Hains Point: The End of The Awakening

Washington Travel Blog

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The Awakening

Washington, DC, has many outdoor statues and sculptures atop memorials and in public spaces. But, there has been nothing quite like The Awakening, an aluminum scupture depicting a giant struggling to emerge out of the very Earth. The sculpture by J. Seward Johnson, an array of five separate pieces, or body parts (head, a hand, an arm, a leg, and a foot), was installed at the tip of Hains Point in East Potomac Park in 1980 as part of a sculpture exhibition. The sculpture was to be only on temporary display, but instead remained in place. It was never formally acquired by the National Park Service. (Sculpture permanently installed on National Park Service land has to be commemorative in nature.) Last year, the sculpture was sold to the developer of Washington Harbor, a private commercial and conference complex under construction in Maryland.

Overview of the sculpture
Last Thursday, an article in the Washington Post announced that The Awakening would be dug up and moved to Maryland within a week. So, that meant to see it and photograph it before the move required a weekend trip to Hains Point!

Saturday was sunny, but we had plans. Sunday was overcast and dreary, but this was to be the day! I drove the 18 miles (30 km) from Springfield to Washington along I-395 and exited at the first exit across the 14th Street Bridge. This exit leads directly to East Potomac Park, a peninsula laying between the Potomac River and Washington Channel. East Potomac Park is probably little known to visitors to Washington, But, it's popular with area residents. Ohio Drive runs along the perimiter of the peninsula.

Top-down view
Joggers, cyclists, and skaters compete with cars along the drive. There is also a pedestrian path along the waterside. A golf course, a miniature golf course, and an indoor tennis facility offer recreation opportunities at the upper end of the park. The tip of the East Potomac Park is known as Hains Point. A picnic area and a playground complement the open spaces and walks found here. In a large open space is The Awakening.

As might be expected, the news about the impending move of the popular sculpture had brought out a large number of people for one last look. (But even on a day like this finding parking was not a problem.) Indeed, as I arrived upon the scene, a sort of impromptu street festival was in progress. People of all ages had gathered to take pictures. Children and teens were climbing all over the statue, sitting in its mouth, and posing for photos. A procession of cars wound around Ohio Drive. Joggers paused for a look. People out to walk their dogs came over. I stayed for a while to examine the statue and took my photos as well.

Soon the friendly giant will have moved on. It will be lonely at Hains Point.

aswold says:
I would like to have seen this sculpture:(
Posted on: Dec 31, 2008
ubirds says:
Great photos, great info, thanks
Posted on: Feb 21, 2008
reikunboy says:
what a cool piece of art you must be disapointed that it's moving do you have any pics from the sculpture exhibition in 1980
Posted on: Feb 19, 2008
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The Awakening
The Awakening
Overview of the sculpture
Overview of the sculpture
Top-down view
Top-down view
The Head
The Head
Considering the arm
Considering the arm
The Arm and the Head
The Arm and the Head
How does this grab you?
How does this grab you?
Climbing the leg
Climbing the leg
At the foot of the sculpture
At the foot of the sculpture
The Awakening
The Awakening
Birds-eye view
Bird's-eye view
Whats all the fuss?
What's all the fuss?
Hains Point
Hains Point
Regan Washington National Airport …
Regan Washington National Airport…
Approaching DCA. The Pentagon and …
Approaching DCA. The Pentagon and…
Fishing in Washington Channel
Fishing in Washington Channel
Fort McNair
Fort McNair
Tour boats in Washington Channel
Tour boats in Washington Channel
Washington Marina
Washington Marina
Washington
photo by: b93sp