Moving Day For "The Awakening"

By Anita Huslin

After resting in place for nearly 30 years -- if that can be said of a figure that eternally struggles to climb from the earth -- the cast aluminum sculpture known as "The Awakening" left its home Wednesday from the southernmost tip of Washington's Hains Point.

Workers begin to excavate The Awakening.

With the assistance of three trucks, three cranes, one barge and a pair of small front-end loaders, the iconic sculpture was removed from its spot on national parkland in the District to be taken to a white sand beach on the eastern shore of the Potomac River.

The District's loss will be the gain of Prince George's County, where the sculpture now becomes the property of Milton Peterson, who plans to display it at his new National Harbor development. Peterson bought the large figure last year from the Sculpture Foundation, which has held it at the behest of its creator, J. Seward Johnson.

Over the years, Johnson has said in interviews that he was surprised his creation so captivated a city that had largely thought of public sculpture as soldiers on horses, or bronze statesmen in suit coats.

He offered no further explanation for his work, and let the public project its own stories on the figure. It arrived in the spring of 1980, one of more than 88 sculptures invited to the nation's capital for The Eleventh International Sculpture Conference. They adorned Rock Creek Park, the back lawn of the White House, even the entrance of the Forrestal Building on Independence Avenue NW.

At night, one artist lit the skies over Washington with a laser painting of the pyramid that adorns U.S. dollar bills; the image of the mysterious eye cast onto the side of the Washington Monument.

Other pieces included such oddities as a squashed suburban house, with its perfectly mowed lawn flattened out in front of it. Another stood like a steaming vat of primordial mist on the lawn of the Botanic Garden.

People stopped and wondered, pondered what the artists were thinking. Amid the sometimes inscrutable creations, The Awakening laid at Hains Point like an upended turtle, beckoning children and adults alike to stand and stare, sit in his upturned palm, try to scale his knee as it pointed skyward, and climb into his gaping maw, the giant's teeth somehow more welcoming than threatening, perhaps because of their perfect alignment.

On Tuesday, work crews arrived at the site to dig through a foot of wood chips and several inches of soil to get to the steel I-beams that anchored each of the five aluminum pieces of sculpture. Using large 13/16 wrenches, they loosened each bolt by hand, to make sure they could be removed in the frigid temperatures Wednesday morning, when crews returned for the move.

The first crews arrived before 4 a.m., to begin detaching the five body parts from their steel anchors. The heaviest -- the knee -- weighs about 1,400 pounds, while the giant's right arm, which claws upward toward the sky, weighs slightly less. The hand and arm weigh the least -- at about 600 pounds each, while the head is about 1,000 pounds, construction officials said.

For each, the removal process was the same. First, Kevlar belts were stretched around the pieces to lift then out of the ground and on top of bales of hale cushioned by inflated inner tubes. They there were hoisted by crane onto the back of a flatbed truck.

"They said there's another foot buried somewhere here," joked Gene Covell, who is overseeing the work for K.W. Miller. One could imagine the missing appendage was still buried under the giant's upturned left knee.

"Right, the mysterious foot," said Bob Johnson, whose cranes lifted the pieces onto the trucks.

The crews have worked for the Peterson Companies on various projects before. Though the founder, Milt Peterson, has been known to climb on a piece of construction equipment himself to show crews what he wants, this project is probably the most unusual he's ever had them done, said Covell.

"He has a lot of ideas that people say are crazy, but we get along great because I get it," Covell said.

After they removed the sculpture pieces from the site, trucks transported them in a convoy with police escort to National Harbor, near Oxon Hill. There, the trucks drove down to a pier, where a crane offloaded the pieces onto a barge. Later Wednesday, the barge will then be pushed downriver a short distance, to the sculpture's new shorefront home.

There, each of the sculpture pieces will be re-bolted onto concrete footings sunken into the white sand, which was delivered by about 52 trucks, each one carrying about 20 tons of sand.

