For my paper, I am investigating Inman Park, particularly the way in which it is heavily protected and preserved by residents as well as historical societies. I thought it only made sense to explore some other parks in Atlanta. Thus, my blogs will be a comparison of two very different parks, in two very different neighborhoods of Atlanta. The first is Mozley Park, located in West Atlanta off of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. The park was built in the early 20th century (around 1920) when the land was donated by Dr. Hiram Mozley. It was intended to give the residents of the West side of Atlanta a recreational facility. Visiting the park now, it seems neglected and almost abandoned.
Knowing that there is a significant population living on the West side of the city, I was perplexed about why this park looks like it hasn’t been renovated or improved since the 70’s. Being one of the older parks in Atlanta, I would have thought more efforts to preserve it would be in place. The more I walked around the neighborhood, the more I realized that the reason for this neglect was probably due to the large African American and ethnic population living there, and the substandard condition of the homes around. Much like the “grossly substandard” dwellings lived in by ethnic groups in LA during the zoot suiter’s time, (The Power of the Zoot, page 24) the neighborhood is full of houses that are rundown or apartments that look like they should be condemned. If the homes are in this condition, who has time to care about the park?
Walking around the neighborhood and through the park I saw the living example of the ways in which the HOLC and other housing organizations are discriminatory.(Lecture, Dr. Youngs, 9-22-2011) It seemed as though, if categorized, all the homes in the neighborhood would have been “red-lined”. This means no re-financing, no loans, and no improvements.From a city-data website, I discovered that the Mozley Park neighborhood is about 92% African American with an average income of approximately $40,000. If this isn’t a clear example of white flight and then the neglect of previously white neighborhoods, I don’t know what is.
The park itself looks more like an empty field than a public place that is supposed to be used for recreation. There are events that take place at the park every week or so, but on the beautiful Saturday afternoon when I took these pictures, I saw only three people, a bum wrapped in a blanket, and a few squirrels.
In The Power of the Zoot, the author claims that zoot body style and culture was a challenge to the status quo and to the systematic oppression seen daily by ethnic groups. He also says that they challenged normal uses of public spaces, particularly the dance hall. Public places such as Mozley Park and other barely used parks throughout the Atlanta area (there are 348, 226 of which the Parks Dept. maintains (www.atlantaga.gov)), are begging for a public space renewal. There is plenty of space, people just need a reason to use it.
Alvarez, Luis. 2008. The power of the zoot : youth culture and resistance during World War II / Luis Alvarez. Berkeley : University of California Press, c2008
Dr. Larry Youngs -Lecture