially considering that Google Street View has been around since 2007.

3340 16th St NW, Washington, D.C.
Credit: Google Maps

The three-story apartment building that is located about two miles due north of the White House and about three blocks east of the zoo appears to have been built back in the early part of the 20th century. Mount Pleasant became a “street-car suburb” of DC around 1900. The older apartment building is attached to a multi-story apartment building that looks like it was built after the 1960s. That is the Park Monroe Apartments located at 3300 16th St. NW.

I do not know for certain what floor we lived on; however, I have a memory of my father telling me that we lived in a third-floor walk-up. Also, I have only a few photographs, all of which were taken in the interior of the apartment.

This one is my favorite…

In 1987, the Mount Pleasant neighborhood was designated as a historic district. Also, a few blocks south of where the apartment sits is the 16th St NW Historic District, located between Florida Avenue and H Avenue; the south-end of which is St. John’s Episcopal Church, across from Lafayette Park – the site of President Trump’s infamous photo-op with a Bible in hand.

16th Street NW runs north from Lafayette Park all the way up to Maryland state line, along what is designated as the Washington DC prime Meridian and some people consider the street to be on a Ley Line. See this NPR article titled “Why Are There Nearly 50 Houses of Worship On 16th Street in D.C.?” which describes why all the world’s religions are represented on what some folks refer to as the “highway to heaven.”

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