The sculpture will be the centerpiece of National Harbor, the largest non-casino, mixed-used development on the Eastern seaboard. In April, Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Company will open its newest hotel and convention center. The Gaylord National will help anchor a development that will also feature stores, offices, restaurants and entertainment venues in the National Harbor portion of the project.

Visitors will be able to sit at water-view restaurant tables and watch the sun set behind The Awakening on the Potomac.

"It's going to look great there," said Keith Payne, a member of the Miller crew. "Better even than it did on Hains Point. It's going to make that place a destination."

Its creator, J. Seward Johnson, is expected to come to National Harbor for the grand opening this spring.

"I hate to see it move but I'm glad to see that it'll still be in the Washington area," said David M. Furchgott, who was director of the 1980 sculpture conference and is now president of International Arts and Artists. "It's a work that will hold its own wherever it is. And if you think about it -- sculpture is something that's a community marker in many place -- and this will certainly continue to be that."

By Dan Beyers  |  February 20, 2008; 12:10 PM ET  | Category:  Hospitality
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I couldn't be more disappointed to see it go! I loved this sculpture and now Haines Point will definitely be missing a large part of it's character.

Posted by: iandc | February 20, 2008 2:59 PM

It's kind of sad. I have grown up almost my entire life in the DC area, and that is one of the monuments that is stapled in DC natives mind.

Posted by: Shevonne | February 20, 2008 3:00 PM

The beauty of the sculpture was that it was in the middle of nowhere. Unsuspecting drivers or tourists cruising Hains Point would be amazed to see it and wonder why it wasn't better advertised. I'm sorry to see it go. Perhaps it'll be located in such a spot that people can see it from the Virginia side of the river and wonder what the heck is that.

Posted by: mart | February 20, 2008 3:18 PM

"The sculpture now become"? "Peterson bought large figure"?

Did anyone copy-edit this story?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 3:18 PM

I am sad to see it leave DC. This is one of the first things I show out of town visitors.

Posted by: Chad | February 20, 2008 3:22 PM

It takes a very certain level of arrogance to find a piece of public art beloved by a community, purchase it without input, and ship it away to a glorified shopping mall.

If a man like Milton Peterson were capable of feeling shame, he would be mightily embarrassed by his callowness and greed. Alas, that's obviously not the case.

Posted by: Drew | February 20, 2008 3:27 PM

I agree with Drew

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 3:36 PM

OMG! i can't believe it's gone!! :(

Posted by: nall92 | February 20, 2008 3:39 PM

I too have been a native of DC, and sometimes change is hard to swallow, but PG County could use some uplifting also.

This is probably a good and welcome change to PG County.

Posted by: cea1959 | February 20, 2008 3:50 PM

I used to play sculpture when I was a kid and I now take my nieces and nephews there to play. Sad to see it go! It brings back such great memories when I run past it on a warm summer day.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 3:50 PM

Freakin Tragic!

Posted by: Andre | February 20, 2008 3:52 PM

I can't believe the National Capital Parks or the D.C. Arts Commission or even those of us who live in this lovely city let "The Awakening" go. Now there's little or no reason to go to Haines Point except to watch planes take off and land from National. What a loss.

Posted by: d.c. confidential | February 20, 2008 3:52 PM

I must agree with Drew as well. I woke up early Monday morning and drove down to Haines Point just to take pictures. Even at that early hour families were out there with their small children taking one last climb. I did take my pictures with tears in my eyes so I hope they turn out well.

Posted by: Falls Church, VA | February 20, 2008 3:54 PM

What is the deal with people saying this thing is "gone?" It's only moving 4 freaking miles down the river. If you brought out of town visitors to Haines Point you can go to National Harbor too. It'd be one thing if it was being destroyed or moved 1000 miles away. But 4 miles downstream. Wow, people, wow. Get over yourselves!

Posted by: Roberto | February 20, 2008 3:55 PM

Responding to Drew's comment.
On the contrary Drew; Milt Peterson has guarded the Awakening & preserved its legacy to remain in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, rather than having another out of area developer dig it away from our eye-sight!! This is not called arrogance, yet compassion!!I'm certain we'll get to enjoy it as much if not a bit more. See you there!!

