Since its founding in 1891, Glen Echo Park has undergone many transformations. The park initially served as a site for the National Chautauqua Assembly, which was an American cultural and education movement popular at the turn of the 20th century. But after rumors spread that mosquitoes were transmitting malaria in the area, the Chautauqua closed up shop in 1898 and the site was transformed into an amusement park that operated until 1968.
During that seven-year period, Glen Echo was home to seven different roller coasters. The remaining structures from the park, such as the arcade and the "Cuddle Up" teacup ride remind visitors of the art deco architecture popular in the area in the 1930s. Not much else is original: The Crystal Pool had been filled in and is covered in trees and brush, but the impressive gateway entrance remains. Still, new layers of paint and other restorations have kept the appearance of these standing structures fresh.
The park is also known for its custom wood-carved Dentzel Carousel that has been restored to its 1921 state and still operates on a limited schedule.
During the era of the trolley car in Maryland, Glen Echo Park was the last stop on the line, serving as a popular destination for post-work family leisure. A trolley car from the era remains out front underneath the neon Glen Echo sign.