Grant Park is both one of Atlanta's largest green spaces and its largest historic district. It is located about one mile east of downtown Atlanta. Interstate 20 runs through the middle of the neighborhood, but it can also be reached easily from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector. Zoo Atlanta and the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum are located in the 131-acre "park'' part of Grant Park, and the neighborhood is close to all of Atlanta's downtown attractions, including Turner Field, Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center and the Georgia Aquarium. The area is served by several bus lines.
Grant Park is one of the most historic areas of the city. It was named for Lemuel P. Grant, a civil engineer known as the "Father of Atlanta'' for his role in bringing the railroad to Atlanta. Grant lived in a mansion in the middle of a huge estate, most of which he eventually donated to the city. Part of his estate became Grant Park, Atlanta's first public park. An earthen breastwork from a Civil War fort remains in the park today. The remains of Lemuel Grant's 1858 mansion still survive; the home is now owned by the Atlanta Preservation Center and is being restored.
During the 1890s, the area surrounding the park was developed as one of Atlanta's early suburbs. Victorian and Craftsman-style homes fill the neighborhood, which flourished until the 1960s, when Interstate 20 was built, bisecting Grant Park. The highway disrupted the growth of the area, which went into decline. In the late 1970s, "urban pioneers'' began to return, restoring homes and breathing new life into Grant Park, a process which continues today. The area was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Some of the attractions and features of Grant Park include:
Grant Park itself. The 131-acre park is one of Atlanta's most beautiful green spaces, with walking paths among rolling hills and graceful, old trees, as well as a new playground, pool and baseball/soccer field.
Zoo Atlanta. Atlanta's Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals, including a family of pandas and a new, interactive parakeet habitat.
The Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum. The Cyclorama is a 42-foot-high, 358-foot-long "painting in the round'' depicting the Civil War Battle of Atlanta.
Oakland Cemetery. Atlanta's most historic cemetery is one of the most underrated attractions in the city, featuring beautiful monuments and some of Atlanta's most prominent citizens from the last 150 years.
Grant Park is still a neighborhood in transition. Twenty years ago, it was crime-ridden and blighted, with businesses and homeowners struggling to hang on. Now it is an eclectic, diverse area with the occasional trendy restaurant, new business development and ongoing restoration of older homes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that "a host of casual eateries and lively pubs that appeal to the neighborhood's young families have fostered the rejuvenation of the community.'' The Grant Park Summer Shade Festival in late August offers live music on three stages, a 5K run, an artist's market and "Corks and Forks,'' which features the food of local chefs and wine tastings. Every September brings the Tour of Homes, which showcases not only the area's lovely historic homes, but new construction that fits Grant Park's innovative yet respectful take on its long history.