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Grant Park: Take a tour of an urban oasis
With more than 131 acres, this giant greenspace in southeast Atlanta provides a natural foil to urban living.
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Scenic Grant Park is named after Lemuel P. Grant, who donated the majority of the land to the city. Landscape architect John C. Olmsted created the master plan for the park in 1903. (Photo: Raymond McCrea Jones)

With more than 131 acres, Grant Park is a giant greenspace that provides a natural foil to urban living. It may not be as well-known as its sister parks, but that's OK with the runners, dog-walkers and nature lovers who make the park part of their daily routines.
 
Tucked just south of Interstate-20 in a neighborhood of the same name, Grant Park is Atlanta's oldest surviving park. Railroad engineer Lemuel P. Grant, for whom the park is named, donated 100 acres in 1883. An additional 44 acres were added in 1890, according to the Grant Park Conservancy. The park houses Zoo Atlanta and Atlanta Cyclorama — a Civil War museum that boasts a giant oil painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta — and some of the city's grandest old trees.
 
Get a dose of nature with this virtual stroll through the park:
 
The Azalea basin of Grant Park
The azalea basin in Grant Park. (All photos copyright ©2013 Raymond McCrea Jones)
 
A tree in Grant Park burst into bloom
A tree bursts into bloom.
 
A gnarled tree in the Azalea basin has named carved into it
The roots of a gnarled tree in the azalea basin.
 
A close-up of the names carved into a tree
A closer look shows the tree has a name carved into the bark.
 
Constitution Springs in Grant Park
Constitution Spring is a now-defunct freshwater spring. This tucked-away corner also boasts a dense collection of native plants.
 
A side view of the Atlanta Cyclorama building
A side view of the Cyclorama building, which houses the world's largest oil painting, a depiction of the Battle of Atlanta.
 
The front entrance to the Cyclorama
The front entrance to Cyclorama, which was designed by John Francis Downing. The building was constructed to protect the huge painting, which is 42 feet tall by 358 feet wide and weighs about 9,000 pounds.
 
Trees burst into bloom near the Atlanta Zoo in Grant Park
Redbuds bloom near the entrance of Zoo Atlanta.
 
Park-goers head to to the Zoo Atlanta
Park-goers walk under the generous tree canopy to reach the zoo.
 
A close-up of a blooming tree in the Azalea basin
The native azaleas put on a stunning display in April and early May.
 
More park goers make their way to Zoo Atlanta as trees are in bloom around them
When the trees are in bloom, the park comes alive.
 
The old stone bridge
This old stone bridge near the zoo was installed in the park in the 1890s and once served as a carriage entrance to the park. A stream once ran beneath the bridge and entered Lake Abana.
 
Visitors walk toward the entrance of the Zoo Atlanta
Visitors come from all over the city and beyond. Zoo Atlanta is a big draw to the park, which supporters have dubbed "the peoples' park."
 
A visitor watches a panda in Zoo Atlanta
Five pandas call Zoo Atlanta home, and three of them were born there.
 
An exotic bird sits on a branch in the bird enclosure at Zoo Atlanta
An exotic bird sits on a branch in the bird enclosure at the zoo.
 
Satu, a nine-year-old male Orangutan, looks a visitors in Zoo Atlanta
Satu, a 9-year-old male orangutan, glances at his latest visitors at the zoo.
 
Visitors take a short miniature train ride at the zoo
A miniature train ride gets zoo visitors where they need to go.
 
Zoo-goers feed the farm animals
Zoo-goers feed the farm animals.
 
A chipmunk forages for food just outside of the zoo
Outside the zoo, a squirrel forages for food.
 
Downtown Atlanta is seen through the trees from the top of Fort Walker.
Before the trees leaf out, downtown Atlanta can be seen from the top of Fort Walker, which was part of a line of fortifications created to protect the city during the Civil War. What remains are the tell-tale berm and a historical marker.
 
A plaque commemorates Lemuel Grant who donated the park space in 1883.
A plaque commemorating Fort Walker is all that remains. Also mentioned is Lemuel P. Grant, an engineer who not only designed the fortifications but also donated the land to create the park.
 
Houses line Cherokee Ave. along the west side of the park.
Victorian houses line Cherokee Avenue along the west side of the park.
 
The neglected fountain at the Cherokee Ave. entrance.
The base of the Erskine Memorial Fountain and a wrap-around bench is tucked into a pocket near the Cherokee Avenue entrance to the park.
 
Visitors enjoy the opening day of the Grant Park Farmer's Market for the season on April 21
The newest draw for visitors is the Grant Park Farmers Market, which is open every Sunday from the end of April through mid-December.
 
Chef Kevin Gillespie provides a cooking demonstration during Grant Park Farmer's Market
Chef Kevin Gillespie provides a cooking demonstration during opening day of the farmers market.
 
A tree blooms in Grant Park
A tree blooms in Grant Park.
 
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