Pierre L’Enfant included Lincoln Park, originally named Lincoln Square, in his original 1791 plan for the District of Columbia, intending it for public use. L’Enfant planned it to be the point from which all distances in North America would be measured, although it was not ultimately utilized for this purpose.
Situated one mile directly east of the United States Capitol and four blocks northeast of Eastern Market and the Park is maintained by the National Park Service.
Lincoln Park was initially used as a dump. During the Civil War, it was used as the site of Lincoln Hospital and was among the places Walt Whitman visited for his work as a nurse during the Civil War. In 1867, Congress authorized the grounds to be called Lincoln Square as a memorial to the former president; it was the first public site to bear his name.
The park features two important sculptures: Thomas Ball’s 1876 Freedman’s Memorial to Abraham Lincoln (Emancipation Monument), one of the first memorials in Washington honoring Abraham Lincoln and Robert Berk’s 1974 Mary McLeod Bethune (African American educator and activist), Memorial.
The eastern end of the park includes two separate, enclosed play areas for young children and the grassy perimeter and central turf area are popular with neighborhood dogs and their owners.