Glover-Archbold Parkway

The parkland west of Glover Park includes a former right of way, intended as a recreational drive, that nearly became a highway.


In 1924 Glover gave the newly instituted National Capital Parks Commission seventy-seven acres in the valley of Foundry Branch, called the Glover Parkway and Children’s Playground; which, with the addition of twenty-eight acres from Anne Archbold at the southern end, became Glover-Archbold Parkway. The plan included a 100-foot right-of-way for the construction of a parkway, which seemed benign in 1924, when there were fewer cars. (The right-of-way was marked as Arizona Avenue; the name was transferred to its present location in 1954.)

“In 1947, Senator Carl Hayden proposed to build a four-lane divided highway called Arizona Avenue through the Glover Archbold Park, from Canal Road in Georgetown to Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights. Hayden’s proposed highway was not built; the path is now the Glover Archbold Trail and the Massachusetts-39th Trail. Weaver Street and Weaver Place were renamed Arizona Avenue in 1954 after a suggestion by the American University Park Citizens’ Association.”  (Wikipedia)

After World War II plans to exercise the right-of-way through the park began to go forward. A four-lane divided highway was proposed as a commuter artery. Opposition came from many quarters, including  donor Anne Archbold. “It is beautifully wooded, with a wealth of wild flowers and bird life. Quiet pathways lead down its sides along the meandering creek bed with its sycamore-tulip tangles, furnishing restful retreats for adults and fascinating children. Such a beautiful park cannot be eliminated if Washington is to grow as a living organism with its parts in proper balance.” (Washington Present And Future: A General Summary Of The Comprehensive Plan For The National Capital And Its Environs, April, 1950; “Glover-Archbold  Parkway”, Washington Post, May  30, 1953)

In 1956-7 the National Capital Park and Planning Commission issued a master plan for the Washington Metropolitan Area that called for construction of an eight-lane Three Sisters Bridge, and a four-lane highway through Glover-Archbold Park.

In 1961 Anne Archbold and C. Carroll Glover, Jr., filed an injunction against the District Commissioners and testified that the project was a violation of the public trust. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall supported the park advocates, and Senate majority leader Michael Mansfield (D-MT) introduced a bill to transfer the right-of-way to the National Park Service. The bill failed.

As late as 1967 the Commission of Fine Arts and the D.C. Department of Highways approved a plan for the Three Sisters Bridge, but the plan was dropped, and the District government finally ceded the right-of-way in Glover-Archbold Park to the National Park Service. (“Freeway Idea Killed as City Gives Up Glover-Archbold Corridor”, Washington Post, January 13, 1967, B3)

Anne Archbold died at Nassau, 1968: “It was my purpose that the beautiful wooded valley be preserved perpetually for the benefit and pleasure of the public. It  should remain and be enjoyed by all  as a natural sanctuary.” (“Park Donor Anne Archbold, 94, Dies”, Washington Post, March 28, 1968, C14)

In 1971 her executor won an additional victory.  “Involved is the deductibility, as a charitable contribution, of legal fees paid by the taxpayer to a private law firm for the firm’s services in opposing highway construction through land which the taxpayer had earlier given to the United States for park purposes.” (444 F.2d 1120 – Anne Archbold, by John D. Archbold, Executor of the Estate of Anne Archbold, Deceased v. the United States, United States Court of Claims, July 14, 1971)

The nomination of Glover-Archbold Park to the National Register of Historic Places was approved January 16, 2007.


(“Park Offered Capital As Gift By Mrs. Archbold”, Star, October 23, 1924, p.19; “Hayden Bill Asks Developing Arizona Avenue: Four-lane Freeway Would Be Built from Canal Road,” Evening Star, December 21, 1947, p.33; “Weaver Street Change to Arizona Ave. OK’d”, Evening Star, January 12, 1954. p.1; “Court Upholds Suit by Park Road Foes,” Washington Star, January 28, 1960; “Glover-Archbold Road is Opposed by Udall,” Evening Star, January 25, 1962; “District Fights to Save Site for Parkway,” Evening Star, March 27, 1962; “Road Ban OK Seen in Glover-Archbold,” Evening Star, April 2, 1962; “AAA Backs Highway for Glover Park,” Evening Star, April 3, 1962; “Rivals Debate Future of Glover-Archbold,” Evening Star, JuIy 23, 1962; Mathilde D. Williams, “The Three Sisters Bridge: A Ghost Span over the Potomac”, Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C. (1969/1970), Vol. 69/70, pp.489-509)



A 1952 map of the projected four-lane Arizona Parkway through Glover-Archbold Park.