Posted by: Rana | February 20, 2008 4:01 PM

I think a huge part of the appeal of "The Awakening" is what it looks like from the air. You really have to be at least a couple hundred feet above it to get the full effect. I always looked for it when flying in or out of National Airport and I always assumed that its placement at Hains Point was to benefit plane passengers overhead. I haven't seen a single word written about whether the new location will be visible from the National flightpath. Did the new owner even consider this?

Posted by: David | February 20, 2008 4:02 PM

I'm with Rana. I'm glad that is stayed in the DC area. We almost lost it. As I understand it, Nat'l Park Service has been trying to get rid of it; it was never meant to stay there this long.

I also liked to go down there and look at it. I've also seen it from the river and it is indeed startling to see. It should still be a sight from the river.

Posted by: Historian | February 20, 2008 4:08 PM

I know the Awakening will be only a short distance away but I still feel sad that it has been removed from Haines Point. I hope another artist will sculpture something even more fascinating that the Awakening for the same spot in Haines Point. I also hope the Awakening don't get vandalized down there in those PG subrubs. Wouldn't that be a darn shame?

Posted by: LL817 | February 20, 2008 4:19 PM

I am in agreement with Drew. The nerve and audacity of a scumbag developer to remove a piece of art from public land to glorify his foul little development is yet another disgrace we are forced to put up with in the pursuit of corporate greed.

I hope no one buys at or visits that foul little development of his.

Posted by: Gil Batzri | February 20, 2008 4:22 PM


Posted by: crazydude | February 20, 2008 4:22 PM

I agree with Drew. I'm very sad to see it go. It was one of my favorite spots in DC and I too would watch for it when flying out of National.

And for those who say it's now only 4 miles down the river...That's not the same as 4 miles down the road. That is not going to be an easy drive with traffic - especially if you're coming from the VA side.

Posted by: FfxGal | February 20, 2008 4:27 PM

Folks, for those of you that express "concern," "disgust," "shock" or any other litany of feelings about this, you need to understand that this was about money. J. Seward Johnson has said (as noted in previous news articles about this move) that the statue has always up for sale.

That being said, Mr. Peterson obviously felt that he was doing in the best interest of the statue, his company, the people, etc. by buying it and moving it. It is his money. The statue did not belong to the government, the District or any public entity. He had no legal right or force to ask for public comment or garner their concerns.

However, you do have a right to let him know how you feel. Email, letters, don't shop at his "mall," and don't give Mr. Peterson your support. You DO have a right to voice your opinion in an appropriate manner.

Yes, it's sad that the stature is going/gone even if it's still in the DC area. A landmark of sorts, it brought character and something unique to that stitch of land that is Hains Point.

Put some of that energy that you are showing here into finding something new, better, and more intriguing to fill the gaping hole that Mr. Peterson and Mr. Johnson left for us to, um, enjoy.

Posted by: Steve | February 20, 2008 4:33 PM

The Awakening was part of Hains Point,just like the Lady Bird Fountain. The Awakening belonged right where it was. To move it to National Harbor is taking it from all the tourists that come to the DC area. National Harbor will not be free and open to the public. I grew up running through the woods that were taken down there, that will never be what it was, and neither will Hains Point without that sculpture, it was magnificent from day 1.

Posted by: Bea Porter | February 20, 2008 4:40 PM

Agreed on the lack of copy-editing. "[T]his project is probably the most unusual he's ever had them done."

Posted by: uf | February 20, 2008 4:43 PM

From the day they installed the sculpture, they said it was temporary. Over the years, I was always surprised that it was still there. It's reassuring that it finally has a permanent home that is very close.
Hains Point has always been a draw for people and will continue to do so.
Growing up here, I remember my elders recalling it as a popular spot to watch 'submarine races'. That was long before the Awakening made its debut. A lot of people have different and fond memories of that park over the years and this sculpture will be one of them.

