The Public Park Era (1927-Present)
Recreation and places dedicated to its pursuit were a nation-wide phenomena in the early 20th Century. The shores of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers were dotted with swimming beaches, waterfront amusement parks, and residential summer communities.
The Olmstead Brothers, prominent landscape architects of the early 20th century, included Ft Smallwood in their Baltimore City Park Plan, and in July of 1927, the City of Baltimore acquired the former military installation for use as a public beach and park.
New found prosperity of the 'Roaring Twenties' meant that leisure time was no longer a privilege reserved only for the wealthy and middle classes. Ft Smallwood Park opened its gates in 1929, offering public beaches and recreation space.
Residents of Baltimore City and from rural farms and villages had the means and time to travel by trains, steamships and, in ever-increasing numbers, automobiles, to the sea or mountains in search of rest, relaxation, and fresh air.
Ft Smallwood Park's popularity peaked during the 1940s, following World War II. In the 1950s, the NAACP brought suit in Federal Court, challenging Ft Smallwood's policies of racial segregation, a case that was argued and won by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Attendance
was in steep decline, and the Park fell into disrepair until 2006, when Anne Arundel County incorporated Ft Smallwood into its County Park System.