Grant Park (Atlanta)
Grant Park is the oldest city park in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Second in size only to Piedmont Park, Grant Park has two major attractions besides the park itself: Zoo Atlanta, established in 1889 and originally known as the Grant Park Zoo; and the Atlanta Cyclorama, a cyclorama featuring the 1864 Battle of Atlanta from the American Civil War. The park serves over two million visitors per year.
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Grant Park was established in 1882 when Lemuel P. Grant, a successful engineer and businessman, gave the city of Atlanta 100 acres (40 hectares) in the newly-developed "suburb" where he lived. In 1890, the city acquired another 44 acres (17.6 hectares) for the park. In 1903, Olmsted Brothers Landscape Design (run by the sons of Frederick Law Olmstead) was 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 placed on exhibit in the park. The cyclorama would eventually gain its own dedicated building in the park in 1921.
After years of neglect and abuse, in 1996 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.
Grant Park is the site of Atlanta Public Schools cross-country races, occurring every friday throughout the Fall.
Grant Park is also the in-town neighborhood surrounding Grant Park, and is Atlanta's largest historic neighborhood. It includes the 88 acres or 35 hectares of Oakland Cemetery (established 1850), where Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, 25 former mayors of Atlanta, six former governors of Georgia, and many Civil War dead are buried. It also includes the Atlanta Stockade, Fort Walker, and the Grant Mansion for which the area was named. The Grant Park Neighborhood Association represents local residents.
The Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) began as a group of concerned Atlanta residents who recognized the need to protect Grant Park, Atlanta's oldest city park, from the demands of growing use and declining maintenance. During an updated master plan process commissioned by the city of Atlanta Bureau of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs this group realized that the impetus to implement the new plan would come only from concerned citizens. The Conservancy was formed and now works to raise funds to carry out its mission and provide an enjoyable greenspace for families, visitors and residents of nearby neighborhoods.
The Master Plan calls for massive renovations and improvements to the park over the next 20 years. However, there are no current plans in the City of Atlanta Bureau of Parks budget to fund these improvements.
Modeled on other conservancy movements in Atlanta and cities across the country the GPC will work independently and in partnership with the city to fully implement the Master Plan.
The Grant Park Conservancy recognizes the importance of usable, friendly, clean, safe, well-maintained green space in the urban environment and works to provide a public space in which the city can take great pride.
Visit the site at http://www.gpconservancy.org Wikipedia entry from the site, copied and pasted by Grant Park neighborhood resident Michael Beavers.