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A person walks along a paved bike trail
Anacostia Park
NPS Photo

Anacostia Park

Along the banks of the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., Anacostia Park is one of many green spaces located in the nation’s capital. The park’s grounds feature playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, a riverwalk trail, and a golf course. From roller skating alongside a park ranger and picnicking in the park to fishing and boating along the Anacostia River, this park has something to offer for everyone.

The history of the Anacostia area is long and complex. The abundance of fish, game, and other natural resources has made the Anacostia River area a gathering space for over 10,000 years. The Nacotchtank lived in this area before the rapid settlement of the land by English landowners and rapid decline of the Nacotchtanks. The name “Anacostia” comes from a Latinization of the Algonquin name “Nacotchtank,” nodding to their legacy.

Anacostia has seen the building of the Washington Navy Yard in 1799 and military forts during the American Civil War to the protests of over 10,000 World War I veterans advocating for the payment of their wartime bonuses in 1932. Though the park has had many plans envisioned – from Pierre L’Enfant’s vision of the nation’s capital to the McMillion Commission in 1901 – the course of the development of the area has changed over centuries. In 1933, management and oversight for Anacostia Park was turned over to the National Park Service.

Since then, the National Park Foundation (NPF) has a long history of supporting Anacostia Park and the local park philanthropy that supports it. To mark the park’s 100th anniversary, NPF granted funds to support the park’s efforts to expand relationships with local communities, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies, work that would eventually lead to the establishment of Friends of Anacostia Park, the local philanthropic partner of the park. Other NPF grants have helped connect the local community to the park – from Field Science projects studying the freshwater mussel to Junior Ranger Angler-supported community fishing programs. Efforts like these are helping to ensure that Anacostia Park is a space for both community gathering and quiet contemplation, where visitors can connect with both the outdoors and each other.

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