Posted by: A | February 20, 2008 4:45 PM

Real Quickly...The sculpture was on sale for many years. So assume Milt Peterson (the guy you say is arrogant and a scumbag) didn't buy the sculpture. It would have stayed at Haines point for maybe a year more and then a developer from say Dudai or another foreign country would buy it. Then the sculpture wouldn't even be in this country. And as far as hoping that nobody goes to this new little development; news flash for you is that it's not little and it's going to be the new hotspot of the potomac with the best restaurants, shops and hotels from around the world. You will probably even go there yourself. It's a shame that when arguing a point, people don'realize the facts that he (peterson) in fact saved the sculpture. Also, he (peterson) is building a city that will attract many more visitors to the scupture. Lastly, he (peterson, is building a city that is already creating thousands of jobs. I would like to hear you counter this argument.

Posted by: DCguy12 | February 20, 2008 4:49 PM

I think they must have found out the statue was a black man and decided to gentrify him :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 4:53 PM

check your facts...National Harbor Will be free. There are public roads that lead there. Public hotels to stay at. Public shops to shop at. Public restaurants to dine at. Oh, and public park land to view The Awakening.

Posted by: DCguy12 | February 20, 2008 4:53 PM

I still agree with Drew

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 4:56 PM

defend your argument. If you don't, then you have none and you are wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 4:58 PM

Sadly, just another example of D.C. relinquishing something of tremendous sentimental, monetary, and touristic value to another state (WASHINGTON Redskins anyone???). D.C. had every reason to retain this beautiful piece of history, but just couldn't manage it.

Posted by: krasnomi | February 20, 2008 5:16 PM

Count me as one who like the relative seclusion of "The Awakening." Like architectural focal points it created a little contemplative destination at the end of Hains Point to be enjoyed with sense of isolation surrounded on three sides by water. National Harbor will be different, maybe more like a a busy city square with more foot traffic. Better? Worse? Who knows. But different. It fit at Hains Point, we'll find out how it works at NH soon enough.

Posted by: jhtlag | February 20, 2008 5:26 PM

I looked at the picture of the men digging out the foot and wondered if the toes were going to start wiggling and if he was going to get up and start running.

Poor guy's been buried in the sand all these years - he needed a stretch - too bad he couldn't escape Washington. But then I guess he symbolizes those who feel that way.

Hmmm! Maybe he is Gulliver and Haine's Point was his burial site, and he has been trying to come to life - attempting to see the world once more.

Perhaps his perch in PG will give him a glimpse of the real world, not the view of the haughty he has had for the past twenty eight years.

I'm going to miss the big guy - really do wish he would have stayed.

Posted by: Bonnie | February 20, 2008 5:26 PM

I've run the last four Marine Corps Marathon. All of my daily runs I schedule to run Hains Point just to see the tourist at the Awakening. Running Hains Point and entering Hainspoint during the MCM will never be the same..... It will truly be missed by all....

Posted by: MCM 26.2 | February 20, 2008 5:40 PM

We are so sorry to see this wonderful piece of art leave the District, it has been an absolute joy to visit for nearly 20 years for us. But we are also glad that it still will not be very far away, so we can still visit.

Posted by: Cynthia and Kyle | February 20, 2008 5:47 PM

I've run the Marine Corp Marathon 12 times and that scupture was always what got me through Haines Point. I can't beleive they are taking it away. What a shame. Can we petition or something to get it back or is it a lost cause

Posted by: bgalla22 | February 20, 2008 5:51 PM

National Harbor is DIRECTLY on the flight path to Reagan National - so YES, thousands of people a day landing at the airport will be able to see it! Just look to the right when the plane lands. Also, let's clarify - National Harbor is NOT a glorified shopping mall! It's much more. It's a vibrant community where people will actually live, shop, dine and play. Add in the hundreds of thousands of visitor's annually, and you realize it actually is a very fitting place for the Awakening. Now MANY more people will be able to view and enjoy it...not just the "few" people who happened to stumble upon it at Hain's Point. The statue could have easily ended up in Dubai or Japan, so quit your whining! Mr. Peterson saved it from leaving the region.

