Authorized in 1937, it was not built until 1943-44, when it was considered an important transportation route to a major military airfield. Suitland Parkway exemplifies the type of defense highway advocated by Franklin Roosevelt, and it is also associated with key figures in the development of parkway design, Gilmore D. Clarke and Jay Downer. It was a new type of road combining parkway principles with the freeway efficiency of the German autobahn. Direct and high-speed, it also retained the parkway’s contoured layout and camouflage of plantings—considered more impervious to air attack than a straight open highway. After the war, Suitland Parkway was transferred to the National Park Service, and as the customary entryway for foreign dignitaries, it has given many their first glimpse of the nation’s capital. It has also hosted both triumphal and mournful processions of public officials, from presidents returning after diplomatic missions to the funeral cortege of President John F. Kennedy. The parkway was incomplete at the end of the war, and a segment in Maryland remains only two lanes. About three of the total nine miles of roadway are located in the District.
National Register: June 2, 1995