I am blessed! I live two blocks from the oldest park in Atlanta, Grant Park. Not only is it the oldest, but it is fourth largest, behind Piedmont, Freedom and Chastain Parks. The park is over 130 acres and while it may not be a wooded, wild wonderland like Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, it has miles of paved walking and jogging paths and is closed to vehicular traffic. Full of wonderful old trees, shaded paths and walkways, you can find a brief respite from city life. The park was established in 1882 when Lemuel P. Grant gave the city 100 acres. Later in 1890, the city acquired another 44 acres but due to residential and road expansion, the park size decreased to its current size.
This peaceful natural oasis in the middle of the city was designed by the Olmstead Brothers, sons of the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead who designed Central Park in New York City. The park has such a rich history, evident in the architecture and stone work throughout the park. The entrance on Cherokee boasts a beautiful fountain, which fell into disrepair over time but has since been rejuvenated by the Grant Park Conservancy. The Conservancy is committed to the restoration, beautification and maintenance of historic Grant Park.
On the Cherokee Avenue side of the park, you will find the Lion Bridge, a fine example of late 19th century park architecture. The bridge was originally over a spring that has been rerouted. Constitution Spring, also diverted, once flowed at a rate of 10,000 gpd.
The Southeastern corner of the park has historical significance. Known as Fort Walker, a Civil War redoubt, built by Confederate forces during the siege of Atlanta is one of the few remaining fortifications in Atlanta from that period. While some of the original markers and cannons have been removed or stolen, still visible are three elevated platforms that have stone pathways leading up to them, presumably to more easily transport the cannonballs to them.
In addition to the historical architecture, Grant Park has many modern accoutrements for family fun. These include a recreation center and pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer field, baseball diamond, a children’s playground with a multitude of slides, swings and junglegyms, and last but not least, an area dog park. Dotted throughout the park you can find picnic tables, gazebos, and beautiful grassy, shaded areas for gathering and sitting.
Also included in part of the park is Zoo Atlanta which has recently undergone some major renovation and expansion and the former Atlanta Cyclorama, which was moved to the Atlanta History Center, not detailed in this article.
The park hosts a number of festivals throughout the year and the Grant Park Farmers Market on Sundays from 9 am to 1pm at the Cherokee Avenue entrance in the spring and summer. Due to COVID-19, the Grant Park Farmers Market is being held at the Beacon ATL / Eventide Brewing and most Spring Festivals and event have been cancelled.
When you in the mood for a walk or bike ride, go by Grant Park. You’ll be glad you did!
*Photos and videos by Jane Lomas