Posted by: slipper | February 20, 2008 6:03 PM

no petition. the sculpture is and always was PRIVATELY owned. Also, if you have run the marine corp marathon you can run the extra 4 miles to see the awakening. you people are rididulous. This is a PRIVATE PIECE OF ART. You should all be thankful that you had so long with it. The owner could have put it in his back yard 26 years ago if he wanted.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2008 6:09 PM

I'm sad to see it go. One the one hand, it might be nice to have less chance for congestion down at Haines Point when I'm doing loops on my bicycle there, but I always enjoyed seeing it there. There's really nothing about National Harbor that will draw me over there. PG County, blah.

Posted by: PersonL | February 20, 2008 6:11 PM

National Harbor, a vibrant place. Thanks for giving me my biggest laugh of the day. HAHAHA!!!

Posted by: PersonL | February 20, 2008 6:12 PM

Are they going to sell the Jefferson Memorial next??

This is outrageous, to let a private collector move public art into his commercial space in another state. I'm ashamed that DC let this happen.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 20, 2008 6:42 PM

Tempest in a Teapot!!!! A true kerfuffle.

Posted by: Groucho | February 20, 2008 6:46 PM

too bad to see it go, i think i played on it once

Posted by: tinytony | February 20, 2008 7:41 PM

an even more vibrant place:
The Scenic Trenton, NJ

Posted by: tinytony | February 20, 2008 7:42 PM

I didn't know that the Awakening was for sale or that the artist had not been paid for it. I considered it a dear part of my city.

I visited that statue the day before my daughter was born and took my children out to it regularly. It was a lovely surprise to show visitors to DC.

I didn't know that it didn't belong to the National Park Service or that it could be lost. I'm heartbroken.

Had we known that it was for sale or could be lost, we would have campaigned to raise funds to keep it.

I'm very sad.

Posted by: Annemarie Senol | February 20, 2008 7:59 PM

You guys all don't get it!
This piece of art was privately owned. It has been for sale for decades. Apparently DC chose not to buy it. If you want to be angry with anyone, be angry with DC. If Mr. Peterson had not purchased it, it surely would have been purchased and sent out of the country. Instead, Mr. Peterson is the savior. It will be just a few miles away - in a beautiful, wonderful, place that will attract tourists. (Don't knock National Harbor until you see it when it opens. It is going to be the best thing yet on the Eastern Seaboard!)
We will be able to continue to enjoy The Awakening for a long,long time.
Again, if you wanted it to stay at Hains Point, talk to the DC government. They didn't want to buy it!

Posted by: Patti | February 20, 2008 8:02 PM

Interesting comments...Not so much the sadness, that is no surprise, felt by all I'm sure.
What interested me the most is that no one posed the question as to what might replace this loss...
There is no reason that another competition might take place and that another creative, half mad, genius might conceive (give birth to) another giant, equally imaginative and appropriate, to amuse us.
There is no reason that Haines Point shouldn't become home to many more wonderful peices of public art.
Which reminds me to ask, what other "public" art might turn up at auction? Einstein?

Posted by: Geo Ripley | February 20, 2008 8:30 PM

This "hidden" spot of D.C. has been changed forever. The Great Awakening was one of the consistent(in an inconsistent d.c.) places I introduced my friends and family too. It is sad to think of how the new commercialized location doesn't fit at all with the statue.

Posted by: b | February 20, 2008 9:02 PM

Where will they put it after National Harbor fails? National Harbor is doomed to fail because it is in pg county. It is going to become another "blvd."

Patti doesn't "get it" either. Hains Point is not owned by dc. It is federal parkland.

Posted by: Michael1945 | February 20, 2008 9:05 PM

Well, the feds didn't buy it either.
Wait til you visit N.H.
You will change your mind!

Posted by: Patti | February 20, 2008 9:12 PM

Neat. Can't wait until they start selling miniature The Awakening sculptures/snow globes/refrigerator magnets in the National Harbor gift shop.

