Until the end of World War I this open space along the sandy banks of the St. Johns River was used for picnicking and the occasional baptisms by black church congregations. In 1918, the Jacksonville Rotary Club began a drive to create a memorial to fallen soldiers of the War. Just one year later, the land was purchased by the city, and Florida's only statewide memorial to those who died during World War I was constructed.
Aspiring to create a worthy civic gesture, Ninah M. H. Cummer, the founder of the Jacksonville Garden Club whose own waterfront property (now the site of the Cummer Museum) was located nearby, commissioned the Olmsted Brothers firm to furnish the design. Their simple design of 1922 includes a large, central oval lawn, with ample opportunities to promenade this circuit loop or walk along the water’s edge. The focal point of the park is a bronze statue by Florentine sculptor C. Adrian Pillars that allegorically depicts “the winged figure of youth.” Like the Italian Garden designed by Ellen Shipman in 1931 for Mrs. Cummer, this commission includes many Italianate details surrounding the sculpture’s setting, including brick paving patterns, tree bosquets, balustrades, walls, and jardinaires. The park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.