WASHINGTON — For many in the D.C. area, Rock Creek Park provides a bit of sylvan solitude in the heart of the city’s hustle and bustle.
But it’s also one of the oldest federal parks in the U.S., and D.C. Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton contends it’s missing a little something from its official name.
Under legislation Holmes Norton introduced Thursday, the sprawling 2,000-acre park would be renamed Rock Creek National Park.
The name change would be largely symbolic. Rock Creek is already owned and managed by the National Park Service. In fact, Rock Creek, which was established in 1890, was one of the first three national parks chartered by the U.S. government after Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
But Holmes Norton said renaming the park “will highlight its significance to the nation.”
In a statement introducing the measure, Holmes Norton said the renaming “will help recognize the national status of the park and protect and revitalize this remarkable resource in our nation’s capital.”
Holmes Norton’s office said the name change could also make it easier to get funding in part by raising the park’s profile in the halls of Congress where federal dollars are doled out.
Holmes Norton introduced a similar measure last year but the full House failed to take it up. The new legislation is expected to be taken up in the House Natural Resources Committee where the congresswoman will make her case for it, spokesman Benjamin Fritsch told WTOP.
The park has acquired several other historic sites in D.C. throughout the years, including the Old Stone House in Georgetown and the Fort Circle Parks.
When land for Rock Creek was first requisitioned in the 1860s, lawmakers originally envisioned it as the site of second, more secluded presidential mansion — with better access to clean water.
At the time, the White House butted up against the “pestilential Washington City Canal,” which “disgorged its wastes … directly below the mansion grounds,” according to the National Park Service’s official history of the park.