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View of lake bridge and pavillion
Courtesy of Piedmont Park Conservancy

A roughly triangular-shaped area of 185 acres, Piedmont Park contains several auxiliary structures including the stone Jacobethan Style Piedmont Driving Club, elevated brick bandstand, and round columned domed gazebo. The grounds of this park were originally used in the late 19th century as the driving grounds and racetrack of the Gentleman's Driving Club. In 1895, the site was chosen for a fair, the Cotton States and International Exposition. Influential landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., was consulted during the planning of the Exposition and influenced some elements of its plan, although he was unable to complete the project. Olmsted had always maintained that parks were important moral, as well as physical, influences on the lives of urban dwellers. Careful planning and landscaping of the environment, he believed, could favorably affect the health and welfare of society. The exposition ran for exactly 100 days, opening on September 18, 1895 and closing on December 31, 1895.

Lake and bridge in Piedmont Park
Courtesy of Piedmont Park Conservancy

In 1904, the city of Atlanta purchased the 185 acres for a park and removed the exposition buildings. In 1909, the Olmsted Brothers firm (by then run by Frederick's sons) was hired, and began preparation of a comprehensive plan for the park. Apparently by this point, all of the buildings were gone and the grounds were deteriorated. Only the general outlines and the stone stairways, which had led to the buildings and the lake, remained. The plan, which was submitted the following year, utilized the handsome stone stairways with their tall circular stone urns as access and transition paths between the different levels of the grounds. The plan the brothers created clearly carried out the design ideas of the elder Olmsted. The landscapes and vistas of Piedmont Park, as designed in the early 20th century, largely remain today, and provide much needed green space for the increasingly urbanized neighborhoods surrounding the park. A lake, playground, baseball fields, and acres of grassy hills provide visitors and residents alike a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Piedmont Park is bordered by 10th St., Southern Railway, and Piedmont Rd. It is open to the public 6:00am to 11:00pm daily. For more information visit their website at www.piedmontpark.org/ or call 404-875-7275.

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