It may seem like a no-brainer once it occurs to you, but for a city whose identity is so inseparable from its history, there’s a weird truth: You’re not really going to find anything in Atlanta that predates the 1860s. We all saw Gone with the Wind, after all, and we all remember what happened at the end of act one.
Blending a singular history, tons of green space, and a few surprises, Grant Park has earned its reputation as Atlanta’s premier up-and-comer. But this isn’t necessarily the case in Grant Park. Despite a pretty comprehensive burning campaign by General Sherman, a few homes escaped the torch. One such home belonged to an engineer named Lameul P. Grant. It had only been finished a few years before, in 1858, and the story goes that when Sherman rolled through this yet-unnamed ‘suburb,’ he thought it was pretty, and spared it.
And that’s how Grant Park started. Once the war was over, we assume that Grant (the man) was a bit relieved, so by the 1880s, when things got back to normal, he decided to donate more than 100 acres to the city of Atlanta so a park could be constructed. With a centerpiece in the works, people decided to embrace this ‘suburb’ notion, and in short order, an impressive collection of Victorian homes were lining the streets (Grant Park still contains the highest concentration of Victorian homes in the city).
Today, Grant Park is one of the most recent neighborhoods to benefit from the wave of urban renewal that’s been taking place in Atlanta. After a half-century of declining health, concerned citizens have restored the park to its former glory, and one by one, the homes that made this town so famous a century ago have followed suit. The secret of Grant Park is finally out. Again.
Ample green space
A historic backdrop
A vintage home that may (or may not) need a little bit of fixing up
Being on the ground floor in a booming neighborhood
An investment in a growing neighborhood
Proximity to the city
Easy access to interstates and major surface streets
Walkability to some great restaurants and entertainment options
Grant Park is located just to the southeast of Downtown Atlanta. Though the majority of the neighborhood is located to the south of I-20, a portion of the town extends northward as well, as far as Memorial Drive and Oakland Cemetery.
Many of the homes in Grant Park have been renovated to their original grandeur over the last decade. Still, this is solid an up-and-coming neighborhood, so if you’re looking for a good deal on a fixer-upper with lots of potential (and don’t mind doing a little work), you may be in luck.
You may have heard about something called the Atlanta Cyclorama, a giant tourable mural depicting one of Atlanta’s most important Civil War battles. For reference, the gorgeous historic building that once accommodated this mural still exists; the mural itself, however, has been relocated to Buckhead, a little to the north.
If walkability is a big deal to you, be sure to check out the northern end of Grant Park, around Memorial Drive. Here, you’ll find some really amazing eateries, trendy coffee shops, art galleries, and an incredible nod to history in the form of Oakland Cemetery.
Candler Park is fortunate to be zoned in the same district as a few fine public schools. However, over the past few years, there has been some discussion about zoning this neighborhood more solidly into the Atlanta Public Schools system, which isn’t regarded quite as highly. Suffice to say, do some research if quality of schooling is important. In the meanwhile, here’s a list of nearby schools:
Atlanta Public School System
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (charter)
Parkside Elementary (public)
King Middle (public)
Maynard Jackson High (public)
By and large, the grandest park in this neighborhood (and arguably one of the most heralded in the city—it’s certainly the oldest), is the eponymous Grant Park. To the north (it’s not technically a park, granted), Oakland Cemetery offers opportunities to walk through history, or opt for a tour. Below, a complete list of Grant Park’s parks.
New to Atlanta?
Whether you’ve already slated your move to Atlanta, or are just considering this city as your new home, you’re likely going to be doing a lot of research. Every city has nuances, history, quirks, and jargon that can be confusing for newcomers, and Atlanta is no different. We’ve taken the liberty of providing a few basics with our Atlanta Beginner’s Guide. Check it out, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
For a straight shot to the north, your best bet is going to be Boulevard, which runs along the eastern side of the Park itself. If you’re planning on head east or west, Memorial Drive is the easiest route: it’s located on the northern edge of Grant Park.
There are actually several on and off ramps for I-20 that run through the neighborhood. It’s possible to get to the I75/I-85 connector via 20, but you can also take Boulevard north until you hit the Freedom Parkway onramp, too.
Founded in 1850, this massive, ancient piece of land serves as the final resting place for Atlanta luminaries like Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones, as well as several mayors, Georgia governors, and scores of Confederate soldiers. 248 Oakland Ave. SE, (404) 688-2107, oaklandcemetery.com
One of the oldest zoos in the United States, Zoo Atlanta has become a fixture in revived Grant park, attracting more than 1 million visitors per year. It’s also one of only four zoons in the US that features… wait for it… giant pandas! Squee! 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, (404) 624-5600, zooatlanta.org.
Taking place at the end of August, this annual festival gives attendees two days to see some of the biggest musical acts in the south participate in a 5K run, and sample from a slew of food trucks and beer vendors, all in the city’s oldest park.
It’s casual, it’s lively, the margaritas are amazing, the music doesn’t make you want to scratch your ears off, there’s some awesome seating on the roof, and the tortilla chips are addictive. Bring a friend, or 12. 415 Memorial Dr. SE, (404) 554-8220, tinlizzys.com
Every neighborhood should have a chill coffee shop where the wifi is as strong as the brew. And most do. But with a treatment of coffee that borders on snobbish alchemy, nobody does it quite like these guys. 437 memorial Dr, (404) 815-9886, octanecoffee.come
A little quirky, and utterly laid-back, Ziba’s has some great wine flights, backed up by a globally inspired selection of small and large plates. Hit them up before strolling the park; they’re only a block away. 560 Boulevard SE, (404) 622-4440, zibasbistro.com
Zoo Atlanta’s beginnings are a little quirky. In the late 1800s, a failed circus was facing bankruptcy, when business George V. Gress purchased the animals and donated them to the city of Atlanta. Members of this original menagerie included a black bear, a jaguar, a hyena, monkeys, and a few camels.