River Horse (sculpture)
|The River Horse|
|Location||Washington, D.C., United States|
|Owner||George Washington University|
The River Horse is a bronze sculpture of a hippopotamus located on the campus of George Washington University. It is in front of Lisner Auditorium, at 21st Street and H Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C., in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.
In 1996, George Washington University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg presented this bronze statue as a gift to the University's Class of 2000. The hippo stands with its mouth wide. Its nose is slightly worn due to passerby rubbing it. A plaque is placed on the base:
- Legend has it that the Potomac was once home to these wondrous beasts.
- George & Martha Washington are even said to have watched them cavort in
- the river shallows from the porch of their beloved Mount Vernon on summer evenings.
- Credited with enhancing the fertility of the plantation, the Washingtons believed
- the hippopatamus brought them good luck & children on the estate often attempted
- to lure the creatures close enough to the shore to touch a nose for good luck.
- So, too, may generations of students of the George Washington University.
- Art for wisdom,
- Science for joy,
- Politics for beauty,
- And a Hippo for hope.
- The George Washington University Class of 2000
- August 28, 1996
The hippopotamus is not native to North America. President Trachtenberg admitted he invented the story. He said that, for fun, he made up a story that George Washington watched hippos swim in the Potomac River. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trachtenberg-reveals-truth-behind-hippo http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Petition-Seeks-to-Change-GW-Colonials-to-the-GW-Hippos-481773571.html
- "Order of the Hippo’s not-so-secret secrets unveiled", GW Hatchet, Cindy J. Roth, 2/8/01
- J. Goode, Washington Sculpture, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-8018-8810-7, A cultural history of outdoor sculpture in the Nation's capital, discussing the River Horse.
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