Not every memorial in Washington, DC is a colossal, tourist-swarmed, marble and stone monument. Some, like Sonny Bono Memorial Park, are quiet, intimate, and easy to miss if you don’t know where to look.
The small, triangular patch of grass where New Hampshire Avenue intersects 20th and O Streets has been a memorial to Salvatore “Sonny” Bono since his friend Geary Simon, a local real estate developer, dedicated the 800-square-foot space in 1998. Bono, who had achieved fame in his early life as a recording artist and producer, became friendly with Simon while serving as a representative for California’s 44th district, an office he held until his sudden death in 1998. The two men met at a martial studio owned by Simon’s girlfriend and attended by Bono’s children, and quickly developed a close friendship. Following Bono’s tragic ski accident, Simon approached the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, offering $25,000 of his own money for the development and maintenance of the unused space.
Simon decorated the traffic island with shrubbery, small benches, a tree from Bono’s congressional district in Southern California, and a plaque reading “In Memory of My Friend Sonny Bono 1935-1998: Entertainer, Entrepreneur, Statesman, Friend.” Buried underneath the plaque is a small vault containing various memorabilia, including the original sheet music to Sonny & Cher’s “The Beat Goes On.”
Know Before You Go
The park is the triangular green space bounded by New Hampshire ave, 20th st, and O st NW.