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ZipUSA: Glen Echo, MD
JULY 2005
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Pop-Up: Glen Echo Park
Pop-Up: Harvard Street
Pop-Up: Ultimate Garden
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ZipUSA: Glen Echo, MD @ National Geographic Magazine
Pop-Ups and Text By Carol Barton
Photographs by Michael Brown
Though its amusement park is long gone, Glen Echo, Maryland, has kept its sense of fun—and its carousel too.

When I first stumbled across the recycled amusement park that lies at the heart of Glen Echo, Maryland, I had no idea my life was about to change. The park attracted thrill seekers from nearby Washington, D.C., and beyond from 1899 until it closed in 1968. By the time I got a job as an arts administrator at the park in 1977, it had reopened under the National Park Service as a budding arts and education center. Artists and actors worked in studios salvaged from the old amusement buildings and often settled in the adjacent town. I soon switched from painting to crafting three-dimensional books and moved into town myself. The pop-up illustrations on these pages are my attempt to capture the quirky charm of the place, where on warm summer days, visitors dance in the old bumper car pavilion or catch a ride on the 84-year-old carousel.
 
Fifteen minutes is all it takes to walk the length of Glen Echo. The zip code counts 242 residents, 35 registered dogs, a host of unregistered cats, 14 streets (named for institutions of higher learning), and an eclectic mix of not-so-big houses with variously tended yards. From my house on Yale Avenue to the post office on Harvard, I pass a trio of life-size sculptures on the porch of artist Raya Bodnarchuk (shown here with her dog, Kelly), who teaches sculpture at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in downtown Washington. 
 
On Bryn Mawr Avenue, Holly Shimizu, executive director of Washington's U.S. Botanic Garden, and her husband, Osamu, at right, have created the ultimate garden, including a Buddha in a bed of moss and a frog-filled pool fed by a waterfall. Glen Echo neighbors often swap garden plants during the spring thinning season.
 
The park's granite tower is the only building that remains intact from Glen Echo's 1891 chautauqua, an education movement that brought people to the area for a summer of lectures and performances. Today a cluster of grass-roofed yurts—leftovers from a canceled world housing exhibit during the Richard Nixon era—provides additional studio space to potters, painters, and jewelry artists. Glen Echo has returned to its roots as a place where people come to dance, dream, and have fun. And you never know what will pop up next.

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