i have lost track of the number of hours i have spent at overton park. between walking and running through the park and shows at the levitt shell, i have spent many an early morning and evening enjoying the space.
located right next to the zoo in the heart of midtown, overton park was very nearly bulldozed in the early 70s for highway construction, but a group of citizens appealed that and the supreme court declared that it couldn’t happen. instead, hundreds of acres of forest were preserved and there are multiple trails – both paved and unpaved – that people can use, in addition to a dog park, a small lake, a playground, a golf course, and other recreational space.
overton park is one of my favorite places to run, especially on an early sunday morning when the city is still half asleep. i’ve also enjoyed picnics on the lawn and walks with friends — it was especially great during the peak of the pandemic last year because the main walking path is wide and allows plenty of space to spread out.
in addition to the forest and trails, overton park is home to the levitt shell. built in the 1930s, the shell is an open-air concert and performance space, with an expansive sloping lawn perfect for sprawling. the shell has a ton of history – including being home to one of elvis’ first live performances – and has undergone a number of renovations and name changes over the years; renamed as the levitt shell at overton park in the early 2000s, it is now home to 50+ free concerts and events in the spring, summer, and fall. attendees bring blankets and lawn chairs and snacks and enjoy performances from local and national artists, and it is always a great time.
there’s a little something for everyone between these two spaces, and i plan on spending as much time as possible there while i am still in memphis.