Historic Fourth Ward Park, which lies just south of Ponce City Market, was first conceived in 2003 as a means of detaining storm water to prevent flooding in the Old Fourth Ward area. Then, in 2006, when the city established the Atlanta Beltline, Inc., the company picked up plans for a number of parks around the Beltline, including the plans for the Historic Fourth Ward Park.
In the late 1860s, the area was famous for the Ponce de Leon Springs, which the people believed possessed healing powers. Eventually the Ponce de Leon amusement park was built on the area that would later become the Sears building and the Historic Fourth Ward Park. Then, in 1907, the Ponce de Leon ballpark opened. All of these places were built right on top of the Ponce de Leon Springs, so when the area eventually became a bunch of warehouses and factories, they would flood because they were built on top of a huge natural water reserve.
On Monday, September 19th, I took a 30 minute walk over to the park where I observed its design. The first thing I noticed when arriving at the park was the bowl shape because I had to walk down a couple flights of stairs to get to the center of the park. When I made it to the bottom, there was a huge pond in the center with a fountain spraying up in the middle. The wind sprayed the water back at me, making it hard to take pictures of the fountain. As I walked the perimeter of the park, I noticed that there were even more fountains along the sides, and each fountain poured right into the center pond. There was a line of plants dividing the pond and the perimeter walkway, which I could only assume were to keep people from getting in the pond. As I walked, I started to think about how the things that I was seeing related to the overall purpose of the park. The bowl shape and the pond in the middle were obviously put there to keep rain water trapped to prevent flooding, and the fountains lining the perimeter were there as an entrance for rainwater to get down into the pond.
When I was getting ready to leave, I sat down in a quiet little rock garden and watched as people came, sat down, relaxed, and left. All though the park had a very clear design and purpose, it was clear to me that it meant much more to the people there. It was a place where people could just relax and enjoy nature outside of their normal city lives.