August 26, 2017, My daughter and I took a trip to Glen Echo Park. I remembered this from a while ago. She was 10 months old at the time and to put this in perspective from the time differences, she is almost 8 years old now. She could remember the first trip and that made sense—how could she?
What I recalled before, was taking her to see a puppet show. She appeared to enjoy it. What I didn’t know at the time, is that this had history, even history connecting to the civil war. It was not always a park, especially a park geared towards children. I made several recordings of this trip and took pictures to document the experience.
Edwin and Edward Baltzley, inventors, industrialists but more importantly, real estate developers. They wanted to create a living space, just outside of Washington DC. A section of town free from the pollution, new business, essentially a suburbia metropolitan minus the inconveniences of city life. This was their plan in 1891. The Baltzley Inc. created the National Chautauqua of Glen Echo.
Unfortunately, in 1892, many Baltzley enterprises were seriously in debt. By the spring of that year, the Glen Echo Railroad Company was severely underfunded. Their troubles did not lessen due to a rumored outbreak of malaria and even though these rumors were not confirmed, it hurt the status of the Baltzley Brothers. As a result, this concession of terrible circumstances, the National Chautauque of Glen Echo fell into ruin.
In the early part of the 20th century, the Chautauqua site was reinvented into an amusement park called Glen Echo Park. The park did have a dark history, as part of their times, segregation was immersed in its infrastructure. On June 30, 1960, to draw attention to the continuing segregation, a group of college students (primarily from Howard University) staged a sit-in protest on the carousel. Five African American students were subsequently arrested for trespassing. The arrests were appealed to the Supreme Court four years later, and the convictions were reversed in Griffin v. Maryland on the grounds that the state had unconstitutionally used its police power to help a private business enforce its racial discrimination policy. (Scharfenberg, Kirk (April 2, 1969). “Laughter Dies At Glen Echo”.The Washington Post. Glen Echo Park – Frequently Asked Questions (U.S. National Park Service). The Washington Post, Protest on a Sculpted Horse (June 29, 2004).
But for this article here are pictures from the current with a glimpse in the past. As for all of United States History racism is as American as the baseball and Marilyn Monroe. The outlook beauty of it is stained with blood and tears of the oppressed. I seen a park today is enjoyable to young kids but we must always remember that it was not for all kids. Unless you want to bring back such evil, fight to eliminate it forever.
Glen Echo Park seems to be doing that, well at least from outward appearances.