One of the highest points in the city is now open as public greenspace

Two acres of wooded greenspace that have been fenced off since the 1996 Olympic Games are now back open to the public, offering views of the growing Midtown skyline and Atlanta’s water reservoirs in northwest Atlanta.

At the corner of 17th Street and Howell Mill Road, “The Hill at Waterworks” is one of the highest points in the city. Mayor Andre Dickens and other city officials were on hand to celebrate the reopening of the space during an event Tuesday morning. Instead of a cutting a ribbon, an oak tree was planted.

The effort was borne out of a grassroots group of nearby residents who have pushed for over five years to open up the hill, with support from the Upper Westside Improvement District and, eventually, the city’s Department of Watershed Management, which determined it could still safely maintain operations after pushing the fences closer to the water.

Credit: J.D. Capelouto/

Credit: J.D. Capelouto/

“It’s time for residents and businesses here to enjoy this reclaimed greenspace,” Dickens said. “I think it will become a destination for all of us at some point.”

In 1996, in preparation for the Olympics, the city installed the chain-link fences that surround the reservoirs, which are part of the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant.

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Residents in nearby neighborhoods, including Berkeley Park, Blandtown and Underwood Hills, have long pushed for more park space in the formerly industrial area. The new space is currently home to several large trees and a few chairs — next, the improvement district is hoping to install a sculpture and benches. And the city could use bond or transportation tax dollars to install sidewalks along 17th Street to make the hill more accessible.