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Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Water lilies in Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
Map showing the location of Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
Location District of Columbia, USA
Nearest city Washington, D.C.
Area about 700 acres (280 ha)
Established 1938
Governing body National Park Service

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens is a National Park Service site located in the north eastern corner of Washington, D.C., and the Maryland state border. Nestled near the banks of the Anacostia River and directly south of the Baltimore Washington Parkway, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens preserves a plethora of rare waterlilies and lotuses in the cultivated ponds near the river. The park also contains the Kenilworth Marsh, the only remaining tidal marsh in Washington, D.C. and an adjacent recreational area.


  • Biology 1
  • History 2
  • The park today 3
  • Notes and references 4
  • External links 5


The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna once native to the region before algae, lichens, mushrooms, and worms.[2] The Audubon Society also does an annual bird count around December and the most recent count in 2007 came up with 59 different species of birds. All in all, 257 different species of birds have been sighted for all four seasons including herons, shorebirds, sparrows and a host of less commonly seen birds.[3] Mammals sighted in the park include beavers, muskrats, minks, deer, foxes, and even coyotes. In addition, other wetland plants besides the lilies that thrive abundantly include wild rice and the all-season cattail.[3] Unfortunately, many invasive species such as snakeheads have also been found in the ponds and marshland within the park.[4]


Geese crossing a path in the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

The land that is now Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens was originally purchased by Civil War veteran Walter B. Shaw in the 1880s.[5][6] Feeling homesick, Shaw had wild waterlilies native to his home state of Maine brought and planted in the land. When the flowers Shaw brought thrived in the environment, Shaw brought in more plants and started a commercial attraction under the name W.B. Shaw Lily Ponds in 1912.[6] In 1921, when Shaw died, his daughter, Helen Shaw Fowler, took over the prospering business which was being visited by many dignitaries, including US presidents.[5] Unfortunately, by this time the nearby Anacostia River had become filled with an excess of silt making navigation on the river difficult. The United States Army Corps of Engineers was called in to dredge the river which meant that the gardens were in danger of being destroyed. Helen fought to save the gardens and eventually in 1938, Congress authorized the purchase of the gardens for $15,000 to create the park.[5]

The park today

Water lilies in the park

Today, the park is under the administrative portion of National Capital Parks-East of the National Park Service.[7] The total area of the park is about 700 acres (2.8 km2) large and constitutes the water gardens, Kenilworth Marsh, ballfields, and recreational facilities. The gardens have since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and also designated a Category II Landmark by the Joint Committee on Landmarks of the National Capital. Portions of Kenilworth Marsh have also undergone restoration in 1992-1993 adding 32 acres (130,000 m2) of tidal marsh out of what was mud flats.[8]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens - Nature and Science". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  2. ^ "Species List - (May 31-June 1, 1996) Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens - BioBlitz". Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - USGS. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  3. ^ a b "Kenilworth's creature features". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  4. ^ Fahrenthold, David A. "Snakeheads appear at home in the Potomac". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  5. ^ a b c "Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens - History & Culture - People". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  6. ^ a b "Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  7. ^ "Management". National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  8. ^ "Description of Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens". United States Geological Survey - Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 

External links

  • Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens - Official National Park Service Website
  • Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens Photo Gallery
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