Druid Hill Park Professional Review and Guide
"Druid Hill Park, a massive urban oasis at 745 acres, was founded in 1860 and created from revenue collected from a penny tax on nickel horsecar fares. In the United States, only Philadelphia’s Fairmount and New York’s Central rank as older urban landscaped parks. Indeed, it was the Olmsted brothers, fresh off their design of Central Park, who turned their attention to Druid Hill. Despite the great attention to landscape details, whole swaths of the park have been left blissfully alone and now constitute some of the largest intact areas of old-growth forest in Maryland. Druid Hill was originally part of George Buchanan’s rolling country estate, and his gorgeous mansion now serves as the Maryland Zoo’s administrative home. Druid Hill Park houses not only the state’s oldest zoo, but also a whole host of historic sites and buildings, miles of meandering trails (including a lovely portion of the Jones Falls Trail), a public pool, basketball and tennis courts, lots of fun events sponsored by the Friends of Druid Hill (druidhillpark.org) such as annual winter solstice parties, and Druid Park Lake, a magnet for recreation-seekers from all over the city. For those who normally stick to the most developed sections of the park, the rest can be a revelation. Old carriage and bridle paths, once open to automobile traffic, have reverted to pedestrian and bicycle traffic only. A stroll through all four corners of this wonderful park never fails to yield surprises and delights. Baltimore author Upton Sinclair, most famous for his novel The Jungle, spent many hours here, later reminiscing, “[Druid Hill] is such a beautiful park. I used to walk over from Grandfather Harden’s house on Maryland Avenue with a book of Shakespeare under my arm.” That’s still a lovely way to spend a day."