Druid Hill Park: The Heart of Historic Baltimore

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The History Press, 2008 - History - 160 pages
2 Reviews
Druid Hill Park lies at the hears of Baltimore and made history as one of the first public parks in America. This beautifully illustrated history tells the story of Druid Hill from the seventeenth century until today, and celebrates this natural refuge for fun and relaxation in urban Baltimore.

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This book cites the wrong middle name of the shepherd of Druid Hill Park. This is my Great Grandfather and his correct name was George Strother McCleary. Also known as Mr. Mac. Just a little bit of research would have been helpful...

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I just purchased the book but have not yet received it, so my comments are based on the Google Books preview. I'm looking forward to filling in my memories of the park with facts in the book. Unfortunately, I fear the book is neither comprehensive, nor completely factual. One apparent mistake that I noticed is the caption for the picture on page 48, which says "Union soldiers camped at Druid Hill Park." I have seen another photograph on the internet that shows the same encampment from a different view, and the soldiers clearly are WWI-era. As an aside, another view of the encampment on the internet shows a cupola-like structure in the background, which would indicate that the encampment might have been southwest of the Mansion House.
I also noted that the names and descriptions of the springs and fountains might not be comprehensive. For example, a spring rested at one end of the Garrett Bridge, where a horse can be seen drinking in one internet photograph. The ruins of the spring are visible in the MS Live bird's eye view on the internet (adjacent to the zoo infirmary). That spring is not conclusively identified in the book, which might call it the "Garrett Bridge Spring" or the "Colonial Spring." However, from photographs of the Garrett Bridge on the internet, it appears that the spring (fountain) in question might have been what the book identifies (but doesn't locate) as the "Morris Fountain."
The description of the “Three Sisters Ponds” (in the Google Books preview) is minimal. It gives scant description of the ponds, provides no photographs (other than an 1895-view of the sea lion pond), and doesn’t mention that the sea lion pond was used to display alligators in the late-40s-to-mid-50s, or thereabout. There were about a half-dozen alligators. A vandal fed them poisoned meat, killing all but one, as I recall. I believe the survivor was relocated to the Reptile House for many years, where it resided in the central display pit. The sea lion/alligator pond then became a duck pond, but the ducks’ wings were not properly clipped, or so the legend has it, and many flew away. After that, the sea lion/alligator/duck pond was relegated to an environmental sanctuary for wild birds, including red wing blackbirds, and frogs. A broken water pipe buried adjacent to the pond bubbled water through the ground, which spilled into the pond, keeping it full until the recent construction fixed the leak, leaving the frogs to fend for themselves.
It’s interesting that the book doesn’t mention (in the Google Books preview) which hill is “Druid Hill.” From old maps, I have discerned that “Druid Hill” is the promontory north of the Mansion House, on which sits the now-defunct Mammal House. It is the highest (or second-highest) point it the park, with the High Service Reservoir location possibly higher.
I also found the book, as shown in the preview, to be nearly devoid of descriptions of the many grand trees in the park, given that the park was designed as a de facto arboretum.
Perhaps, after I get my (full) copy of the book, I’ll be in a better position to more-fully review it, having noted that the Google Books preview omits numerous pages.
 

Contents

Preface
9
The RogersBuchanan Legacy
23
Grand Designs and Master Planners
51
Baltimores Zoological Park
69
Beauty at Play
107
Racial Turmoil and Civil Rights
121
The Hands of Humans
139
Bibliography
155
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Eden Unger Bowditch is a freelance writer and editor of The Urbanite Magazine, a Baltimore magazine that addresses urban issues.

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