Posted by: bkeever | February 20, 2008 10:35 PM

"Vandalized in those PG county suburbs" says LL817. Have you read anything about this development. Its going to make a lovely addition to some land that has been sitting vacant since the mid 1980"s Thank god for Mr. Peterson to see the vision that this land holds. It will be missed from Hanies Point. But Haines Point has seen its share of issues over the years. Its cleaned up a bit now but back in the day it was not a safe place to be. The sculpture has held up just fine between that and the many times its been under water. Lets not forget D.C. is built on swamp land....

Posted by: tbk | February 20, 2008 10:56 PM

The Awakening was the best kept secret of DC!! It was so much fun to climb on him and take pictures from many different angles and be secluded from the hustle and bustle of DC while enjoying a monstrous work of art! I am sad to see him go but glad I had the chance to have him in DC.

I will miss him at Haines Point which is just a bike ride away. I read about them moving it a year ago and it was too late to do anything about it then because he had already been sold.

I went to see him Tuesday night and he looked peaceful under the full moon. I hope he likes his new home, but I'm afraid that crossing the river to go see him at the new Harbor Project is going to be a hassle. Really though, couldn't they have just cast another statue?

Posted by: sadindc | February 20, 2008 11:38 PM

List of places that blow in this region:

1. Baltimore

2. P.G. County

3. D.C.

So it could've been worse - first would've been worst, and third already flipped us he bird. So second is what beckoned. Word.

Posted by: andrew | February 20, 2008 11:44 PM

Even though I understand the unhappy feelings associated with the move of "The Awakening," I agree with Patti. Mr. Peterson has rescued the sculpture. We will still be able to enjoy this clever piece of artwork locally. It will probably take on a new meaning, but why do you assume it to be negative? PG county is still in our great nation and we owe it to them and ourselves to give it a chance at National Harbor. I am looking forward to visiting National Harbor!

Posted by: Debbie | February 21, 2008 6:01 AM

I don't understand how he "rescued" anything ... the smart thing would have been to gift the statue to the federal govt or the District and it would have happily lived right where it was. Suddenly there's all this interest from Dubai wanting a statue that's been buried in the dirt for 30 years? Was/is there some interest in it other than Mr. Peterson that's not been reported?

Posted by: Steve | February 21, 2008 6:50 AM

a long list of strong reactions

this is a metaphor for life

appreciate it while it is here

I have accepted that this is the lifecycle for this piece of art

will I miss it?
would I prefer that it stayed?
am I worried about the next stage for this space at Hains Point?
yes... yes... yes...

but I am not angry
well... I am angry
but not about someone buying something that was for sale

angry at Peterson?

be angry at our government
they should have bought it
and kept it there

this is symbolic
let this aid you in appreciating things more
and being more active in protecting what is important to you

photos of THE AWAKENING on my blog
the final day at Hains point...
some night shots two nights before the removal...
a few days at sunset...
and some other shots with my boys climbing on it


Posted by: gwadzilla | February 21, 2008 8:16 AM

While I generally find the dizzy array of nosey neighbor groups here in DC annoying, can't some of them band together to try and buy this piece back? They may actually do a positive public service, which would be refreshing. Probably a million bucks would it.

Posted by: Rob | February 21, 2008 11:19 AM

Saw a picture of the move today in our local newspaper -- very sad to learn of this. It has always been on our list of things to see on each of our visits and our kids loved climbing on it. Sounds like DC's loss, although I will probably make the effort to go find it next time we visit -- and maybe that was Peterson's point -- I doubt I'd ever be visting his project otherwise.

Posted by: David Joy, South Windsor, CT | February 21, 2008 8:45 PM

Wow look at all Prince Georges and Maryland haters. I think Maryland should take back D.C. from all these arrogant unappreciative sticks in the mud.

Prince Georges county and Maryland already has a gravitational pull that D.C. and Virginia will recognize is a force to be reckoned with.

