Posts Tagged ‘Edgewood neighborhood’

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Christ, The Light of the World”

During this lunchtime bike ride I found myself in the Edgewood neighborhood in northeast D.C., near the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and The Catholic University of America.  And as I was riding I saw a statue in a garden that to me looked vaguely like a different pose of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  So I stopped to get a closer look and find out more about it.

It turns out that the 17-foot-tall, 10-ton brass statue is entitled “Christ, the Light of the World.”  Located 3211 4th Street (MAP), it is in a garden in front of the headquarters for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  It was originally the idea of a woman named Marjorie Lambert Russell, who lived in Topeka, Kansas.  In 1936 she wrote a letter to Bishop John F. Noll, who was the founder of a publication entitled “Our Sunday Visitor.”  Bishop Noll frequently used the pages of the newspaper to advocate for important Catholic causes in the United States, and she suggested that that the publication begin a drive to erect a statue of Christ in our nation’s capital.  Russell pointed out that since D.C. had many statues of famous people, one should be erected to represent the greatest person who had ever walked the earth.  Along with the letter she enclosed a dollar bill, which was to serve as the first donation to fund the statue.

The idea appealed to Bishop Noll, who published her letter in the newspaper. The idea caught on with its readers, who soon began sending in donations for the project which would eventually total more than $150,000.  Bishop Noll later arranged for the statue, designed and created by University of Notre Dame art professor Eugene Kormendi, to be placed outside the National Catholic Welfare Conference headquarters, which at that time was located at 1312 Massachusetts Avenue in downtown D.C.

Bishop Noll presented the statue to the conference, and was present at its dedication ceremony in April of 1949, where it was dedicated by The Most Reverend Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, and accepted by The Most Reverend John T. McNicholas, Chairman of the National Catholic Welfare Conference Administrative Board.  Half a century later, in 1989, the statue was moved to its current home in front of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offices, where I saw it today.

christlightoftheworld02[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]

The Metropolitan Branch Trail

The Metropolitan Branch Trail

On this ride I explored the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which is an eight-mile trail that runs through the middle of D.C. (MAP), from Union Station downtown all the way to the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad Station in Silver Spring, Maryland. Seven miles of the trail are within the city limits, and one mile is in Maryland. The trail gets its name from the Metropolitan Branch Line of the B&O Railroad, which the trail parallels. It is technically considered a rail-trail conversion because a key section of the trail is on former B&O Railroad right-of-way.

The urban trail takes cyclists past graffiti, industrial sites, train tracks, a brewery, and a touch of greenery as it passes through several of D.C.’s vibrant and historic neighborhoods, including the NOMA, Edgewood, Eckington and Brookland neighborhoods. Used much more for utilitarian purposes than for recreation, the trail is an important transportation route providing connections to homes and work, as well as access to seven Metro stations, and the National Mall.

However, the Metropolitan Branch Trail currently remains unfinished.  Plans for the future include connections to the area’s trail network such as the Capital Crescent Trail, Anacostia Trails System, and integration into the East Coast Greenway.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

Wooden Sculptures in Glenwood Cemetery

Wooden Sculptures in Glenwood Cemetery

After a local ordinance was passed in 1852 barring the creation of new cemeteries in many parts of the city at that time, Glenwood Cemetery was founded in what was then considered a “rural” area.  Located at 2219 Lincoln Road (MAP) in northeast D.C.’s Edgewood neighborhood, Glenwood Cemetery is a private, secular cemetery that is home to enough elaborate Victorian and Art Nouveau funerary monuments to make almost any taphophile satisfied.  But more recently, it has also become home to some ornately carved wooden sculptures that have started to develop into a minor tourist attraction in their own right.

There is actually a set of four wooden sculptures located behind the cemetery’s Romanesque Revival mortuary chapel, which is itself an attraction and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The largest sculpture is 30 feet tall and depicts a large dragon’s arm catching a smaller dragon.  Right next to the dragon is a piece depicting a sabertooth tiger, with woodland animals at its feet.  The remaining two are of angels. The sculptures were inspired by passages in the Bible from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 20:1-3, 7, which reads, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon–that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan–and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. .. When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. (New Living Translation)”

According to the superintendent of the cemetery, the statues were carved by Dayton Scoggins, a world renowned chainsaw sculptor artist, in lieu of simply removing some of the cemetery’s old-growth trees that were either dying or heavily damaged in storms.  The decision to utilize the dying trees and to make something out of the wood ironically gave the dead trees in the cemetery “a new life.”

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[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]