City of College Park
— Anacostia Trails Heritage Area —
College Park was incorporated by referendum in 1945. However, the city's origin goes back much further. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, College Park began to emerge from farmland both as a transportation hub and as a center for education. First stagecoaches and then automobiles traveled the turnpike between Baltimore and Washington. College Park was also accessible by rail, which was a popular way to visit Maryland's new Agricultural College, which later became the University of Maryland.
Turnpike roads were the nation's first highways serving travelers in horse-drawn vehicles. In 1813, the first turnpike company in Maryland was chartered to construct a link between Baltimore and Washington. The original Baltimore-Washington Turnpike, now US Route 1, is College Park's main north-south corridor. Travelers along the Turnpike were served by inns and roadhouses, among them the Rossborough Inn. Built in 1804, it was the first stage stop after leaving Washington. Among the Inn's distinguished visitors were Generals George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette. Today, the Rossborough Inn is part of the University of Maryland.
Just after the turn of the century, the streetcar line, which is now Rhode Island Avenue and the Trolley Trail, was extended through College Park to Laurel. The land along the route was gradually bought up and subdivided into new residential suburbs, opening up new business opportunities.
The city's history coincides with a chapter of American aviation history; the College Park Airport is the world's oldest continuously operating airport. In 1909, US Army Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm, on the lookout for open and level areas, identified a field on the east side of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad tracks that appeared to be ideal for a flight training school for the Army Signal Corps. This was the beginning of several aviation milestones, including the first woman passenger to fly in an airplane, the first military officer to fly a government airplane, and the first mile-high flight.
William White stands in front of White's Store, located at US Route 1 and College Avenue. When the building was torn down around 1938 to make way for a new shopping center (photo below), White's Store moved across College Avenue to what is now the Maryland Book Exchange.
This 1944 view of the Art Deco shopping center includes the building (at the photo's left) that White's Store moved to after construction of the shopping center.
Wilbur Wright, seated in the government's first military plane, the Wright Military Flyer, instructs Lt. Frederic Humphreys in October 1909, Wright came to the College Park Airfield to train Humphreys and Lt. Frank Lahm to fly it.
The Calvert Store and Post Office, located at the corner of Calvert Road and Bowdoin Avenue, across from what is now the College Park/University of Maryland Metro station was operated by Charles Calvert who sold groceries and other sundry items. The current post office on Calvert Road stands on the same site.