Add One Pratt Park to your personal best of Birmingham list. (8 photos)

Think about the concerts that can be held at One Pratt Park. Is that the Alabama Symphony Orchestra on line one? Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Everyone has their own personal best of Birmingham list, places we all like to show off.

Mine includes, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham Museum of Art, Vulcan Park and Museum, Ruffner Mountain and Railroad Park

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

We are told there is a way to climb to the top of this structure and see Railroad Park.. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

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. 

Before the construction of Railroad Park. Photo courtesy of Railroad Park

Back to the future

One Pratt Park entrance to the community center. Doesn’t it look like Railroad Park? Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

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.

Love the landscaping at One Pratt Park. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

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.

One Pratt Park in Pratt City built in the aftermath of the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now
Now these are “real slides!”. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

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

One Pratt Park in Pratt City built in the aftermath of the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

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.

*When you get a chance, read Lauren Moore’s story about the opening of One Pratt in 2019

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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