Spanning 222 acres in the center of the city, this park was conceived by William G. Hartranft, President of the first Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board. His vision was for a large urban park similar in scale and character to Balboa Park in San Diego and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. With the acquisition of 200 acres from J.W. Dorris and Dr. James C. Norton, the Dorris-Norton Park was established in 1934. The park, comprised of a golf course designed by William P. Bell, a clubhouse, playgrounds, and an archery range, is a picturesque assemblage of palms and deciduous trees organized around meandering lagoons and canals.
Construction of the park, supervised by the Works Progress Administration, extended from 1935 to 1938. The park was updated twenty years later with the addition of a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a softball field. In 1956 two lagoon bridges were added, providing better access to Enchanted Island, a children’s amusement park located on Picnic Island. Renovations on the park’s north side began in 1986 and included revitalizing the lagoon and channel systems, building new restrooms, sidewalks, and a boathouse. In 1984, 100 acres of the park including the golf course, and lagoons were listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District.