McMillan Park is a 25-acre parcel of land near the large medical complex that includes Children’s National Medical Center, Medstar Washington Hospital Center and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The Ward 5 site, which is bordered by North Capitol Street, First Street Northwest, Michigan Avenue, and Channing Street Northwest, was once part of a 92-acre Reservoir and Filtration Plant. The land has been unused since 1987.
The historic row houses across from the park have had the same view for decades: a chain link fence that was erected during World War II when the U.S. government feared someone would attempt to poison our water supply. The fence was built with the promise that it would come down, but it has remained a constant in the lives of the residents of the Bloomingdale and Stronghold neighborhoods.
Now, after 28 years, the Office of the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and partner developer Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) expect to break ground in 2016 on a long disputed redevelopment plan.
McMillan Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr, and built in the late 1800s as a public park. Olmsted designed the site to be part of the “Emerald Necklace,” the series of parks that surrounded D.C. The park was named after Michigan Senator James McMillan, who helped plan the park and reservoir as part of an city beautification project in the early years of the 20th century. The park was one of the first integrated parks in the city, and was enjoyed by both black and white families.