A Visit to Maryland's Glen Echo Park

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And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
— Joni Mitchell "The Circle Game"

Just beyond the walls of Glen Echo Park, the Potomac River slices its way through the D.C. area, sectioning the rocky banks and forested hills into a couple of states, a commonwealth, and a district—eventually dumping its waters into the Chesapeake Bay. I grew up about 30 miles from this particular spot, on the Virginia side of the Potomac. A large portion of my childhood was spent visiting many of the wonderful parks, museums, and points of interest the area has to offer. But somehow I managed to miss Glen Echo Park, until now. There is something mystifying about this place. It’s almost as if the ghosts of its first visitors still remain inside the gates, in a hushed kind of way and occupying a different plane now. You can almost hear their laughter as the carousel music plays and the horses begin their millionth turn. Around and around and around they go.

Built in the late 1800s, Glen Echo Park operated as an amusement park from 1911 until its closure in 1968. Today, the nine acre park has been reincarnated into a unique cultural center for the arts, offering a wide variety of classes and workshops centered around creativity. The park also serves as a public space where people can simply take a stroll, have a picnic, or go for a spin on the restored antique merry-go-round. I finally made it to Glen Echo on a muggy spring day in 2018. The photos accompanying this post are some of the things I saw.

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