Door To Door: Fort Lincoln, D.C. And Glen Echo, Md. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door To Door: Fort Lincoln, D.C. And Glen Echo, Md.

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Bob King by some of his political memorabilia in his Fort Lincoln home.
Jonna McKone
Bob King by some of his political memorabilia in his Fort Lincoln home.

It's our weekly trip around the region.  This week, we visit Fort Lincoln in Northeast D.C., and Glen Echo, Md.

Door to Door: Fort Lincoln, D.C.

Robert "Bob" King has been the longest serving ANC commissioner in the District, and he's lived in Fort Lincoln, near the Maryland border in Northeast, since 1976.

"Fort Lincoln is home to the largest population of seniors living anywhere in the city," says King who affectionately recalls a story he likes to tell: " There's a couple hundred centenarians living in the city, and at one point we had 7 or 8 centenarians who are over a hundred living right here in Fort Lincoln. We used to say that the reason we had so many living in Fort Lincoln was maybe the water was different in Fort Lincoln than it was anywhere else."

And some of that aging population came to the neighborhood in the '70s along with King. "Fort Lincoln in the beginning afforded many African-Americans first time homeownership. It allowed many families like my family and others to come into Fort Lincoln who would have never dreamed of owning a home," says King.

Today the neighborhood will see a new Costco and more development, but King looks forward to a "kind of blend" of old residents with the new.

"You've got the mix of the new folks who are coming in here with a substantially higher income than when we moved here in 1976," he says.

Door to Door: Glen Echo, Md.

Debbie Beers, 62, is a resident of Glen Echo, Md. and has been the mayor of the small community for the past 20 years.

Beers moved to Glen Echo 34 years ago with her husband, after stumbling across the town by accident one day while driving around the area. "We just fell in love with it," Beers says. "The houses were all different; they were older. It's not a cookie-cutter town. Everything is very unique."

Glen Echo has undergone extensive development in recent years and just had its first teardown.

"I am a little concerned that we're going to see more of the older houses being torn down and simply replaced with new ones," Beers said. "Every last square foot of ground has been in-filled at this point, but it still retains that quirky character that we were first attracted to."

Thanks to revenue from additional taxes, Glen Echo residents enjoy a number of parties throughout the year, including a Halloween party, Christmastime holiday breakfast, and a summer picnic.

"I love the fact that I know almost everybody in the town," Beers says. "Everybody knows each other and pretty much watches out for each other.

Although the town wasn't chartered until 1904, Glen Echo got its start in the late 19th century when two brothers, Edward and Edwin Baltzley, the latter of whom invented the egg beater, purchased 516 acres of land and named the property Glen Echo on the Potomac. In 1891 they advertised the area in a brochure, calling it the Washington Rhine.

Glen Echo soon became the home of the National Chautaqua, a religious and educational movement that gained popularity in the late 1800s. Back then, people mainly used Glen Echo as a summer getaway.

Glen Echo was, and still is, a source of entertainment for visitors and locals alike.

After the Chautaqua closed, a trolley-park opened that boasted games, rides and concessions for trolley riders. Glen Echo's amusement park included a dance pavilion, and children's playground in addition to rides like the Whip and a carousel that remains in the park to this day.

In 1931 the Crystal Pool opened, which featured a sand beach. The Spanish Ballroom opened two years later and hosted a number of popular bands, including Bill Haley and the Comets.

However while many people flocked to Glen Echo Park for fun and thrills, the park was not open to everyone. The park was segregated until the spring of 1961, when managers reluctantly integrated the park due to pressure resulting from civil rights protests in the summer of 1960.

Although Glen Echo Park became integrated, the struggle didn't end there. On Easter Sunday in 1966 African-American patrons were disturbed to find that several rides, including the roller coaster, were closed. Although management chalked the closings up to mechanical problems, patrons suspected that the move was an attempt to sully their enjoyment of the park.

Violence ensued and the amusement park closed in 1968 in the wake of the riot.

Despite that dark period in the park's history, Glen Echo Park was reopened in 1970 under new management. The National Park Service now manages the park, which remains a source of entertainment for those who come to enjoy the park's theatre performances, workshops, and art and dance classes.

"Glen Echo Park has gone through a lot of changes," Beers said. "But I urge anyone to go over there and look at the newly renovated buildings, including the Spanish ballroom, which is absolutely beautiful."


[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Man on the Moon (In the Style of R.E.M.)" by Hot Fox Karaoke from Hot Fox Karaoke - R.E.M.]

Explore previously featured neighborhoods on our Door to Door map:

This map shows previous Door to Door segments, and includes links to photos and show audio. The yellow marker represents neighborhoods featured in Washington, D.C., the blue represents neighborhoods in Maryland, and the red represents neighborhoods in Virginia.

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