Grant Park is a 131-acre green space and recreational area and is the fourth-largest park in the city, behind Chastain Park, Freedom Park and Piedmont Park. Zoo Atlanta, established in 1889 and originally known as the Grant Park Zoo, is located in the park and attracts more than 1 million visitors annually.
Grant Park was established in 1882 when Lemuel P. Grant, a successful engineer and businessman, gave the city of Atlanta 100 acres (40 ha) in the newly developed “suburb” where he lived. In 1890, the city acquired another 44 acres (18 ha) for the park and appointed its first park commissioner, Sidney Root. In 1903, the Olmsted Brothers (sons of Frederick Law Olmsted) were hired to create a plan for the park. The original park included a lake, named Lake Abana, to handle storm-water runoff.
A failed circus gave birth to the eventual Zoo Atlanta when local lumber merchant George Gress purchased animals from the circus and donated them to the city in 1889. The city decided Grant Park was the best location for the zoo and carved space out for the attraction. Later zoo expansions and parking requirements caused the removal of a portion of the lake. In 1892, the circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta was exhibited in the park. The cyclorama would eventually gain its own dedicated building in the park in 1921.
In 1996, after years of neglect and abuse, the City of Atlanta Parks Bureau commissioned a new master plan for the park. The consultants working on the plan met with a citizen advisory group that would eventually become the Grant Park Conservancy. The Conservancy works to raise funds to enhance and protect the park for the enjoyment of all its visitors.