Atlanta’s Piedmont Park is an urban green space between the Virginia Highland and Midtown districts, about a mile northeast of Downtown.
Dr. Benjamin Walker first developed the area as a gentleman’s farm and country retreat. In 1887, he parted ways with the land to the Gentlemen’s Driving Club (later called the Piedmont Driving Club), a group of horse racing enthusiasts. The Atlanta Driving Club agreed to let the Piedmont Exhibition Corporation, led by Charles A. Collier, use the park’s grounds for fairs and expositions, and the park was subsequently named after the Driving Club to Piedmont Park.
In October 1887, Piedmont Park played host to the first of several expositions. The Exposition’s main building measured in at a whopping 570 feet in length, 126 feet in width, and two floors in height. Twenty thousand people showed up there on the first day. During the opening the Exposition, Samuel J. Randall spoke about the revitalized South after the Civil War. Once General Pierce M. B. Young finished speaking, his men began firing cannons to officially kick off the festivities.
Along with the city of Atlanta, the Piedmont Park Conservancy (which is supported by membership dues and donations) works to maintain Piedmont Park as a landmark for all of metro Atlanta’s communities. More than $66 million have been spent on capital upgrades to Piedmont Park by the conservancy since 1989. Currently, the Conservancy needs more than $5 million in annual donations to maintain and improve Piedmont Park and its programs.
Through volunteer efforts, meticulous landscaping, and infrastructure upgrades, the Conservancy enhances the Park’s aesthetic appeal. The Active Oval, EnviroVentures Camp, the pool, the dog parks, the facility rentals, the excursions, the field trips, and the Green Market are all major focal points at the park. When it comes to protecting Piedmont Park and making sure everyone who visits has a good time, the conservancy seeks advice on how to run events and festivals there effectively.
The park has evolved into a community sports hub throughout the years. From 1902 to 1904, the Atlanta Crackers, the city’s first professional baseball club, called the facility home. Several collegiate rivalries, such as the one between the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech in baseball and the one between the University of Georgia and Auburn in football, have their origins in this park. Covered picnic spaces, tennis courts, the Lake Clara Meer dock and visitors center, and two playgrounds are just some of the 20th-century additions to the park.