Although the National Register designation in 2000 halted immediate threats to the historic structures and character of the neighborhood, residents continued to worry about the stability of the community and the loss of visibility of the area’s history. The population of the area had been gradually declining since the 1960s, initiated by both the integration of the city and the destructive actions of building new MARTA lines. In addition, some buildings and infrastructure had not been properly maintained since their construction, and laid in disrepair, and vacant lots and deteriorating infrastructure had become “eyesore[s]” (2015 Washington Park Neighborhood Visioning Plan). The neighborhood was simply not the bright, vibrant community that its older, longtime members vividly remembered.
To combat this trend, community members have advocated for many revitalization plans. The most recent is the Washington Park Neighborhood Visioning Plan, ratified in May 2015. It functions as a guide to improving, redeveloping, and revitalizing the neighborhood. The goals of their vision statement, which are still in place today, are outlined as follows:
- Goal 1: Celebrating the neighborhood’s rich Black history and culture;
- Goal 2: Providing safe, high-quality and affordable housing and 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.
To help with enhancing the community, many events and programs take place during the year, which help bring the community together. Washington Park itself continues to be an important cultural space for the neighborhood. In 2011, the park received a $10,000 grant from Coca-Cola to fund park refurbishments, which allowed the park to improve itself even more. The Conservancy at Historic Washington Park promotes the area’s strong Black history and gives tours of the area, showing off the area’s important cultural sites.
Here are some examples of events that take place in the park, as well as a historical resource published by the Conservancy.
Go check out the Conservancy’s StoryMap, which goes more in depth about Atlanta history before the Civil War!