• Park Cultural Landscapes


Throughout history, people's relationship with the landscape has shaped communities, personal stories, and historic events. Here we highlight people whose significant contributions to the stories shared by the National Park Service included direct links and influence of their surrounding landscapes.

Featured Person

Elizabeth P. Thomas

Elizabeth P. Thomas
Maryland, Washington D.C., 1820-1830
Elizabeth Proctor Thomas was born in Prince George’s County, Maryland in the early 1800s. As child, Thomas and her parents moved to Vinegar Hill, a small community of free blacks located in northwest Washington, D.C., approximately two miles south of the Maryland border.  The family settled on a high point beside the Seventh Street Turnpike, a major road leading to downtown Washington.

When the Civil War began, the nation’s capital was protected by a single fort: Fort Washington, located 12 miles south of the city along the Potomac River. Realizing the defense of the capital was dangerously inadequate following the Union defeat at Manassas in July 1861, Congress voted in favor of constructing a ring of forts and other defensive works to encircle the city. Soon afterwards, miles of trees were cleared and building commenced.  By the end of the war, 68 forts, 93 batteries, 20 miles of rifle pits, and 32 miles of military roads surrounded the capital and Washington became the most heavily fortified city in the world. Read More