Thursday, August 8, 2013

D.C. Pentagram

One of the things I've enjoyed most about living in D.C. is being able to go on long, semi-planned walks around the city. Partly with destinations in mind, mostly seeing whatever I happen to come across on the way. It's a great form of free entertainment, one that I commissioned on my travels in Bologna and worked to perfect on my visits to Chicago. The District is a haven for this kind of thing, as it is a very walkable city, and thanks to the Smithsonian, has an array of free museums to check out. It is also lush with monuments and little parks that fit effortlessly into the design of the city. Unlike so many European cities that evolved over hundreds of years into a cataclysmic mess of winding streets and narrow alleys (also a few select U.S. cities...looking at you, Boston), city planning in American cities follows an easy to manage grid system. One of the things that makes D.C. unique is that it was designed to be the capital. As such, the city could be planned around the White House, the Capitol, the National Mall, etc. The streets reflect these landmarks - and when it breaks up the monotony of a grid of A St and 1st St, it tends to be a lot more noticeable. Putting away the tinfoil hats, one of the most interesting aspects of the layout of the city to me is the Pentagram. Yes, there are potential Freemason implications, and yes, a lot of the founding fathers were indeed Freemasons, but that's neither here nor there.  Is there an upside down cross? Yeah, but two perpendicular main avenues is not exactly groundbreaking in a country of cities built of grids. The square and compass is much more compelling, but sort of a stretch in my eyes. Still enough fodder for conspiracy theorists. Regardless of the origination, the Pentagram is clearly there, framed by the streets and commemorated at every intersection, however slight.

As part of my endeavors throughout the city, I embarked on a journey to capture all these points.

The main linear avenue is K Street (Letters run East-West, Numbers run North-South in D.C.). Of course at the southern most tip of the Pentagram is the White House (the central point for all three symbols, and some would argue America itself). Branching northwest is Connecticut Ave NW (appropriately) and Vermont Ave NW. 
Editor's Note - the NW denotes the quadrant of the city which the street is in. Simple enough for the diagonal streets, but the alphabetical and numerical streets repeat based on where in the city you are. 12th St NE & H St NE is a different part of the city than 12th St NW & H St NW.

I trust you know this one - Southern Point

These two diagonal avenues end in traffic circles - all 50 states have a street within the confines of the district, and when they cross with the main grid, traffic circles are usually the result. At the northeast point is Logan Circle, and Dupont Circle lies at the Northwest. The directional roads from these circles are Massachusetts Ave NW and Rhode Island Ave NW, marking the western and eastern points of the Pentagram as Washington Circle and Mt Vernon Square, respectively.

Logan Circle - Northeast Point
Dupont Circle - Northwest Point
Washington Circle - Western Point

Mt. Vernon Square - Eastern Point

In addition to the five exterior points, there are also five interior points at the intersections of these main lines, forming a pentagon. No conspiracies here, just geometry. Which is kind of a cult in and of itself. The point due north of the White House is Scott Circle, at the intersections of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. M Street comes into play horizontally, contributing to the clusterfuck of intersections to the west (Rhode Island Ave NW, Connecticut Ave NW, M St NW, and 18th St NW) and east (Massachusetts Ave NW, Vermont Ave NW, M St NW, and 14th St NW). At 14th and M is Thomas Circle, while the 18th and M intersection is much less becoming. It is marked simply with an unassuming statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and marks the end point (or origination) of Rhode Island Ave. Without its inclusion in the Pentagram, it would not be of note at all - probably the biggest counterargument to a preconceived idea of a design in the first place.

Scott Circle - northernmost 
Thomas Circle - East on M St
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - West on M St

The fourth and fifth corners of the pentagon fall on the aforementioned K St that connects Washington Circle in the west to Mt. Vernon Square to the east. At the intersection with Connecticut Ave lies Farragut Square, and McPhereson Square with the intersection of Vermont Ave. These small parks are overshadowed by Franklin Square directly to the east and Lafayette Square to the south. Again, minor counterarguments to the Pentagram design theory. However, these counterpoints are all found within the interior of the existence of the Pentagram at the overlapping points of the streets, not the end points that give the Pentagram its descriptive shape.

Farragut Square - West on K St
McPhereson Square - East on K St
Furthermore, Lafayette Square is so notable because it is almost an extension of the White House property - though open to the public, it was known once upon a time as President's Park. Lafayette Square would also fall more into the wheelhouse of the upside-down cross, together with the Ellipse to the south of the White House and the National Mall directly below, which runs west from the Lincoln Memorial across the Washington Monument to reach the Capitol in the East. 

Oh, and guess what the Capitol is the center of? If you guessed the Square and Compass, you would be correct. The leg of the compass connects the Capitol to the White House via the ever so important Pennsylvania Avenue, with Maryland Avenue jutting the opposite way as the leg towards the Jefferson Memorial. With a bit of imagination, Louisiana Ave and Washington Ave can be extended to meet in the National Mall, forming the "Square" portion within the compass in the traditional Freemason symbol. Louisiana Avenue NE ends at Union Station, a prominent point in the layout of D.C. However, the southern point must be imagined as no real landmark sits at the end, and the most important meeting point, the corner of the square is a fictitious point on the National Mall.

There is no doubt that the Freemason roots in our Founding Fathers had a lot of influence - you only need to look at a dollar bill to confirm that. It seems as though the legends surrounding the city layout are at least somewhat reputable. For instance, Mt. Vernon Square is allegedly an old meeting point of the Freemasons, and from what I've read a lot of symbolism is placed around the direction east. Mt. Vernon Square just so happens to lie as the easternmost point on the Pentagram. As anyone who has seen a dollar bill can attest, the Seeing Eye over the pyramid is also a recurring theme. The fact that four points on the Pentagram are traffic circles may play some sort of role in that, if we're dipping deeper into conspiracy land. It should also be of note that each traffic circle serves as an axis of 4/5 triangles that make up the edges of the Pentagram - look on the outside of the central pentagon. I have already noted that the White House is the central landmark on the southernmost point of the Pentagram - the only "triangle" section that does not have a circle/eye overseeing it. I cannot confirm this, but I have read that the room that falls directly on this point is none other than the Oval Office itself. Try that on for size.

There is plenty of crackpot crazy to go along with these interesting findings as well. Of note: The Washington Monument is connected with the Obelisk in St. Peter's Square, stating the dominance of Freemasons over Religion and Government, and when the G8 becomes the G10, the Freemasons will raise the Antichrist and start their apocalyptic takeover. While I doubt the Freemasons were anything more than a glorified Fraternity/Secret Society, never mind demigods and Satanists, it is entirely plausible that the symbolism etched into the District's streets and monuments is a small homage the Freemasons paid to themselves in the design of the city. I was not quite prepared for the rabbit hole of conspiracy theorists when I embarked, but I nevertheless enjoyed strutting about and visiting all these spots myself.


  1. This is so cool. A testament to how much of a thinker you are -- that must have been a lot to write about. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I would love to hear your architectural take on this! Even with so many streets designed to cross-cut the city diagonally, this has to be an intentional design, right?