This 148-acre park was designed in 1903 by Johannes Reimers for the City of Fresno. Frederick and Marianne Roeding donated the land on which the park was developed, and their son, local nursery-owner and agriculturist George C. Roeding, directed the park’s development into an informal arboretum. Many of the trees were expressly planted as experimental species and cultivars related to Roeding’s agricultural work.
The park is characterized by a sweeping lawn punctuated by informal groupings of mature specimen trees. The land is subtly contoured, shaped out of flat topography through extensive grading. A gently-curving thoroughfare bisects the park, with smaller, radiating secondary roads. Water features include a chain of lily ponds and Lake Washington, located in the southwestern corner of the park.
Initial construction, including the excavation of the ponds and construction of a stepped, linear pergola, was accomplished between 1903 and 1912. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo was established in 1908 as an informal paddock for donated animals. Active recreational facilities were added to the park in the 1920s, and commemorative features, including Lake Washington and a series of memorials, followed into the 1950s. Playland amusement park was erected near the lake in 1955, and Storyland children’s theme park was added in 1962. Despite these many additions to the park over time, it has retained a high level of integrity to its original design.