American Meridian Gathering

On November 14, 2010 · 7 Comments

I draw your attention to a comment from faithful reader "Craig" on my recent Third Anniversary announcement. I know a lot of you use RSS to skim through the articles so you probably didn’t catch it. He said, "Maybe we should have a Twelve Mile Circle Happy Hour to celebrate" and he even offered a suggestion, "Now, the question is, where would the best place be in the DC area to have a geo-oddities themed hour? I think somewhere along the American Meridian would be a good choice."

I’d been mulling similar thoughts for awhile, wondering if or when we might have a large enough critical mass of geo-geeks in the Washington, DC area to pull something like this off. Maybe we’re there. Let’s explore this further.

The American Meridian is a great suggestion on a number of levels. It goes through heavily-populated areas, it’s readily accessible and it offers abundant choices.



View American Meridian Line – TwelveMileCircle.com in a larger map


Craig suggest an area known as Crystal City, Virginia. That’s a densely packed community of office buildings, high-rise apartments and dozens of restaurants. I’m extremely familiar with this spot because I come here five days a week.

Funny thing, while I’m completely familiar with the American Meridian conceptually, I’d never followed it on a map precisely until Craig mentioned Crystal City. I suppose that’s the whole forest vs. trees situation. Now I realize that I cross the outdated Prime Meridian between its eastern and western hemispheres twice each workday. Sweet. This leads me to two inescapable conclusions: (1) the people at work are going to think I’m rather odd when I mention it; and (2) my inner geek compels me to dispel their ignorance anyway.

How about Mackey’s Public House, Craig wonders. I reply, that’s an excellent choice but my calculation puts the actual American Meridian line through the Chinese restaurant next door, Charlie Chiang’s (and I’m not going to include a link because it plays cheezy music in the background and I hate the intrusion. Punks).



View American Meridian Line – TwelveMileCircle.com in a larger map

I’ve measured the American Meridian several times and it keeps cutting through Charlie Chiangs although I’d desperately prefer it run through Mackey’s instead. Somehow the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet seems altogether less desirable than a couple of pints of Guinness. Regular readers of the Twelve Mile Circle know that I’m fine with "close enough" calculations. However, I don’t know how purists might feel if we met at the place next to the place intersected by the line. Buffet or beer? The choice is simple for me.

Then I got to thinking about an entire American Meridian theme. What if the idea took off and we wanted to consider future meridian events? There’s an interesting situation directly above the restaurants. The line slices cleanly through a swimming pool atop the building.



View American Meridian Line – TwelveMileCircle.com in a larger map

Imagine being able to swim from one hemisphere to the other. Imagine someone trying to work that into a pickup line. Relationship FAIL.

Here are some other fascinating places cleaved by the meridian:

So let’s hear from some DC-area aficionados of geo-oddities or from those from those of you who may travel here periodically. What’s the best timing (maybe after the holidays)? What location (is Mackey’s acceptable to the purists)? Please reply in the comments. I’m the only one who will be able to see your email address when you post a comment, so don’t worry about it escaping into the wild. I’m also fairly benign in spite of my odd geography fascination, as those on the list who have met me in person will attest.

I’ll work this offline once I compile a list of interested people. If it’s only me and Craig then that’s fine too. I’m willing to bet there may be others of you lurking out there.

On November 14, 2010 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “American Meridian Gathering”

  1. Dang, I’ll be away from DC starting in very early December for my time in Afghanistan. Anything before or after that would be good for me. Draft, curse my inconvenient schedule!

  2. Craig says:

    You know, your line north seems to run up the middle of 24th St NW, but the line for the meridian itself is actually a few feet east, at least where it’s marked in the pavement at the southwest corner of 24th St and H St NW. I used the pavement mark as my guide and then took its location to get my mark in Crystal City. That’s why I thought (and think) it ran through Mackey’s, rather than Charlie Chiang’s.

    My vote would definitely be for Mackey’s and we can stand outside on/near the meridian after the meal, since it’s unlikely we’d get a table on the line anyway, regardless of the restaurant it’s in. 🙂

    • The more I measure it, the more I think that perhaps the fine folks at GWU placed the line on the sidewalk to avoid the liability: imagine a car hitting a brick monument in the middle of the road; or a squished pedestrian trying to straddle the line to take a photo. Maybe I’m not the only one playing "close enough." – ha!

  3. James D says:

    Interestingly, the Meridian also passes through New Bern, NC, that state’s original capital. But it misses the Tryon Palace (the replica original state house) by about four blocks. This is almost certainly an utter coincidence, but it is quite a fun one.

    But in case that weren’t enough of a geographical oddity, following the meridian north, one passes right through the middle of Washington. Washington, NC, that is. I’m not sure this one is entirely coincidental.

    The other placename that jumped out at me whilst looking along the Meridian was Middleburg, PA. Unfortunately, the name has nothing to do with meridians, but it does have a nice story of two towns merging to form one. Unfortunately they lay one north of the other, so there was no union across the Meridian.

    And I would love to join in the party, but I am afraid I shall have to be there only in spirit. I am sitting typing this in the capital of another country, 73°53’18” East of the American Meridian.

  4. Anon says:

    Fuuunnyyy story.
    I sneaked into that pool (really easy railing: top bar, vertical supports every ~5 ft?) and skinny dipped there with two friends.
    Turns out it’s not a relationship fail because one is my gf. 🙂
    Really late to this threat/party but, hey, it was a fun night.

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