Atlanta is often referred to as a city in a forest, and our many parks contribute to the robust tree canopy. It's what separates Atlanta from competitors like Dallas and Phoenix.
But what may come as a surprise is that some of Atlanta's most important parks weren't actually greenspaces until not that long ago. Through the years, some of our city's most important public outdoor spaces have come and gone. For Renovation Week, we check out what some of our most famous parks have looked like through the years.
Atlanta's most famous park, Piedmont, has been a fixture in Midtown for more than a century. The park served as the grounds for the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895, which drew more than 800,000 visitors to the city.
While few lasting vestiges of the park's origins remain — the stone balustrades and stairs to nowhere near the Botanical Garden today are one rare example — the park is a haven for city-dwellers, with fields, lawns, and a gorgeous lake. Host to a range of festivals, the park is often described as the city's backyard.
Today Woodruff Park sits in the heart of downtown, just north of Five Points. But for the first century of the city, the land now filled with trees was crisscrossed by streets and filled with buildings.
Philanthropist Robert Woodruff donated the land to the city in 1971 on the condition of anonymity, resulting in the new space being opened as Central City Park. It was only following Woodruff's death that the park was renamed in his honor.
Centennial Olympic Park
Centennial Olympic Park is arguably one of Atlanta's most important civic and cultural spaces. Surrounded by an array of the city's biggest attractions, the park plays host to concerts, festivals, and countless tourists.
A lasting legacy from the 1996 Olympics, the park is only two decades old, having been constructed on blocks formerly filled with blighted buildings to the west of downtown. But thanks to the park's success, plans are underway to expand and enhance the park, 20 years after it first welcomed the world to the Olympics.
While it is relatively diminutive, Loudermilk Park at Buckhead Triangle has an interesting history. Formed by the confluence of Peachtree and Roswell roads, the wedge-shaped space was, for a long time, occupied by businesses contributing to the bustle of the neighborhood.
The site's importance dates back to the earliest settlers in the area, when it was known as Irbyville. Legend has it a tavern stood where the park now is, which featured a buck's head above the door. Irbyville became Buckhead and the rest is history.