Piedmont Park is an urban park in Atlanta, Georgia, located about 1 mile (1. 6 km) northeast of Downtown, between the Midtown and Virginia Highland neighborhoods. Originally the land was owned by Dr. Benjamin Walker, who used it as his out-of-town gentleman's farm and residence. He sold the land in 1887 to the Gentlemen's Driving Club (later renamed the Piedmont Driving Club), who wanted to establish an exclusive club and racing ground for horse enthusiasts. The Driving Club entered an agreement with the Piedmont Exposition Company, headed by prominent Atlantan Charles A. Collier, to use the land for fairs and expositions and later gave the park its name.
The park was originally designed by Joseph Forsyth Johnson to host the first of two major expositions held in the park in the late 19th century. The Piedmont Exposition opened in October 1887 to great fanfare. The event was a success and set the stage for the Cotton States and International Exposition which was held in the park seven years later in 1895. Both exhibitions showcased the prosperity of the region that had occurred during and after the Reconstruction period. In the early 20th century, a redesign plan called the Olmsted plan, was begun by the sons of New York Central Park architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. The effort led to the addition of scenic paths in the park and the joining of the park with the Ansley park system.
Over the years, the park has also served as an athletic center for the city. Atlanta's first professional baseball team, the Atlanta Crackers, played in the park from 1902 to 1904. Several important intercollegiate rivalries were also forged in the park including the University of Georgia vs. Georgia Tech baseball rivalry and Georgia versus Auburn football which has been called the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry".
Throughout the 20th century, many improvements have been made in the park, including the addition of covered picnic areas, tennis facilities, the Lake Clara Meer dock and visitors center, and two playgrounds. In 2008, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for a 53-acre (210,000 m2) extension to the park. On April 12, 2011, Mayor Kasim Reed cut the ribbon to open the first phase of a major expansion into the northern third of the park. Additional areas at the far north of the park (near Ansley Mall) are to be developed next.
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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Piedmont Park", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.