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Lincoln Park

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“... a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” ‒ Abraham Lincoln

This park’s origins go back to the city's first professional urban plan created by noted landscape architect W. H. Dunn. The plan called for a boulevard encircling the edge of the city dotted with parks and lined with trees. Anchoring the boulevard in each quadrant were large city parks for recreation. The city council approved the plan in 1909 and park commissioner Will H. Clark put it into action. We still have all four of the original big parks - Woodson Park (Southwest), Trosper Park (Southeast), Will Rogers Park (Northwest), and this one, Lincoln Park.

When the land for this park was purchased in 1909, it was by far the largest park in the city’s history. The sprawling 744 acres originally called Northeast Park encompassed numerous homesteads and would have been unrecognizable to us today. One observer said, “For those who come to the park with the preconceived notion of Oklahoma as the country of the plains, there is little unbroken plain about it. It is rough. There are hills and valleys and plains and plateaus and streams all set under green growth.”  Ninety-acre Northeast Lake was the first development in the park. There is an elevated road over the dam today, but the original design featured a spillway that sent streams of water over the roadway for cars to wade through.

A few years after the park opened streetcars brought thousands of visitors from the city. Over several decades the park transformed into the playground we know it as today. In the 1920s the first golf course was landscaped and the Zoo was built on the north end after being relocated from Wheeler Park. The lake was a popular spot for fishing and in the coldest winters people ice skated on its surface. As you explore the park, you will spot some of the best examples of WPA architecture in the city – the amphitheater, the picnic grounds east of the lake, and the old lake bathhouse which is now home of the Zoozeum. You can also still see a National Park Service-inspired sign at the west entrance to the park. In later years, some of the park land became home to the many museums in the Adventure District.

The south part of the park below NE 36 was used for charitable homes like the county girls’ farm and the Union Soldiers Home, a retirement home for veterans of the Civil War. It was these old soldiers who gave the park the name we know today when they petitioned the city council to name it in honor of President Abraham Lincoln. The home is still standing a few blocks south of the golf course and if you would like to honor those men who fought to save the Union, you can visit the nearby Union Soldiers Cemetery.