Piedmont Park: Atlanta's Central Park

Piedmont Park, Atlanta's largest and most-visited green space, is located in the Midtown area of Atlanta. It is convenient to many other Midtown Atlanta attractions, including the Woodruff Arts Center, the Ferst Center for the Arts, Atlantic Station and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, to which it is adjacent. It is minutes from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, has a train station several blocks away, and several bus lines serve the park. A new, "green'' parking deck provides ample parking.

Piedmont Park's 185 acres were originally the driving and racing grounds for the Gentlemen's Driving Club. The Piedmont Exposition Company used the grounds to hold three expositions, the most famous of which was the Cotton States & International Exposition of 1895, essentially a world's fair, which was created to introduce the "new Atlanta,'' its culture and its products to the world. The Driving Club tried periodically to sell the acreage to the City of Atlanta, finally succeeding in 1904. In 1909, the city hired as landscape architects the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York, to transform the space into a premier urban green space.

In the 100 years or so since its design, Piedmont Park has seen periods of improvement and decline. By the 1970s, its structures were dilapidated and the park was known more as a place not to go at night than a place to recreate by day. In 1992, the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a private group, formed a public-private partnership with the City of Atlanta to restore and maintain the park. The Conservancy has diligently worked to renovate the park and its infrastructure and maintain security and safety.

Today, Piedmont Park is truly the central park of the city. Features of the park include:

A variety of recreational facilities, including walking and jogging trails, ball fields and courts, an aquatic center, playgrounds and cycling and skating pathways

Ample grilling and picnic facilities

Three fishing piers around the 11-acre lake, which is stocked with fish

Three event spaces, including the new Greystone, a 9,000-square-foot green building with state-of-the-art catering and audio/visual facilities

A wide variety of educational, environmental and historical programs for all ages, including a weekly farmer's market and summer day camps

Several of Atlanta's major festivals, including the Dogwood Festival, the Atlanta Arts Festival, the Atlanta Jazz Festival and Pride (festivals were held in other locations in 2008 because of the drought, but as of this writing, all of them have been moved back to Piedmont Park)

Reviewers on popular travel websites love Piedmont Park. Whether it's for a walk with your loved one, going out to play Frisbee or just lying in the grass, both residents and visitors to Atlanta are enamored of the green space. Visitors often forget they are in the middle of a large city. One person said of the scenery, "I can't decide what is prettier - Piedmont Park in autumn with its foliage or Piedmont Park in springtime with gorgeous flowers blooming.'' This reviewer sums it up, saying, "On a nice day, why do you need to go anywhere else?''

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