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Everyone has their own personal best of Birmingham list, places we all like to show off.
After an impromptu visit last week, I’m adding one more “must see” place to my list for visitors and Birmingham metro residents alike – One Pratt Park in Pratt City.
A Comeback Story
I came upon One Pratt Park with the intention of doing a story about Pratt City’s recovery from the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak that ravaged the Birmingham neighborhood and many other areas across Alabama.
I had not been to Pratt City for about 2 years, so when I came upon the park, I was pleasantly surprised..
Seeing One Pratt Park gave me flashbacks to when I first visited Railroad Park ten years earlier. Both parks are comeback stories. People tend to forget that Railroad Park was a vacant, uninviting 4 block strip of land near the railroad lines that you tried to avoid on your commute downtown. One Pratt Park was resurrected after a devastating F5 tornado.
Back to the future
Entering One Pratt Park, the landscaping, buildings, and park design remind you of Railroad Park. It is no surprise that according to Bhamwiki, the veterans of Railroad Park’s design, TLS Landscape Architecture of Berkeley, California and Macknally Land Design collaborated on One Pratt Park.
Much like Railroad Park, you feel a deep sense of community and pride at One Pratt Park. Perhaps it is the oversized map of the Pratt neighborhood at the entrance of the community building. It might be the spring flowers in bloom along the trail and the rich landscaping that capture you. Or maybe it is the playground with its steep slides.
Though smaller than Railroad Park, they are sister parks.
Councilman John Hilliard
After my visit, I caught up with Birmingham city councilman John Hilliard, whose family has lived in the Pratt City/Ensley area for 124 years. He actually grew up near what is now One Pratt Park, and from the park you can see a home his brother built for his mom.
He summed up the park’s past and future this way.
“I used to pick plums and blackberries where the park is today. There were horses. For me, when I sit in that park, tears rundown my face, because I can remember all the people that were around. I can see the Italian grocery store, the neighbors, families, Antioch Baptist Church, a bustling place. Now to see the park, the change, to see it like the Railroad Park of Downtown, to realize the growth in the area. You see that nature has a way of correcting itself to provide something better. With the aftermath of the tornadoes, I am so blessed to be representing District 9 to add value to the community.
For me it holds deep memories, and now, here I am in a position to help grow the area and make it better. I’m very blessed and fortunate.”
Add to Your Personal List
I highly recommend One Pratt Park to add to your own best of Birmingham List. You will discover a comeback story, fun, fresh air and the spirit of community.