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History

Atlanta’s First Planned Black Suburb

 
 

The Washington Park Neighborhood is the first planned Black suburb in the City of Atlanta. Developed by local businessman Heman Perry, it was a neighborhood that provided families with a high-quality of life through quality affordable homes, quality Black-owned businesses, services, schools, and colleges. Prior to the construction of the park in 1919, there were no recreational parks in Atlanta available to African Americans. At the time, the completed park included a dance hall, pavilion, tennis courts, swings and has served as the anchor of the development of the Historic Westside.

 

The Neighborhood

 
 

The Washington Park Neighborhood is an early suburban community for Atlanta’s black residents. Ashby Street (now Joseph E. Lowery Blvd.) functioned as an early “color line,” or street separating black and white neighborhoods. Many of the homes and civic institutions in the Washington Park community were designed and built by black architects and contractors for the families relocating to the neighborhood. This was during a time when they otherwise had been denied professional licensure, and therefore denied commissions to work in other parts of Atlanta.

As black families continued to settle on the west side of Atlanta, businesses and services migrated to this part of the city form areas such as Sweet Auburn and Old Fourth Ward. By the middle of the 20th century, Washington Park was recognized as a strong and thriving neighborhood for the city’s black middle class. It contained schools, shops, parks medical facilities and professional offices to serve the community.

The legacy of this time is still visible in the buildings and community institutions that seek to keep the history of this community as a living and vibrant testimony to the individuals who came before.

 
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By the middle of the 20th century, Washington Park was recognized as a strong and thriving neighborhood for the city’s black middle class

 
 
 
The Italian stucco home of middleweight champion Theodore “Tiger” Flowers was constructed at 1045 Simpson Road by “Chief” Walter Aiken. The Flowers family moved into the residence in 1926, but only lived there for a short period of time.

The Italian stucco home of middleweight champion Theodore “Tiger” Flowers was constructed at 1045 Simpson Road by “Chief” Walter Aiken. The Flowers family moved into the residence in 1926, but only lived there for a short period of time.

 

The Park

 
 

Washington Park was designated as the first recreational green space in Atlanta for African-Americans in 1919. Located just blocks from Booker T. Washington High School — which opened in 1924 as the first high school in Georgia for African-Americans — the park boasts of 20 acres of sprawling green space.

Amenities of the park include a natatorium, tennis center, playground, baseball field, as well as picnic shelters and grills.

Washington Park since its construction has long been a gathering place for community gatherings and events.

The park sits at the northern end of the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail which once completed, it will connect Washington Park to Enota Park, Gordon-White Park, Murphy Crossing, and Adair Park I, with close proximity to Adair Park II.



 
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Preserving a Legacy

 
 
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The Washington Park Neighborhood has many great assets that have helped maintain its relative stability as compared to its bordering neighborhoods; most notably the presence, dedication and zeal of many of the families that have made the neighborhood a pillar of the Black community.

Additionally, the neighborhood is at the cusp of change. The Atlanta BeltLine, which borders the neighborhood on the west, and the new Atlanta Falcons’ stadium, located less than 1 mile east of the neighborhood, may exert significant development pressures on the neighborhood as they are implemented in the coming years. While these changes may lead to the desired redevelopment and revitalization of certain areas, they may also lead to an influx of new residents that are not aware of the historical significance of the neighborhood.

 

Our Vision for the Future

The Conversancy seeks to maintain and enhance a high quality of life for the Historic Washington Park neighborhood that will continue to attract families to carry on its legacy by:

  • Goal 1: Celebrating the neighborhood’s rich Black history + culture;

  • Goal 2: Providing safe, high-quality and affordable housing + businesses;

  • Goal 3: Providing access to safe, high-quality and diverse parks, recreation, social, and cultural programs and events; and

  • Goal 4: Providing access to safe, high- quality streets, sidewalks, trails, and transit opportunities.

 
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The Conservancy is committed to having Historic Washington Park remain a place of restoration and refuge for its community.

Will you join us?

 
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