A plan to update the swimming pool at Druid Hill Park is drawing community support, but some residents are questioning the need for a 79-space parking lot.
The Druid Hill Aquatic Center is slated to undergo renovations to its main pools and mechanical systems and add a new bathhouse and kiddie splash pool. But the project would also add dozens parking spaces around the tennis courts across East Drive from the aquatic center, leaving several community groups concerned about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists amidst increased vehicle traffic.
For some, it's the history. For others, it's nature. For still others, the draw is the zoo. Or the conservatory. Or recreation. Or the wildlife.
On any given day, hundreds of people find a reason to visit Druid Hill Park, the crown jewel in the necklace of public parks owned and maintained by the city of Baltimore.
And even as part of it is undergoing reconstruction as the city installs underground tanks to hold Baltimore's drinking water, people find plenty of reasons to spend time there and want to protect it.
The 745-acre park opened in 1860, and survives today as the city's largest and oldest municipal green space. Along with Central Park in New York (1858), Fairmount Park in Philadelphia (1812) and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (1871), it was one of the first landscaped public parks in the U.S.
Recreational amenities include a public pool, disc golf courses, tennis courts, a 1.5-mile walking and biking loop, ballfields, basketball courts and picnic groves. The Friends of Druid Hill Park, an advocacy group, and the city's Department of Recreation and Parks organize events that help draw people, such as a farmers' market from June to September, walking and night hikes and fitness classes.
Like all parks, Druid Hill Park technically closes after dark, but it's never really dormant. Around the clock, people tend to the plants in the conservatory, care for the animals at the zoo, clean up after visitors. And when day breaks, they're ready do it all over again.
When Mayor Thomas Swann dedicated Druid Hill Park in 1860, he said it was meant to be a resource for "the whole people--no matter from what remote land, no matter what sect or religion they belong, no matter what field of labor, however elevated or however humble." Nearly 160 years later, it has lived up to that promise.
For the third year running, Baltimore basketball legend and retired NBA star Muggsy Bogues is bringing a basketball tournament to his hometown. It’s all in honor of his sister Sherron, who helped steer Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ basketball and football programs for more than three decades.
Baltimore’s AFRAM Festival, a celebration of the city’s African-American culture, art and life now going on 42 years, will feature “Boo’d Up” singer Ella Mai, local legends Dru Hill, Atlanta R&B crooner Jacquees and gospel singer VaShawn Mitchell, the city announced today. And it will be two days, rather than one, as first reported by The Sun on Friday.
On this last weekend of April, head to the country for the great Maryland tradition of steeplechase racing, pick out a gift for Mom at one of several markets or festivals, or catch some bluegrass at Druid Hill Park.
In its present sprawling state, Druid Park Lake Drive “acts as a divider”—”a moat,” even—for pedestrians and residents living near Druid Hill Park, Councilman Leon Pinkett says. “The speed and the width of that corridor doesn’t allow communities of West Baltimore…to really access the park in the way that it should.”
But with Baltimore’s Department of Transportation already set to close off lanes along the thoroughfare to make way for construction equipment for the ongoing Druid Lake Reservoir project, the city is trying a temporary experiment that Pinkett suggests is a “win-win.”
In case you haven’t heard, Baltimore is now in the middle of a 72-hour spell of no shooting, no killing. Last night, a “hack” cab driver shot one of his customers in the city limits, cutting it real close to the start of the three-day anti-gun violence event.