“Doing it in the park, doing it after dark, oh yeah. Rock Creek Park, oh, yeah. Rock Creek Park.” — “Rock Creek Park” by The Blackbyrds (1975)
The Blackbyrds immortalized Rock Creek Park in song. Now D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes wants the 1,754-acre park recognized as a national landmark.
Norton has introduced a bill to rename the 129-year-old northwest D.C. gem. She wants to name it, “Rock Creek National Park,” which Norton said would serve to acknowledge the importance of the park for the nation, visitors and tourists.
“We are grateful to enjoy all the amenities of a beautiful park running through our city, but Rock Creek Park also deserves its place among the nation’s great historic parks,” she said. “Rock Creek Park is one of America’s oldest and most revered parks, enjoyed not only by hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents but by the millions who visit the District each year.”
In her legislation, Norton said it’s a central place for District residents. The congresswoman said the new title will highlight Rock Creek as one of the nation’s great historic parks, along with national parks like Yosemite and Sequoia National Park.
Rock Creek is the nation’s oldest urban park and the third-oldest federal park in the country.
The name change will help Congress to understand that it must do more to support Rock Creek Park, Norton said.
Over time, several structures have been established or donated to preserve Rock Creek Park further. In 1892, the federal government acquired Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park, one of the mills used by local farmers during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, Norton said.
In 1950, the Old Stone House, located at 3051 M Street NW, with its great pre-Revolutionary War architecture, was acquired by the park. The building was restored, and programs explain the house’s rich history from the colonial period to the present day.
The Fort Circle Parks were also acquired to interpret and preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington, which created a ring of protection for the nation’s capital during the Civil War.
“Today, Rock Creek Park is a tourist destination that’s different from our monument sites only in its creation by nature,” Norton said. “Re-designating Rock Creek Park as Rock Creek National Park will help recognize the national status of the park and will assist us in getting Congress to revitalize this remarkable resource in our nation’s capital.”