The Atlanta BeltLine is so much more than just trails, and our parks are true gems along the city’s “emerald necklace.” We hope our “Park of the Month” series will help you find greenspaces on the Atlanta BeltLine that you haven’t discovered yet, and maybe even show you something new about your favorite parks! May’s Park of the Month is Washington Park, so read on to learn a little bit about this history-rich area.
Washington Park is situated in a historic neighborhood also named Washington Park. In 1919, the park was designated as the first recreational greenspace in Atlanta for African-Americans, and is just blocks from Booker T. Washington High School, which was opened in 1924 as the first high school in Georgia for African-Americans. The establishment of the school coincided with a period of growth in African-American neighborhoods in southwest Atlanta. Washington High has some notable alumni, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The building itself, on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Atlanta-born architect Eugene C. Wachendorff, and additions have been made to the original four-story building over time. Washington Park is also close to the Atlanta University Center, a group of schools with significance in African-American history that includes Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse College.
Washington Park, the greenspace, is a 20-acre park that sits at the northern end of the first phase of the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail, now under construction. The park boasts a playground, a baseball field, tennis courts, and a natatorium, as well as picnic shelters and grills. When completed, the 3-mile Westside Trail will connect Washington Park to Enota Park, Gordon-White Park, Murphy Crossing, and Adair Park I, with close proximity to Adair Park II, bringing the total park acreage connected by the Westside Trail to 66.
The park has long been a gathering place for community gatherings and events, and hosted the first Atlanta BeltLine Jamboree fundraiser in May 2015. The Jamboree featured food, games, and a Jazz Festival concert hosted by Councilmember Ivory Young. See more photos of the Jamboree in our gallery, and stay tuned for other ways to explore one of Atlanta’s most historic parks.