In the late 1980's, the King Street Task Force was formed to guide development in the area surrounding the King Street Metro Station. Included in the discussions was the development of a 15,000 square-foot triangular plot of land adjacent to the Metro Station. Two goals were established for the land: to create a park of national significance that would provide a respite in the only public space in the area's high-density urban environment; and to design a work of public art that would incorporate Alexandria's distinct historical significance, integrating public art and creating a memorable civic image in a fluid urban landscape.
In 1989, the King Street Task Force, the Alexandria Park and Recreation Commission, the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities, and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts joined in a partnership to create the King Street Gardens Committee which administered a national competition for the park, and established a fund-raising plan for project.
In May 1990, a design team from Seattle, Washington, won the national competition. Town meetings and workshops were held to gather community input and to refine the proposal. In June 1991, City Council endorsed the design.
The winning King Street Gardens Park design received the largest available Art in Public Places grant award from both the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Additional fund-raising opportunities included the “Buy the Brick" program which generated 2,500 brick orders and the Naming and General Support Opportunities program. The King Street Gardens Committee also approached local foundations, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Federal Government through a grant application program.
The King Street Gardens Park design received citations from the American Institute of Architects, Seattle Chapter, Seattle, Washington, in 1991 and the Northern Virginia Chapter Award of Excellence in 1992. Also in 1992, the Smithsonian Institution's Traveling Exhibition Service included the King Street Gardens Park design as part of the "Fragile Ecologies" exhibit that traveled to ten cities nationwide. In Spring 1993, two invitational presentations on the King Street Gardens project were held at the Harvard University School of Design. In the fall of 1994, an invitational presentation about the King Street Gardens project was held at the Tate Gallery, London, England.
The Park was dedicated October 4, 1997.