Sucks for D.C. and Va :-D

Posted by: Maryland IS Best | February 22, 2008 12:31 PM

Patti...I have been in N.H. (New Hampshire) and I liked it very much. People are very nice and don't shoot each other. Not much public road drag racing either.

Maryland IS don't realize that for years, former Marylanders such as myself, have advocated md taking back dc? The best I ever felt about md what when I left, forty years ago.

Virginia received the best part of the original district, that part west of the Potomac. DC might make Baltimore look attractive. MD, as a state, could then possibly have the highest murder rate in the country.

Sucks for DC and MD, especially PG and Balto. Western MD is cool.

Posted by: Michael1945 | February 22, 2008 1:59 PM

Taught gifted children for many years and always took them to see the statue to their great delight and suprise . Think move is a great loss..Is th is the change we hear so much about? Sad.

Posted by: Robert Rittenhouse | February 22, 2008 9:40 PM

I don't know the man who bought it or his motives, but shame on those who allowed this to happen. If he cared about the statue so much he should have bought and left it alone. It seems pretty obvious that he is using it to lure people to whatever gimicky park he is developing. so sad. Haines point will never be the same and nobody i know goes to PG county. This just leaves a horrid taste in my mouth.

Posted by: Keith - Arlington,VA | March 3, 2008 3:50 PM

Check your dates. I was a single young lady, playing Frisbee with my buddies as a regular Saturday night summertime thing and was running backwards, fell over the hand, scrambling to pull my skirts around me (pants were till not quite the thing in DC for young ladies) and we all were mystified - What is this obstruction in the dirt? My best buddy ran to the parkign lot, brought his car up and shined the lights on it and we were all stupifyed. We marvelled at the intricacies of the sculptor's craft. The hands reaching for unknown support, the beard, the knee, the broken nail on the big toe, jagged nails on his hands. What was it? We didn't know and it lay there for at least 6 months to a year with NO NAME plate!

I was just out of high school and we called it "the statue coming out of the ground at the Point." I know it was before 1980, more like early - mid 70's. We used lived at Haines Point and East Potomac Park - the miniature golf course - all summer long - we knew what went on, what was new and nothing as amazing as The Awakening had ever happened before.
Sorry, so sorry to see it moved.

Posted by: Kit Gilchrist | March 4, 2008 12:36 PM

my son will be in the area at the end of march. even though the park wont e officially open til april, will he be able to see the awakening statue?

Posted by: nina | March 4, 2008 2:36 PM

I just received a call from a friend that I had insisted go see the AWAKENING. He asked at the Metropolitan Club how to find it, and was told it was no longer in DC. I came to this site to see what had happened, and learned my special "man" to visit was gone. I always looked with great anticipation to seeing the Awakening at the point. I am shocked to know that he did not belong forever to this location. Shocked that the people who lived in DC, that seemed to regard him so, let him go. The man who bought him did not do so for altruistic motives or, of course, the sculpture would still be where he was. Many District people did not know of his existence. I got into a cab at the Hay Adams only to have to go back and get someone to come out and tell my driver what, and where, the sculpture was. All I know, is, if I loved him so and lived there, I would have been out making sure that he did not leave. So to all you people who are outraged that someone came in, bought , and took him away.............I say look in the mirror, and see who REALLY is responsible for letting him go!

Posted by: stacey | March 16, 2008 7:26 PM

Moving "The Awakening"! What a disgusting outcome! On weekend mornings in spring, summer, and fall when I was a DC resident, I'd bicycle around Hanes Point 15, 20, or 30 times marveling with each pass at the majesty of Johnson's sculpture. I probably passed it over a thousand times. Over the years, the proverbial busloads of tourists, headwinds blowing up the river, or tots on bikes straying on to the roadway made that part of the passage dicey, but so be it. They, too, were entitled to that regal experience. And now it's gone! What a shame!

Posted by: Robert Handloff | March 23, 2008 5:46 PM

As far as I'm concerned it was a political desecration of the art form. There was meaning as to where it was placed. They may as well have taken any one of the monuments on the Mall for that matter.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2008 6:23 PM

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