Piedmont Park

Midtown Atlanta, along Piedmont Avenue
Atlanta, GA

Submitted by: alison deshaw

This large and beloved city park, known as "Atlanta’s Common Ground," attracts people from more than 100 zip codes.

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Why It Works

Located in the heart of the city, Piedmont Park is the crown jewel of Atlanta. For nearly 100 years, it has served as the vantage point for observing the city's natural beauty and diverse humanity. Its 189 acres boast a rich history that includes the Cotton States Exposition and the international debut of motion pictures. Celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2004, Piedmont Park is one of the oldest and most beloved parks in the Southeast.

The Park's lush green spaces, scenic paths and athletic fields, Lake Clara Meer, and a new off-leash dog park draw residents of all ages and backgrounds. It is also the site of many annual festivals and events including the Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazzfest and the Peachtree Road Race - the world's largest 10K race.

With more than 2.5 million visitors annually, user traffic of Piedmont Park is comparable to Phillip Arena and Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves. Despite this, the park's beautiful vegetation continues to flourish, thanks to a public-private partnership between the City of Atlanta and Piedmont Park Conservancy (PPC) to maintain and preserve this urban treasure (the Conservancy is nearly halfway through a $25 million restoration, financed largely by private donations).

The park's revitalization has helped in making Midtown once again the place to live, work and play in Atlanta. A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article cited proximity to Piedmont Park as one of the top reasons Midtown is the hottest area for new home-buyers. Long-time Atlantans agree: the recent transformation of Piedmont Park is nothing short of remarkable. Through the work of The Conservancy and its members and supporters, Piedmont Park approaches its Centennial year on the path to revitalization and as the enduring central gathering place of Atlanta.

What Makes Piedmont Park a Great Place?

Newly restored Oak Hill and meadowlands on the 10th Street side of the park entice residents with its century-old trees and lush green grass. On the Piedmont Avenue side, beautiful wrought-iron and granite gates adorn the 12th and 14th Street entryways to offer a grand and welcoming entrance to park visitors. The park’s central location connects new and old Atlanta as well as corporate and residential areas of the city. Recent restoration efforts have dramatically improved the quality of life for surrounding neighborhoods with the Morningside, Ansley Park and Virginia-Highland communities enjoying high property values and new residential developments engulfing the once deserted Midtown area. Frequently credited with revitalizing in-town Atlanta, the rebirth of Piedmont Park has spurred the development of new homes, restaurants and shops, as well as the return of prominent companies to the city’s epicenter. It is unique in that the park is bounded by single and multi family residences as well as the skyscrapers of Midtown. Looking across the newly rehabilitated Meadow and Oak Hill, the great swath of grass and trees ringed by Midtown high-rises is breathtaking.

A large paved pathway system guides park-goers through its many acres, aided by way-finding signage and a staffed visitor’s center. Surrounded by sidewalks on all sides and just two blocks from MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), Piedmont Park offers a glimpse of a walkable Atlanta in a city still largely pedestrian un-friendly. Off-street parking also is available on surrounding streets. Just steps away from the park, one can tour historic Atlanta neighborhoods, enjoy fine food, visit the Woodruff Arts Center or walk the Midtown business district. Surrounding restaurants, bars and shops, which have thrived with the resurgence of Piedmont Park, lend their support to Piedmont Park Conservancy in the form of benefit hostings and donations. Piedmont Park provides much-needed green space for urban dwellers, a central gathering place for Atlantans, and endless hours of family fun.

A signage system introduced in 2003 offers a way-finding map, explains park rules, and has additional space for future interpretive signage (perhaps history or birds and trees).

More than 2.5 million visitors can’t be wrong. Piedmont Park is one of Atlanta’s most comfortable and welcoming places, offering something for everyone. Oak Hill recently was recognized as the third-best "lawn with a view" nationwide (www.toptenlawns.com). Newly restored with a wheelchair-accessible pedestrian path system, it is one of the most popular lounging spots of the park, proving relaxation and green space - for all users - go hand in hand. The renovated Visitors Center overlooks the new dock on Lake Clara Meer, recently restored with a new granite bridge, additional fishing piers, plantings, aeration system and lakeside swings.

The park has come a long way from its dark days in the 70s and 80s when it wasn’t always a safe place to visit. Thanks Piedmont Park Conservancy's restoration efforts, it is again becoming the welcoming green oasis of yesteryear. PPC and the City of Atlanta work together to keep the park safe, clean and beautiful. PPC membership funds 8 landscape professionals and maintenance workers devoted to caretaking of the park, as well as off-duty police officers for park patrols. Today, Piedmont Park is a place women (and men) can visit alone safely.

PPC has made a concentrated effort to introduce new offerings and amenities to meet user needs. For example, The Conservancy created a fenced leashless dog park and supplies dog waste bags around the park; set aside land for a Community Garden to encourage collective planting; and added water fountains, park benches and swings for increased comfort.

Park users come from all areas of Metro Atlanta. A random Georgia State University survey of 400 visitors discovered more than 100 different zip codes represented. People of all races, backgrounds, ages and lifestyles enjoy the park.

Lake Clara Meer is a top draw for fishers and daydreamers alike. Nearby playgrounds, including the revered Noguchi Playscape (created by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi) attract children and families for playful fun. Piedmont Park is also a sought-after location for special events. The Conservancy renovated turn-of-the-century buildings to create several rental facilities for wedding celebrations or other special occasions. The Community Center (once an old and ugly meeting hall) offers enriching programming and amenities including kids’ summer camp, environmental education, a nature center and two popular cafes.

From senior citizens (senior socials) to children (summer camp, environmental education, playgrounds, athletic fields) to young professionals (runners, bikers, rollerbladers, tennis players, etc) to families (picnics, events) to special interest groups (Gay Pride, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Screen on the Green, Peachtree Road Race, AIDS Walk, etc.), Piedmont Park represents the many faces of Atlanta.

Without a doubt, Piedmont Park is the place to be on a beautiful Atlanta day. Swarms of crowds come to relax, socialize, exercise or compete. In fact, local news crews often come to Piedmont Park to film Atlanta at play and photographers abound year round. The park is a top attraction for locals and visitors alike as the variety of events and activities, beautiful surroundings and central location make it a natural gathering place.

Piedmont Park is the best place to observe Atlanta’s diverse humanity firsthand, as children and adults of all different races and backgrounds relax together. The annual events held at Piedmont Park draw large, diverse crowds of people. Additionally, Community Center programming brings people together and the new Community Garden draws a wide range of enthusiasts.

The literary world also recognizes the unique and important role the park has played in Atlanta’s history and progress. Nicknamed "Atlanta’s Common Ground," Piedmont Park represents the new diverse face of the South as seen in Chip Simone’s 1989 book, On Common Ground, which highlighted the park’s diverse usership. A new book will debut in fall 2003, titled, Piedmont Park: Celebrating Atlanta’s Common Ground.

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