In the late 1990s, the WC Smith Company invested in the Near Southeast neighborhood (now Capitol Riverfront), which at the time consisted of vacant lots, warehouses, bars, widely scattered sub-standard single family homes, many of which were abandoned, and deteriorated public housing. Spurred by a nascent plan for redevelopment of the Anacostia Waterfront, the Smith Company envisioned a new vibrant community and proposed to the city's Office of Planning that the Canal Blocks be turned into a new park replete with water features and activities recalling the canal's heritage. The company helped form a non-profit entity, CPDA, to raise funds for the new park. Subsequently, CPDA and the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (AWC) jointly hosted a design competition for Canal Park in 2004. After the design competition award, AWC moved forward with design development and CPDA ceased activities.

The District eliminated AWC in 2007, and its projects were absorbed into the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development ("DMPED"). Subsequently, in October 2008, DMPED entered into a license agreement with CPDA to redesign the park based on new stakeholder program requirements and to complete its construction.

Historical Timeline

1791 L'Enfant Plan - Reference to reservation 17 (now Garfield Park: Five grand fountains intended with a constant spout of water. N.B. There are within the limits of the City above 25 good springs of excellent water abundantly supplied in the driest season of the year.
1792 Construction on the Washington City Canal begins (National Register nomination, p. 13)
1794 Plan de la ville de Washington en Ameriqueh Reservation 17 labeled C. La Bourse.
1795 Canal is abandoned due to financial disarray (National Register nomination, p. 13).
1800 Map notes name Garfield Park, no canal noted.
1802 Map from "The Traveler's Directory" - no eastern branch of canal noted.
1802 Construction on the Washington City Canal resumes through 1815 (National Register nomination, p. 13)
1812 Plan for a Marine Hospital and Asylum (reservation 17 as per L'Enfant Plan)
1815 The Washington City Canal opens for use.
1867 The Washington Canal Bill is introduced: vests a 30 year lease interest in the canal to a group of citizens, under the name of the Washington City Canal Company; provides for narrowing portions of the canal, changing bridges to pivot or draw-bridges; granting right of way through Half Street and other streets in order to connect James Creek Canal to Washington City Canal.
1870 Act of Congress to cause the Washington Canal, either in whole or in part, to be dredged, or if decreed best, dredged and narrowed, or arched over and converted into a sewer.
1871 The Pennsylvania Railroad requests permission from DC to build a railroad station at 6th Street, SW. Railroads made canals across the country obsolete (Historic American Building Survey for L'Enfant Plan).
1873 The railroad station on the Mall is complete.
1876 Canal is converted to an open storm sewer.
1880 Roose Map of Washington, DC notes canal path with bridges spanning canal at L and N Streets.
1902 Newspaper article cites instances of people dying from falls into the canal.
1903 Congress grants a portion of Reservation 17 (Garfield Park) to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company (Historic American Building Survey for L'Enfant Plan).
1905 Congress approves the transfer of more than six acres between New Jersey Avenue and South Capitol Street for uses as a heating, lighting and power plant for the Capitol (Historic American Building Survey for L'Enfant Plan).
early 1900's Canal Street is built over the old canal.
1947 Transfer of jurisdiction of the land comprising the old canal between Squares 737 and 739, identified as U.S. Reservation 17-A (note sketch below), from the National Park Service to the District of Columbia (Office of the Surveyor, book #125).
1969 Portion of Reservation 17 (Garfield Park) is transferred to jurisdiction of the District of Columbia for Southeast/Southwest Freeway construction. Second Street, which had been a through street in the park, closes to traffic and is claimed as parkland. Historic American Building Survey for L'Enfant Plan).

Park Features

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Design Team

OLIN led a multidisciplinary team on consultants in the creation of this catalytic urban park.

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Developer/Funding Partners

Government of the District of Columbia, Vincent Gray, Mayor

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Park Map

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