Photo credit: Maureen Kavanagh , 04/21/2004

Property Name: Baltimore-Washington Parkway
Date Listed: 5/9/1991
Inventory No.: AA-5, PG:69-26
Location: Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295), Anne Arundel County, Prince Georges County

Description: The Federally owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is coterminous with its historic right-of-way boundaries: extending northeast from the eastern border of the District of Columbia near the Anacostia River, through Prince Georges and Anne Arundel Counties, Maryland, encompassing 1,353 acres. The 19-mile Federally owned and maintained section of the parkway terminates just below Jessup Road (MD 175) at the Baltimore City line. The irregular right-of-way is 400 to 800 feet wide, and contains the dual-lane roadway, a variable-width median of 15 to 200 feet, a flanking buffer of natural forest and cultivated native vegetation, scores of culverts, and 22 bridges. The terrain is composed of generally forested, gentle hills with modest vistas but no outstanding scenic features. Although promoted since the early 20th century, construction was not initiated by the Federal Bureau of Public Roads until 1942, with most development occurring from 1950-1954. Its design as a defense highway and alternative commuter route thus blends foundling parkway characteristics of landscape architecture and materials with post-war economies, so that stylistically it represents the end of a 50-year continuum of parkway construction. The historic district includes inestimable contributing elements of landscape architecture and approximately 125 contributing structures, including 18 bridges and numerous culverts with decorated headwalls.

Significance: The Baltimore-Washington Parkway achieves state and local significance in the areas of transportation and landscape architecture. It is associated with urban development of the National Capital as a Federal center, it exemplifies, the last period of construction for this type of road, and is the only fully developed parkway of its kind in Maryland. It achieves extraordinary significance as a contributing element to the National Capital Park and Parkway system developed during the first half of the 20th century, although the parkway itself was constructed largely between 1950-1954, and is less than 50 years old. Although conceived and promoted from the 1920s, construction of the Baltimore-Washington parkway was not initiated until 1942. Its enabling legislation justifies it: as a major scenic artery within the park and parkway system of the nation's capital; as a formal entrance to the city of Washington, D.C.; as a defense/military route among suburban Federal installations and the city; and as a contributing element to the commercial and residential development of the Baltimore-Washington corridor. The parkway maintains original integrity of setting, design, and associations characteristic of the earliest parkways designed for pleasure motoring--the preservation of natural topography and vegetation for scenic purposes coupled with "high-speed" elements of modern freeway design.




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