The 1957 North West Freeway study includes the option of an interstate highway and an a cloverleaf interchange at Whitehaven Parkway.



The proposed highway and bridge system. (Washington Post, April 30, 1959, research by Ghosts of DC)





Opposition to the Arizona Parkway through Glover Archbold Park was part of a much larger movement to thwart freeway construction projects that threatened neighborhoods across the metropolitan area.



In 1964, an inside-the-Capital-Beltway extension of Interstate 70-S, also known as the North Central Freeway, was proposed via a route known as “Option #11 Railroad Sligo East,” up to 1/4 mile parallel to the B&O railroad upon a swath of land displacing 471 houses, that would have cut the city in two.  In the mid-to-late 1960s, the future Mayor [of Takoma Park, Maryland] and civil rights activist Sam Abbott led a campaign to halt freeway construction and replace it with a Metrorail line to the site of the former train station, and worked with other neighborhood groups to halt plans for a wider system of freeways going into and out of DC.

Takoma Park, Maryland: History (Wikipedia)



“In the fall of 1968, when I was a sophomore at Georgetown University we helped stop the “Three Sisters Bridge,” which would have been the opening gambit for that insanely ambitious project.  The bridge would have brought I-66 into DC at the bottom of Glover-Archbold Park where it was supposed to slice through downtown along K Street until meeting I-95 at North Capitol Street. Needless to say, with the help of Takoma Park mayor Sam Abbott and Marion Barry, we stopped them using legal protests and not-so-legal monkey wrenching at the construction site on the DC side of the Potomac next to Three Sisters Islands.  Below are two relevant excerpts that reference this long, but ultimately successful struggle.”

Allen Hengst



Washington Post, October 17, 1969




A 1969 poster announcing Three Sisters Bridge protest rally.



Much of the power of the freeway complex was centered in the chairman of the Public Works Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Members of the interstate freeway complex and Congressman Dan Rostenkowski got together and made up their minds that, “Goddamit, if there was one city in the country that Congress controlled that was Washington, D.C.,” and they were damn well going to complete the interstate system through the District of Columbia.  The plan was to complete: the beltway; the inner beltway; the north central freeway; and, most important of all, the Three Sisters Bridge to carry I-95 south through Washington … Arrayed against the freeway lobby was a fiercely vocal, but not very impressive group called the Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis [ECTC].  This was a group headed by an otherwise very nice young man named Reginald Booker and included Sammy Abbott, former Communist candidate for the House of Representatives from Buffalo and later the mayor of Takoma Park.  It also included Julius Hobson and, as one of the chorus, Marion Barry.  I held some freeway and Three Sisters Bridge hearings, which immediately broke up into several famous riots (but more of that latter.)  The committee [ECTC] was funded by solid citizens of Georgetown, like attorney Ed Burling.  Their interest in the matter was to prevent the Three Sisters Bridge – or any highway — through Georgetown, and so they funded Reginald Booker and all of his conferees very lavishly.  When a hearing on the Three Sisters Bridge broke up yet in another riot, I had Ed Burling and his fellow Georgetowners to thank for paying Booker and Company to riot.  Among other things, I was hit with a flying ashtray.  Why was I so adamant?  I don’t give myself any particular merit badges for agreeing with the argument that freeways would ruin the city and Balkanize its different parts by putting up a “Chinese Wall” through the middle of a neighborhood.  It’s just that I thought that it was a good thing not to have the freeways and the Three Sisters Bridge, and a better thing if I could manage to get the subway system funded instead.

Gilbert Hahn Jr.,  The Notebook of an Amateur Politician (2002)




Students protest plans to build a freeway through Glover-Archbold Park. (The American University Talon, 1971)




For more information, see:

A Trip Within The Beltway: About the Roads of Disconnect and Connect Within and Near Washington, D.C.

Harry Jaffe, “The Insane Highway Plan That Would Have Bulldozed DC’s Most Charming Neighborhoods,” Washingtonian, October 21, 2015

( My thanks to Allen Hengst.)




Carlton Fletcher

 The citation and acknowledgement of my research is greatly appreciated.

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