Legacy and Stewardship

Pershing Park

Washington, D.C. • Completed 1988


M. Paul Friedberg
Oehme, van Sweden & Associates
Wolfgang Oehme
James van Sweden

This 1.8-acre park, named for World War I General John J. Pershing, was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, and opened in 1981. Oehme, van Sweden did the planting design. The focal point is a shallow pool, which the firm transformed into a water garden. The park has suffered from years of diminished maintenance; sidewalks and other hardscape elements are damaged; the fountain is dry and now a proposal to locate a national World War I Memorial on the site could lead to the park’s demolition.


[Pershing Park] is a powerful example of water’s positive effect on the urban environment.  Conceived originally by M. Paul Friedberg, landscape architect, the park is an ingenious three-dimensional composition … The hypnotic sighs and sounds of water cascading over the walls of a great granite box onto steps and into an oversized pool are in startling contrast to the bustle of the city, just steps away.[1]

James van Sweden


Learn More

  • Pennsylvania Avenue, NW between 14th & 15th Streets
    Washington, D.C. 20004

Gardening with Water,  Ornamental Grasses and Process Architecture No. 130. see resources

See What's Out There Profile


[1] James van Sweden, Gardening with Water (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2007), 122.




The Photographers

Volkmar K. Wentzel (German-American, 1915-2006)
Born in Dresden, Germany, Wentzel immigrated to the United States with his family after World War II. He went to work for National Geographic in 1937, starting a long and illustrious career. His notable assignments included early photographs of Nepal and Africa, as well as a two-year photographic survey of India. A longtime resident of Washington, D.C., his images of the city were published as a book, Washington by Night, in 1993.

Brian K. Thomson (American, b. 1963)
After co-founding a successful internet-based business-travel technology company and founding the Ethan James Foundation, Thomson has returned to his original passion for photography. He donates much of his time to documenting historic sites and structures for such programs as the Historic American Buildings Survey and the Historic American Landscapes Survey.