The Landscape Architect’s Guide to

Washington, D.C.

Anacostia / Deanwood / Mahaning Heights

Fort Mahan Park

Fort Mahan Park is located in the northeast Washington D.C. and was built in 1861 to defend the Benning Bridge on the Anacostia River during the Civil War. This was part of a 37-mile system of forts that formed a ring of protection around Washington D.C. The fort was named after West Point professor Dennis Hart Mahan, whose published writings guided the design of forts throughout D.C. Today Fort Mahan is part of a network of forts reclaimed as a system of open space parks weaving throughout the city.

Fort Mahan is a round hill with a flat crown and steep slopes on all sides. The elevation changes approximately 80 feet while a winding trail navigates around the forested slopes leading to a large level grass clearing at the top. A series of rifle pits carved into the hillsides provided additional defense for the fort and can still be seen around the site today.

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