Best Vista You’ll Never See

“The Point”
High brick walls have long secreted the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the 150-year-old institution for the city’s mentally ill, and they also obscure one of the most geographically serendipitous spots in the District of Columbia. Called “The Point,” it’s an outcropping high above the Anacostia River on the northern tip of the St. E’s campus. Beneath, wildlife frolics and the whole city unfolds. But few city residents have been treated to the vista’s splendor, having been long secured inside what remains a working mental hospital. (Indeed, this writer hasn’t seen the spot since 2000, when he visited an urban gardening project inside the walls.) Hope for public access looked up when the federal government chose to locate Department of Homeland Security headquarters on the premises; as part of a greater development, the Point and other recreational amenities would be opened. Alas, as the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott reported in September, that plan is very much in doubt, as the security needs of Fortress Washington take precedence over one sublime overlook. “The most reasonable view of the plan for St. E’s,” he wrote, “is a mix of resignation, sadness, skepticism and anger.”