Druid Hill Park is a 745 acre urban oasis located in the heart of Baltimore City. The land was purchased in 1860 by the City of Baltimore from Lloyd Rogers with municipal funds raised by the revenue derived from a one cent park tax on the nickel horse-car fares, put through by Mayor Thomas Swann.
The park was designed by landscape designer Howard Daniels and John H. Latrobe. George A Frederick the 21-year-old Baltimore architect, who later won the commission for Baltimore City Hall, provided architectural designs throughout the park. Among Frederick's structures are the Moorish Tower, Chinese Pavilion and the Baltimore Conservatory (Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory).
When the Park first opened in 1860, recreation facilities such as pools and tennis courts were racially segregated. This practice was finally challenged on July 11, 1948, when 24 black tennis players, protesting the City's discriminatory policies, were arrested for playing on the park's "white-only" tennis courts. The names of the protesters are commemorated on the Baltimore Tennis Club Marker, located adjacent to the Rawlings Conservatory. The incident is also memorialized in the last public column and editorial of the famed Baltimore editor, reporter, columnist and author, H.L. Mencken, nationally-famous, daily newspaper, the Baltimore Sun in 1948, who condemned the City's segregationist policies.
Today, the park is home to a number of attractions. These include:
Baltimore Tennis Club - The Baltimore Tennis Club (BTC), circa 1895, is a non-profit tax exempt organization that continues to adhere to its founding purpose, "to promote tennis for all ages, races, and tennis abilities ". Known in earlier years as the Monumental Tennis Club, the Baltimore Tennis Club has always placed the highest emphasis on Junior Development. The Club conducts year-round training programs for adults and juniors, league play, tournaments, and leadership experiences for all members.
Druid Hill Disc Golf - Two 18-hole courses - one in a park setting and one in the woods. Courses can be played separately or in various hole combinations. An additional 18-hole mixed park/woods course is under development.
Druid Hill Park Pool - Managed by the Department of Recreation and Parks of the City of Baltimore. The Druid Hill Park houses one park pool and one wading pool. The Aquatics Program Center offers courses in aqua aerobics, swimming lessons, swim conditioning and diving.
Druid Hill Reservoir - Druid Hill Lake was built from 1863 to 1871. The first major earth-filled dam in U.S., it is a National Water Landmark. It is a 55-acre city reservoir containing 365 million gallons of Baltimore's drinking water. Ride or walk the 1.5 mile Reservoir Loop. Use the exercise stations. Enjoy views of the lake from many vantage points.
Howard P Rawlings Conservatory - The Rawlings Conservatory greenhouses are in distinct climates that allow for the display of plants from all over the world. The Conservatory introduces the world’s flora to visitors who may experience the plants in conditions close to their natural environments.
Jones Falls Trail - When complete, the Jones Falls Trail will extend 10 miles between Baltimore's Inner Harbor and the Mount Washington Light Rail Station. Currently, a paved, off-road section runs from Cylburn Arboretum south to the Inner Harbor. A highlight of the journey is passage through Druid Hill Park, which offers a natural escape from city life.
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is the third oldest zoo in the United States, dating back to 1876. It was created by an Act of the Maryland General Assembly that called for "a zoological collection within the limits of Druid Hill Park for the purpose of public exhibition for the instruction and recreation of the people." Today the Zoo’s focus is on wildlife conservation and education. It is an active participant in breeding programs for several endangered or threatened animals, including elephants, chimpanzees, polar bears, and African penguins. The Maryland Zoo is also one of the founding members of Project Golden Frog, a conservation consortium trying to prevent the extinction of Panamanian Golden Frogs and the home for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, which provides health care and lifesaving medical procedures to wild mountain gorillas in their native habitats.
Pool Number 2 Memorial - This memorial recognizes the era of segregated facilities in Druid Hill Park at the site of the formerly segregated swimming pool and tennis courts.
Ride Around the Reservoir - The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks Summer Bike Program. Bikes are available for rent for a donation.
The Friends of Druid Hill Park is a "grass roots" community group founded in 2009. We work in partnership with the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks in the promotion, preservation, and maintenance of Druid Hill Park. Our mission is to protect and maintain the park's magnificent woods and arbors, to preserve it's historic monuments and buildings, and to reinvigorate the park as central recreational, cultural, and educational institution. Join the Friends of Druid Hill Park as a member and connect to the Park!
Druid Hill Park