Gilliam Park is the KNO's first success in greenspace activism and emblematic of the organization’s future course of filling that often empty space between underfunded City government caretaking and a growing customer base of new and old residents increasingly playing outdoors.
When the KNO Environmental Committee began it’s work there in 2002 the park was infested with privet, English ivy, kudzu and other invasive plants. It regularly flooded, was a common site for the abandonment and torching of stolen cars, and saw regular prostitution. The City had abandoned caretaking of the park and there was even an attempt by developers to purchase it for townhome development.
Today’s Gilliam Park is a classic example of a traditional neighborhood focused park. Even without playgrounds, acreage, or playing fields it meets the needs of a great many neighbors seeking a wide range of physical activities away from the home in the public green environment.
1686 Wade Avenue NE, 30317 Block Park
Gilliam Park CARE
- Community garden
- Rain harvesting picnic shelter
- Grills and large picnic tables
- Grove of old growth hardwoods
- PATH trail segment
- Off leash dog facility
The parcels that are today’s Gilliam Park originated with the land lotteries of Cherokee lands seized in the early 1800’s. It passed through several speculators until settled by Kirkwood’s first resident, Jesse Clay Sr., in 1824. After his death in 1872 the land was ultimately acquired by the Atlanta Suburban Land Company.
Starting in 1907 the City of Kirkwood (incorporated in1892) saw a long and at times contentious political and legislative process that ultimately resulted in annexation by the City of Atlanta in 1922. General practice lawyer Rufus Ferdinand Gilliam, a former mayor of Kirkwood, was an active proponent of annexation. He lived at 210 Rogers Street with his wife Elsa and son Edwin.