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[rotating photos] Images of the Grant Park Historic District including characteristic houses, Grant Park and the Cyclorama Building
National Register photographs by Yen Tang and Jody Cook

The Grant Park Historic District encompasses one of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods. The district includes Grant Park, a 131-acre green space and recreational area, and the residential neighborhoods surrounding it. The majority of the buildings are residential but the district also includes school buildings, churches, neighborhood commercial clusters and recreational buildings. Rambling Victorian era mansions and small cottages, early 20th-century bungalows and many brick paved sidewalks characterize the Grant Park neighborhood. A majority of the buildings were built from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Large two-story mansions face the park, more modest two-story, modified Queen Anne, frame dwellings were constructed on surrounding streets, while one-story Victorian era cottages and Craftsman bungalows predominate in the streets to the east of the park. Grant Park's distinctive landscape includes rolling hills and scenic vistas. The neighborhood's grid street pattern and narrow rectangular lots which developed during the 1890s and early 1900s are representative of Atlanta residential plans of this era. The streets are lined with mature trees and there is an extensive sidewalk system, portions of which retain the original brick. Due to the topography, retaining walls are an important landscape feature.

The district also includes remnants of the home of its earliest settler, Colonel Lemuel P. Grant. Grant came to Atlanta in 1840 to participate in the construction of the Georgia Railroad. During the Civil War, Grant was responsible for the design and construction of a system of defensive fortifications for the city of Atlanta. After the war, Grant's business career expanded, as did his land holdings in the southeast quadrant of the city. In 1883, he carved out about 100 acres of his vast estate for a public park which he donated to the city--the first large city park in Atlanta. The city expanded its boundaries to include the park acreage, and purchased 44 additional acres in 1890. In 1909, the Olmsted Brothers, sons and successors to America's pioneer landscape architect and park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, planned numerous improvements for the park. Though considerable erosion has taken place, their influence is still evident.

Historic postcard of the Cyclorama Building
Courtesy of Jody Cook

Historic postcard of the Cyclorama, depicting the Battle of Atlanta
Courtesy of Tommy Jones

A section of the main line of the Civil War earthen breastworks and a battery known as Fort Walker are preserved in the southeast corner of Grant Park. The Civil War history of the area is also represented by the Cyclorama, a 360-degree detailed panorama painting of the Battle of Atlanta in 1864. The canvas is heavy gauge cotton duck, 358 feet in circumference and 42 feet in height. It weighs 9,000 pounds. Before the painting was started, intensive study of the terrain of the battle site in East Atlanta was done in the summer of 1885 by a group of 10 German artists working for the American Cyclorama Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The artists returned to Milwaukee in the latter part of that year armed with notes, drawings, portraits of commanders on both sides and official maps and papers from the War Department. It was first displayed in Detroit in 1887 then toured major cities of the country until it was purchased by a series of different owners, and finally given to the city of Atlanta in 1897. The marble and granite building that houses it today was constructed in 1921. Between 1934 and 1936, a Works Progress Administration project gave the painting a three-dimensional foreground. Plaster figures, exploded shells, fragments of rails and cross-ties, blasted stumps, simulated grass and bushes, and Georgia clay were added to the base of the canvas. Also within the Cyclorama Building is the Texas, an eight-wheel American type steam locomotive built by Danforth, Cooke, and Company of Patterson, New Jersey and placed in service on the Western and Atlantic Railroad in October 1856. The Texas was made famous as one of the three locomotives that pursued the General, a stolen Confederate locomotive, on April 12, 1862 in what is now known as the Great Locomotive Chase, also known as Andrews's Raid. James J. Andrews, a civilian, and 19 Union soldiers seized the General and three box cars at Big Shanty, now Kennesaw, Georgia, and headed north toward Union lines. Their mission was to destroy the railroad and cut off communications from Atlanta, a major supply point for the Confederacy. The Texas entered the chase north of Big Shanty, ran 51 miles in reverse in pursuit of the locomotive, and towed the damaged General back to Ringgold, Georgia after it was abandoned by Andrews and the Union soldiers. Andrews and seven of his men were hanged by the Confederates as spies. The Texas continued to serve the Confederacy throughout the Civil War, was later renamed the Cincinnati, and from 1890 to 1904 operated on the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. Left neglected for many years, it was moved into the basement of the Cyclorama Building in 1927 and finally restored in 1936 and put on public display.

The Grant Park Historic District is bounded by Glenwood and Atlanta aves. and Kelly and Eloise sts. Walking tours are available at 10:00 am on Sundays from March-November. Visit The Atlanta Preservation Centerfor more information. The Grant Park Neighborhood Association also sponsors periodic tours and events, and another organization, the Grant Park Conservancy, is committed to the preservation, restoration, beautification and maintenance of historic Grant Park. The Cyclorama Building, 800 Cherokee Ave., is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:15am to 4:30pm and there is a charge for admission; call 404-624-1071 for more information.

  [image] E. Van Winkle Gin and Machine Works and link to Industrial Atlanta essay
  [image] Tullie Smith House and link to Antebellum Atlanta essay   [image] African American baseball players of Morris Brown College - Atlanta and link to African American Experience essay   [image] Historic postcard of Fox Theatre Historic District and link to Growth and Preservation essay

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