2315 Walden Pond Drive
Toledo, Ohio 43606
Ottawa Park webpage
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About Ottawa Park
In 1892 the city of Toledo purchased 280 acres of land outside the city from John Ketcham. The Ottawa river winds through the park. The river banks rise to three separate levels, and each forms a large meadow. But when the land was purchased, it was largely swampy. By 1897 roads, walks and a trolley line had been installed, and much of the swampy area around the Ottawa river had been drained.
Ottawa Park was based on a Frederick Law Olmstead park design. Olmstead is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. In addition to Ottawa Park, he was famous for designing many well-known urban parks, including Central Park in New York City and Belle Isle Park in the Detroit River for Detroit. He also designed the country’s first and oldest coordinated system of public parks and parkways in Buffalo, New York, as well as the master plans for Stanford and the University of Chicago. Drawing influences from English landscape and gardening, Olmstead designed primarily in the pastoral and picturesque styles, each to achieve a particular effect. The pastoral style featured vast expanses of green with small lakes, trees, and groves and produced a soothing, restorative effect on the viewer.
The golf course was added in 1899.
In 1930 the river was deepened to reduce flooding, and from 1935-1940 the Works Project Administration (WPA) built drainage ditches. The WPA built the amphitheater and dug out Walden Pond (which was named in 1941). The current Parks and Recreation Headquarters was built in 1961, following a fire which destroyed the old one.
The land for Jermain Park was purchased in 1915 (named in his honor that year), through another bond issue. Previously, the area had been an amusement park. The WPA put in tennis courts, two bridges and retaining walls.
The building that now houses the Police Museum was previously the Ottawa Park Nature Center. Constructed in 1927, it is octagonal in shape, made of brick and cut stone with terrazzo floors. The Police Substation was added in 1997.
Ottawa Park contains the two largest forest areas and is a major flyway for songbirds in Toledo. Centennial Grove, a 1300-by-150-foot corridor, a long-term project that connected the park’s two major forested areas and helped restore habitat for migrating songbirds, was started in 1992. Planted were 1000 seedlings and 50 trees each year for 10 years.
A 3.5-mile paved multi-purpose path encircles Ottawa Park. In 2009 it was named the Robert Brundage Bike Path for the late Dr. Brundage, an avid cyclist.
In 1987, an Ohio Historical Marker, recognizing historic Ottawa Park in Toledo, was dedicated.
Ottawa Gate (at left), a 25-foot high 4-ton sculpture of brick and aluminum, was installed in 1994 at the Bancroft and Ottawa Parkway park entrance. Designed by David Black, a Columbus sculptor, he said it is meant to appear “light, airy and bird-like.” Your Park Board, along with the city of Toledo and the Ohio Arts Council, funded the sculpture.
From Ottawa Park webpage