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Urban Oasis: A History of Rock Creek Park

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, May 16, 2024 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV081
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

The Boulder Bridge, built in 1902, is one of the favorite destinations for visitors to Rock Creek Park (Photo: Courtesy of the Rock Creek Conservancy)

Established in 1890, Rock Creek Park was the third national park created in the United States and the first in a major city. More than 2,000 acres winding through Northwest Washington were set aside as a refuge for wildlife and an escape for District residents.

Before the founding of the park, the land supported Indigenous people, agriculture, fishing, and industry. The creek powered mills, watered orchards, and was a conduit for trade in the nation’s capital. 

While the landscape feels natural today, much of Rock Creek Park was meticulously laid out by the noted Olmstead Brothers. Their rustic style of bridges, roads, and structures helped set the tone of national "parkitecture" across the country.

Carolyn Muraskin, founder of DC Design Tours, surveys familiar parts of the landscape, including the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, as well as lesser-known landmarks, memorials, ruins, and other remnants of Rock Creek Park’s past.

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