The National Zoological Park: 'City of Refuge' or Zoo?

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Traces the history of zoos as showplaces for exotic species and contrasts this tradition with the impetus for founding the National Zoological Park--to provide a refuge for endangered species from the American West--and the goals of the United States Congress in founding it--to provide a pleasure ground for the residents of Washington, D.C. Discusses the design of an animal refuge park by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted for the first director, William Temple Hornaday, and Secretary Samuel P. Langley, and how second director Frank Baker transformed the NZP into a more traditional zoological garden.


  • Baker, Frank 1841-1918
  • Hornaday, William Temple 1854-1937
  • Langley, S. P (Samuel Pierpont) 1834-1906
  • Olmsted, Frederick Law 1822-1903
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • United States Congress


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article is a portion of a larger study of the history of American zoos undertaken when the author was a fellow in American and Cultural History at the Smithsonian Institution. Seventy footnotes follow the article.

Contained within

Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Conservation and restoration
  • Zoos
  • Endangered ecosystems
  • Secretaries
  • Endangered species


Washington (D.C.)

Physical description

pp. 405-429

Full Record

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