The Bowl and Mims Park
Between Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and Thurmond Street NW in the neighborhood of Vine City, there is a flat, sunken green area the locals call 'the Bowl'. Stretching across from Elm Street on the western side to Walnut Street in the east, this vast, empty patch of ground stands as a testament to unprecedented flooding that filled it with dirty sewage water up to 4ft of depth on September 21, 2002. Consequence of heavy rains that night and a faulty sewage system that could not manage the amount of rainfall, the flood rapidly overtook the area, leaving numerous people on the streets (Creative Loafing, 2009). Most of the affected houses were eventually bulldozed and their occupants provided with alternative housing in other parts of the neighborhood. Eleven years after the flood, the Bowl is now covered by green grass and a few trees here and there. If one stands on the crossing of Simpson Street NW and Sunset Boulevard looking down towards the Bowl, one can see the vicinity of Atlanta Downtown's silhouette delineating the contours of a landscape that could be best described as vacant.
There are ambitious plans in the making to restore the Bowl. Mims Park is an initiative to revive a park plan previously designed by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century. Named after Livingstone Mims, Atlanta's mayor from 1901 to 1903, the Mims Park plan is designed to turn the Bowl into a resplendent green space reticulated with meandering pathways and enriched with benches, water fountains and neoclassical statues of historically significant characters. The plan has been engineered by Rodney Mims Cook, a descendant of mayor Mims, whose National Monuments Foundation acts as the main promoter and fundraiser for the future park (NMF.com).
On July 11, 2012, the Atlanta City Council approved the Mims Park plan, estimated to cost up to 55 million dollars (AJC July 16, 2012). Funding for the plan will not affect taxpayers' pockets, as private funds will make up the bulwark of the capital needed for the park's construction. In exchange for the use of the land currently forming the Bowl, the City of Atlanta expects the National Monuments Foundation to provide annual reports that demonstrate progress and tangible results. As of today (November 2013), it seems the National Monuments Foundation is still in search for future investors to cover the parks' estimated costs. In the meantime, the Bowl continues to lie on the lowland of Vine City, covered by green grass and scant trees, faintly marked by a few man-made paths of one foot wide and without benches to sit on, filled with quiet, dreamy vacancy.
The National Monuments Foundation
McWilliams, J. "Atlanta Council Approves Mims Park Proposal." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 16, 2012.
Wheatley, Thomas. "Tough Times in Vine City." Creative Loafing, March 25, 209.