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Memphis, TN
History of The Memphis Park Services

In 1901, landscape architect George Kessler created plans for a parkway system like those in Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Overton and Riverside Parks were connected by long, leafy avenues in a formal pattern that preserved green spaces and provided a dominant grid pattern, giving shape to the City's eastward expansion. The parkway system is listed on the National Historic Register and has long been a source of pride among Memphians.

City of Memphis

Memphis Park and Parkway System
Associated with the Progressive era and City Beautiful Movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the development of the Memphis Park and Parkway System laid the foundation for municipal park systems across Tennessee. The Memphis system also represented one of the earliest efforts in the South to introduce basic concepts of modern comprehensive urban planning and design by George E. Kessler (1862-1923), widely regarded as one of the fathers of urban planning in America.

Read More at The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture

Memphis in Black and White by Beverly G. Bond, Janann Sherman
Chapter 8. The Gilded Age of Memphis, pp 77-78

"Landscape architect George Kessler of Kansas City designed a shoplace in Overton Park with winding drives, a large virgin forest, wide grassey meadows, and a lovely pavilion. A golf course was added in 1904."

Memphis in Black and White

Overton Park 1901 Plan

Overton Park 1901 Plan Larger Web Image

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Overton Park Historic District

Overton Park District Waymark

Overton Park Shell
Overton Park is one of the first of several large parks in Memphis designed by landscape architect George Kessler that featured a picturesque landscape design, largely derived from the design traditions of New York City’s Central Park. The planning began in 1901 and the design was completed in early 1902, and initial development of the drives, open areas, lakes, and pavilions were completed by August.

Overton Park Shell