Every place has a story: Franklin Park and Franklin Square

Ana Junco

College Writing

Professor Hoskins

14 December 2016

Every place has a story: Franklin Park and Franklin Square

Many places can have a big background story that you would never have thought when you visit it. Franklin Square is located on downtown Washington D.C. It’s a square named after the United States former president Benjamin Franklin. The square has been bounded by fourteenth Street NW on the west, first Street NW on the south, thirteenth street NW to the North, and K street NW to the north. It’s served and serviced by the Washington Metro Square Station which has been located southwest of the square. The park has a sloped upward and has been partly terraced from K street to 1 Street. It is featured with many benches, grass and large trees. There is also a dedication in the form of a statue of Commodore Barry John on the east section of the park (“Welcome To One Franklin Square’s Tenant® Portal”)

Franklin Park is located in the center of downtown Washington D.C it has a total area of 5.12 acres in possession of the United States National Park Service. It’s bordered by the Thirteenth Street NW to the North, forteen streets NW on the west, first Street NW on the south and K Street NW to the North. The parking space is available for commercial purposes, the park accommodates and host family special events yearly such as holiday events (Pollard 46-46).

Franklin Square has originally been the location of some natural springs according to the Preservation League of Washington D.C. The plan for the square was presented in 1791 and didn’t include the Franklin Park for a particular reason until 1833 when the state purchased the square and reformed it into Franklin Park. It is often assumed it was named after Benjamin Franklin, but there hasn’t been substantial proof for the claims. Until the 1870s, the park the state  hadn’t work to improve the park. They added paths, benches, and landscapes at this time and in the early 1880s. The US public Work Administration issued seventy-five thousand dollars to the city to facilitate the square’s last main renovations in 1935. However, after the renovations were complete, the city didn’t maintain the park till date except for the refurbishment of the square, paths, in 1976. The 4.97 acres of the Franklin Square has been managed by the United States National Park Service. In the year 2013, significant repairs were required on the pathways and the Plaza ( Pollard 46-46). The state proposed to reengineer and redesign the square to accommodate a variety of sport and recreational activities. The request for proposal required a different design to provide flexible food kiosks, seating area, and an improved landscape. They were offered $280,000 to implement the design and engineering works (“Welcome To One Franklin Square’s Tenant® Portal”)

Franklin Park is an urban and historical park with approximately 5 acres located in Downtown Washington D.C. The park is located on a commercial hub with an increasing residential population and a flourishing commercial district. It’s owned and serviced by the United State National Park Service and has been in need of redesign to update and improve the park to serve the city. Moreover, the park’s location and size present an opportunity  to impact the local economy and community by utilizing the green space. The National Park Service has been encouraging and supporting efforts to renew the park as part of the coming up with ways to partner with the community and achieve the urban agenda. In 2012, the District government, the National Park Service, and the DC Business Improvement District formed a partnership to renovate the place and establish operations and maintenance of the park in eternity. The outcome of the planning, which incorporated stakeholder input and public outreach, is a design concept and operation and maintenance plan for the Franklin Park. In August 2015, the partnership group completed an assessment of the park plan and vision. The National Park Service determined that the project won’t result in the main environmental impacts based on public comments and the EA analysis. The release a finding and recommendation of no impact for a preferred alternative design.

Franklin Square as an urban park goal is to provide and maintain passive and active essential  services and recreational opportunities these services include flexible areas, food, and restrooms. They also have actively supervised evening and daytime programs and events. The vision is to respect and celebrate the historical and present sense of belonging and character through quality sites, seasonal plantings, restored historical resources and building materials. The squares has been designed as an ecological, sustainable, and maintainable are to serve the diverse users in the city. The groups include visitors, workers, and the district residents. The square should be outlined by public, streetscape and transportation modes to suit the need of all users. The square also should maximize on private and public structures to maintain, program, fund, and provide access and security to the area (Mercer 174-196).

Franklin Park vision is to transform the area into a historical, sustainable, and flexible park linked to its surrounding community. It strives to enhance urban living in Downtown D.C and serve the community. Also, they want to transform the park to become the state’s leading city park  based on national models lessons including the Union Square Park and the Madison Park. To apprehend the transformation, an improvement and programming approach together with a design process in necessary to achieve the vision of a great park. Franklin Park goal includes developing an ecological, sustainable and maintainable area to serve the diverse user in the city to include visitors, workers, and the district residents.

