Ellicott Driveway was built on top of the millrace that once carried water to Three Mills operated by the Ellicott Brothers near Frederick Road. In the 1800s, twenty-six gristmills along the Gwynns Falls and others on the Jones Falls and Patapsco River contributed to Baltimore's first economic boom. Besides their Ellicott City mills, the Ellicotts built the Three Mills complex in this area and were partners in the five Calverton Mills upstream at Leon Day Park. The Ellicotts also helped build the Frederick Turnpike so wagons could carry their products to ships at their Inner Harbor wharf.
The Ellicott Driveway was completed by the city in 1917 as the kind of stream valley parkway envisioned by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm in 1904. The diversion dam for the millrace created a dramatic waterfall: "Baltimore's Niagara Falls." In 1930, the Municipal Art Society of Baltimore praised the route, writing:
"so gracefully following the curves of the stream in Gwynn's Falls park [Ellicott Driveway]... adapts itself to the contours of the terrain and... takes full advantage of natural beauty."
Today, the route is closed to cars and trucks and reserves its natural beauty for bicycles and pedestrians along the Gwynns Falls Trail.