Druid Hill Park is one of the first large public parks in America and Baltimore’s first large municipal park. It is the third oldest established park in the United States. Druid Hill Park consists of 745 acres. The history of Druid Hill Park began over two centuries ago when the Susquehannock Indians ceded land in 1652- that included that park’s area and its holdings to Lord Baltimore. Because of its access to the Jones Falls stream and other springs it is believed to have been an ideal site for the Native Americans. Lord Baltimore subsequently began to parcel the land out.
The area which is now considered Druid Hill Park was once owned primarily by three generations of the Rogers Family. Nicholas Rogers (son of the first Nicholas Rogers who originally purchased the land) developed an interest in landscape architecture when he studied in Glasgow, Scotland during the late eighteenth century. As a veteran of the American Revolution, Nicholas Rogers is known for planting many of the trees in the park and for constructing the original mansion (which was destroyed by fire and later replaced in the early nineteenth century).
Rogers died in 1822 freeing all of his slaves and bequeathing most of his land to his only son, Lloyd Nicholas Rogers. Established as an official city park in 1860 when Lloyd Rogers sold most of the land to the city of Baltimore. The park was developed as part of a nationwide movement-the American Parks Movement- to provide large parks for urban dwellers. This movement followed in the tradition of European Park design. Druid Hill Park is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Its most well-known elements are the man-made Druid Hill Reservoir, which began construction in 1863, and the Maryland Zoo (previously known as the Baltimore Zoo). Druid Hill Reservoir was completed in 1871-it is approximately fifty-five acres in extent and contains 429 million gallons of water with an average depth of 30 feet. Established in 1876, the Baltimore Zoo received its early animal collections from prominent Baltimoreans who wanted to enhance the experience of nature in the park. The park is also home to the country’s second oldest Victorian glass conservatory, the Howard P Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens.
The Jones Falls trail travels through the park and meanders through the “back hills” of Druid Hill providing visitors with a view of the woodland areas of the park. Druid Hill also offers a variety of athletic fields, picnic and pavilions for use, historic monuments, and a “disc” golf course. The Druid Hill Reservoir provides a 1.5 mile walking loop is very popular for biking, running and walking. The Department of Recreation and Parks operates a “Ride Around” Program on Wednesday evenings (May through August), where bikes are provide for use around the reservoir with a photo I.D.
Druid Hill Park is located in northern Baltimore and is bounded by the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) to the east, Swann Drive and Reisterstown road to the west, Druid Park, Lake Drive to the South, and Druid Park Drive to the South.
- Urban greenway park
- Basketball Courts
- Tennis Courts
- Ball fields
- Athletic fields
- Disc golf course
- Picnic groves/pavilions
- Howard Peter Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens
- Zen garden
- Jones Falls Trail
- City Farms Garden
- Safety City
- Lakeside Loop Trail around Druid Reservoir
- Accessible by MTA Bus Routes
- Mondawmin Metro Station