Franklin Square has been a bustling and active area in Washington D.C. the state government purchased the area to protect a natural spring supplying fresh water to the residence in the White House. Later it was included in the Colombian District public reservation where it was made a landscape of fountains, trees and winding paths. The square was reengineered and redesigned in 1936 as an initiative part of the Public Work Administration and National Park Service. Currently, the square retains the past designs with walkways, a fountain and a statue of a revolution hero which was placed in 1914 on the west side. Adolph created the Franklin school which is one of the famous building surround the square. The school was the most advanced and best designed in modern architecture around the world. In the school, scientist Alexander Graham Bell developed the only wireless message and transmitted across the park. In 1951, the square became a part of another scientific discovery by Charles Townes who conceived the master’s principle. He received a Nobel Prize for the invention of the laser. Many of the significant sites that had been surrounding the park have recently been transformed into offices and residential building. A good example includes the Hodgson house who was the little Ford author, the lived at an adjacent street to the square which is currently the capitol garage. Another example is the Franklin Square 130 Street NW, which is direct west of the plaza, has been converted to the Washington post in the year 2015. The few remaining historic buildings surrounding the square include Alma’s temple and the Franklin School.

We can see a bigger map on how the area is and all the different locations near Franklin Park

We can see a bigger map on how the area is and all the different locations near Franklin Park

Franklin Park has been providing public service continuously since the 1840’s. It has undergone major redesigning and reengineering in the 1860’s and 1870’s  and 1930’s . Recently it has been neglected with disrepair and has become a place for the homeless and a place lunch by office workers. The pathways in between the park have cracks and are hazardous to the general republic. The path have been crisscrossed by the trails and grass with rocks and mud. It lacks safe public amenities like restrooms, and it no longer holds programs or events during the daytime or the evening. For the revitalization of the park, it requires a capital space initiative. The initiative is among the National Park service, National Capital Planning Commision, D.C Recreation Department, and the D.C office of planning to address and incorporate the Franklin Park in the center city plans agenda. The program creates a plan and advances the goals for addressing open spaces and park needs in the city. The park has been listed as one of the major spaces that require reinvestment on by the stakeholders. The D.C strategy for the urban parks incorporates five strategies that include coming up with new  park and redesigning the existing ones, addressing activation, management, and funding (“Can ‘Derelict’ Franklin Square Park Revive? D.C. And The Park Service Have A Plan | WAMU”).

How the park used to be, happy and healthy.

How the park used to be, happy and healthy.

How the park is know days. It needs maintenance.

How the park is now days. It needs maintenance.

The Franklin Square has a negative image due to the increased crime taking place at the park. The decline of the park has mainly been associated with the increase in the violent crimes. The cause of the crimes has been related to the riots in the black communities. Police officers were deployed to the park to maintain peace and order, and it lead to fear of going to the park or being associated with the programs and events. The park became a central area for alcohol, prostitutes and drugs. The park later became a neglected place by the city officials leading to homeless people seeking shelter on the grounds. Maintenance was rarely performed leading to walkways having cracks and falling apart thus people formed paths through the grass resulting to rocks and mud within the park and its environs.

Like every other office building areas, lunch hour is busy time. Many places to eat near One Franklin Square even food trucks come during the day. People don’t even use the park to eat their food or have picnic they just used it as a shortcut to get from one place to the other. This park could make a difference in this area if the remodeling plan of NPS and BID has a positive outcome. At night this zone changes completely, because there are no more busy office workers, but instead restaurants with many tourist and nightclubs life takes over. It’s impressive how to location across each other are so different but still share the same population.

The Franklin Square has maintained a great historical view and created a good reputation to date by re-engineering and redesigning the square to accommodate a variety of sports and recreational activities. The square has managed to accommodate flexible food kiosks, seating areas, and an improved landscape. Contrary, the Franklin Park still has room for improvement; this can get achieved by the D.C strategy to implement the five strategies that include coming up with new parks and redesigning the existing ones, addressing activation, management, and funding (“Franklin Square”). Going to my site and researching about it made me realize many things specially how is true as Sarah B. Schindler mention in “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment” that we rarely notice every detail of the architecture of our environment, many things are made for a reason not always for decoration. As Sarah mention the armrests of a bench on a park are there to avoid people from taking naps, especially homeless, but many people would have thought it was there to separate the seats. Everything has is made for a reason you might not know it there is a big meaning to everything.


In this video we can see how people just go to the park to eat and how the park is not maintained.

Works Cited

“Can ‘Derelict’ Franklin Square Park Revive? D.C. And The Park Service Have A Plan | WAMU”. WAMU. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

“Franklin Square”. Nps.gov. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Mercer, Jean. “The Concept Of Psychological Regression: Metaphors, Mapping, Queen Square, And Tavistock Square.”. History of Psychology 14.2 (2011): 174-196. Web.

Pollard, J. “History: The Eccentric Engineer”. Engineering & Technology 2.9 (2007): 46-46. Web.

“Welcome To One Franklin Square’s Tenant® Portal”. Onefranklinsquare.com. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” N.p., 2015. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.