National Capital Parks
A History
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PARKS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL, 1933-1951 (continued)

Carter Barron Memorial Amphitheater

A recent accomplishment in National Capital Parks was the completion of the Carter T. Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park. First used for the staging of the Paul Green symphonic drama "Faith of Our Fathers," the amphitheater is designed to become a major park facility when the drama is no longer in production. [127] Located amid the beautiful surroundings of Rock Creek Park, the Amphitheater will be the ideal setting for various public interest programs. The Amphitheater is an excellent example of coordination of the Planning Division with several other divisions of the office. The architects, landscape architects, and engineers worked closely together to achieve a plan and complete an impressive structure amid the proper natural setting.

Carter Barron Memorial Amphitheater
Carter Barron Memorial Amphitheater

George Washington Memorial Parkway

Much has been accomplished in the field of parkways. Progress was made on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. In 1950 the Spout Run connection of the parkway between Key Bridge and Lorcom Lane was completed and opened to traffic. This divided parkway a mile in length, now provides a continuous memorial drive from the Mount Vernon estate to the Lee Highway —Lorcom Lane connection. [128] Eventually, the George Washington Memorial Parkway will connect Fort Washington and Great Falls of the Potomac.

Baltimore-Washington Parkway

Progress on the 18.5 mile Federal stretch of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is also being made, On August 3, 1950, legislation was approved placing the Parkway from Washington to Fort Meade under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service with authority to proceed with construction. [129] As the local field office of the National Park Service, National Capital Parks was given jurisdiction over the project with the Bureau of Public Roads doing the construction. Nine of the 17 masonry overpasses and underpasses that eventually will be built from Washington to Jessup are now under construction as well as the bridge over the Patuxent river near the Annapolis road junction. [130] It is hoped that the important project may be completed in 1953.

Recently, the Public Housing Administration transferred Greenbelt Park, an area of 1148 acres adjacent to the town of Greenbelt and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, to the National Capital Parks office, The importance of this transfer cannot be over-emphasized. Tentative plans for the development of the park include an 18-hole golf course, practice driving ranges, miniature golf, wildlife preserves and other features which will serve both parkway travelers and residents of the north—west Washington metropolitan area. [131]

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Parkway

Plans have been made for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Parkway. A joint study made by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads concerning the feasibility of constructing a parkway along the right-of-way of the Federally-owned Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was completed in 1950. [132] On the basis of a favorable report to Congress, now available as House Document No. 687, 81st Congress, legislation was passed authorizing acceptance of land for use in connection with the project. [133] The Parkway is planned to follow the route of the canal from Great Falls to Cumberland, Md. The scenic, historic, and general recreational possibilities of this parkway are numerous. By means of the parkway, the public would be afforded access to many areas of natural beauty and historical significance. Some of these areas include the restored section of the Canal from Georgetown to Seneca, Md., the Great Falls of the Potomac, the proposed Harper's Ferry historical site, the Antietam National Battle field, and many other recreational areas.

Forts Drive

Plans for the encircling Forts Drive have also received attention from both the Planning division of the National Capital Parks and the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The commission is gradually acquiring land that will someday be used in the Forts Drive project. Forts Drive is intended to be a high speed "ring" road, distributing traffic on radial routes and handling circumferential traffic in the city. Not only will this project be important as a traffic control measure, but it shall afford the public an excellent scenic and historic drive. Along its route are many of the Civil War forts and batteries. These several preserved forts of the defenses of Washington remain as visible evidence of the great effort taken to protect the National Capital during the Civil War. [134] At the end of the War in April of 1865, the defenses of Washington consisted of 68 enclosed forts and 93 manned batteries. [135] Individual inquiries and a large attendance at the historical tour of the Civil War defenses indicates that there is considerable interest in these historic fortifications. Anacostia Park, an area of increasing park use, has received considerable attention, Fort Dupont Park, nearby, is another area under park development. This park is a rugged area extending high into the hills guarding the Anacostia river. It offers opportunity for development similar to Rock Creek Park. Providing both natural beauties and recreational possibilities, the area is destined to receive future park development. [136] Both of these parks will receive greater park use as the population expands.

Important features of the Parks System

The parks of the Nation's Capital are known and admired throughout the World. One of the principal features of the park system is its association with historic and beautiful streams. A large part of the park system is bordered by the historic Potomac and Anacostia rivers. Visitors are impressed by continuous drives bordered by shade trees. They find inspiration in the stately public buildings, memorials, and beautiful vistas of forest—bordered streams. [137] Long-range planning on the part of park officials has made these impressions a reality.

Capper-Crampton Act

The significance of the Capper-Crampton act to the development of the Capital's parks cannot be over—emphasized. By means of this act, advance land purchase and landing powers were given to the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Because of the Capper-Crampton act the National Capital Parks has kept pace with the increase in park use. Maryland has benefited from the act. The State of Virginia is now beginning to realize the possibilities. The Capper-Crampton act has made possible the acquisition of large tracts of land, destined for future park development. With park lands increasing, planners envision the need for more city and regional parks, more playgrounds, and parkways and inner-ring roads to lessen the traffic congestion.

It is a tribute to the planning and foresight of park officials that the National Capital Parks has kept abreast of the growing needs of the community and Nation. The National Capital Parks serves the needs of the citizens of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, and millions of citizens of the other States and foreign countries, who annually visit the Nation's Capital. The parks are extensively used for the benefit and enjoyment of all the people. [138] To insure the National character of the parks, they have remained under Federal control for 160 years.

An Evaluation

Washington is a city of magnificent parks. The official assessed valuation of National Capital Parks makes it one of the most valuable park systems of the World. [139] The entire value of the park system cannot be measured in monetary terms alone. It contributes to the mental and physical welfare of the countless millions who avail themselves of its benefits. National Capital Parks today stands ready to meet the needs of a growing community and Nation.

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Last Updated: 31-Jul-2003