A long time ago GM ran an occasional series called “Why Not?” in which he’d make some wild eyed proposal for Georgetown (e.g. “Why Not Build a Ferry to Roosevelt Island?“, or the prescient “Why Not Build a Waterfront Ice Rink?“). It’s been a while, and maybe that means GM is out of ideas, good or bad.
But today he is dusting off the series: Why not rename Rose Park “Herring Hill Park”?
Herring Hill is the name given to the historically African-American community that was centered south of P St. and east of 29th St. Legend has it that the name came from the practice of the community members to eat herring out of Rock Creek.
In other words: Rose Park is Herring Hill.
The park itself featured prominently within the African American history of Georgetown. It was set aside in 1918 to provide recreation for Black children. But it was soon used by both White and Black children. (In fact, after a half-hearted attempt at segregation, the park was officially recognized as the first integrated parks in DC.) Throughout the 20th century, the park was at the center of the Herring Hill community activities.
According to Black Georgetown Remembered, before being named Rose Park, the park was variously known as Patterson’s Park, Jacob’s Park, or Winship’s Lot. To be fair, the park was called Rose Park for most of the 20th century, and that makes a strong case for not changing the name.
But there’s really no trace of the Herring Hill name in the neighborhood anymore. Perhaps renaming the whole park would be too much, but why not rename of part of the park after Herring Hill? The Herring Hill Playground has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?