Last Updated on March 3, 2022
Atlanta has a new park, Westside Park, that recently opened, and it is gorgeous! At 280 acres, it is now Atlanta’s largest green space, even larger than the popular Piedmont Park. It brings more walking and bike trails to an ever-growing metropolis.
But what makes Westside Park unique? The park is at the site of the former Bellwood Quarry. What once was a massive pit is now an emergency water reservoir for Atlanta, enough to provide drinking water for thirty days! This is a considerable improvement since the original number of days for emergency water was only three days. You can see the reservoir yourself as a walking path takes you partially around it.
I went to visit Westside Park two weekends after it opened. It was crowded since a lot of people were checking out the newest addition to Atlanta. Of course, I took my camera in hopes of getting some film images, and the park did not disappoint!
Overall, I am impressed with the design and care that went into the park’s plans. Below are some takeaways from my visit, along with pictures of what you can expect to see when you go.
Location, Hours, and Parking
Since the park is so new, my iPhone had a hard time locating it when I said, “Hey Siri, get me directions to Westside Park.” The first directions took us near the park, but down the wrong street.
Luckily this time, it didn’t drop us in some random neighborhood that was nowhere near our intended destination. It has done that before, and we laugh about it now.
We tried again with the GPS, and it took us to one of the park entrances. The address that we ended up with (which took us to one of the parking lots) was 1660 Johnson Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. There are also other areas to park along Johnson Road if you continue further down.
And there is plenty of free parking, and I have to say I love free parking in a city.
The park is also free to visit and is open daily from 6 am to 11 pm.
Fun Facts About Westside Park in Atlanta
You might have seen the park without even knowing it. The quarry was in The Hunger Games and the television series The Walking Dead and Stranger Things. When I see the quarry, I immediately think of the intense scene in Stranger Things when Eleven saves Mike from the long fall off the cliff. The reservoir is massive and deep!
Speaking of massive, the Westside Resovoir is 35.5 acres and can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water. It might be hard to believe this with the water now in the giant hole, but you can fit the Statue of Liberty or the Mercedes Benz Stadium within the quarry! And no, you cannot swim in the reservoir or do any water activities.
While the park is open now to the public, the construction is still ongoing. Future sections of the park will be revealed later, and I am excited to see them. It will eventually connect neighborhoods and to the Atlanta Beltine – which is the loop that connects downtown Atlanta with other parks and communities.
Amenities Inside the Park
Westside Park has plenty of walking and biking trails and green space for outdoor activities and picnics. There are ADA accessible trails that include a path that leads to the overlook.
We saw several people playing frisbee, running up and down the hills, walking with strollers and their dogs, and a group of people doing some planks.
There are playgrounds for your little ones, picnic benches, public restrooms, water fountains, and water stations for your dogs. The park is very dog friendly, but you have to remember to keep your dog on a leash. And there are some sections of the park that dogs cannot go on (for example, the playgrounds).
Also located throughout Westside Park are maps indicating your location and other points of interest within the park. I recommend taking a photo of the map, but there are multiple maps located throughout the park if you need to use them later for reference.
A Glance Inside the Park
The park design and layout are well thought out, and it is awesome how Atlanta uses the space around the reservoir to build a much-needed park. It is just one of many changes in my home city, and I love to see the continued growth.
The best part of Westside Park is the overlook. You can see the entire reservoir with the skyline of Atlanta in the background. It was a bit hazy on the day we went, but I could make out a few of the skyscrapers. There is a slight incline to get to the overlook.
Now, it doesn’t provide a lovely skyline picture of Atlanta compared to Piedmont Park, but the overlook is still nice – there is even a man-made “waterfall” where the water dumps out into the reservoir.
I want to come back here in the fall to get some fall foliage pictures, especially at the overlook. The trees around the reservoir will be spectacular once they start to change to the lovely hues of yellow, orange, and red.
The park embraces architecture and art – specifically the Entrance Gateway and the Birth of Atlanta art display. The Entrance Gateway is unique and reminds me of a person’s ribcage, but it represents the skeleton of a mythical creature.
And for me, the Entrance Gateway evokes a sense of wonder, not something you would typically see in a park. It definitely grabs your attention as soon as you enter or walk by it. We had to walk a little ways from where we parked to see this entrance, but it was well worth the detour.
Keeping with the mythical theme, the Birth of Atlanta symbolizes the phoenix, a Greek mythological bird emerging from ashes.
Atlanta was founded in 1837, but if you are familiar with the history of the Battle of Atlanta in 1864, you will know that much of Atlanta was burnt to the ground in General William Sherman’s March to the Sea. Hence, the “phoenix rising from the ashes” symbolizes the reconstruction era and the city’s rebuilding.
Of course, I love taking images of anything art and architectural-related, so I took quite a few photos of the Entrance Gateway and Birth of Atlanta. And I love the look.
It was almost noon on a Saturday in August when I finished taking pictures – let’s just say I made it quickly back to my car for the air conditioning as it was scorching outside. I will definitely be back in the near future.
Have you been to the new Westside Park? If so, what are your thoughts? Please comment below!
A Note on My Film
Minus the image of the film canister below, all pictures in this post are shot on film, Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak ColorPlus 200 to be exact. It was my first time using Kodak ColorPlus, and I am in love. The Kodak ColorPlus gave my images a contrasty pop in colors, and I like its tones. The day we went, it was a bit hazy and cloudy, but I think the images came out decent given the conditions.
I accidentally overexposed by two stops on my camera, so my images were initially too bright, but nothing the lab cannot fix. Color negative film is a bit more forgiving in overexposing versus underexposing an image.
Plus, I got a pleasant little surprise when I opened the Kodak ColorPlus 200 box for the first time. I love the new “vintage” look of the temporary film canisters that Kodak is using. Can you please keep these, Kodak?
When I got these developed at the lab, I made sure to get the canister back. I am thinking about making it into some sort of art project or decor in the future. Hmmmm…