Save the Greensward

Overton Park was designed by George Kessler in 1901 as a place for people to play, explore, and enjoy the beauty of open fields and ancient forest. For more than a century the 12-acre Greensward has been a peaceful green space in the heart of our park.

In recent years the City of Memphis has allowed the Memphis Zoo to use our historic Greensward as a parking lot on busy days. Our zoo is becoming more popular every year, and so is the rest of our park.

There are a few obvious solutions -- redesigning existing lots to maximize space, running shuttles from satellite parking, encouraging street parking with a circulating shuttle, and building a new parking garage inside the zoo's boundary -- that would end gridlock and restore peace for everyone.

In 2019, newly hired Zoo CEO Jim Dean made promises to local groups and individuals that the Zoo "has no desire or plans to expand into Overton Park or annex any acreage in Overton Park." Now the Zoo is going back on those promises.

Rather than pursue a parking garage or any other solutions that would not harm Overton Park, the Zoo wants to take 2.4 acres of the Greensward from the people of Memphis and turn it into a paved parking lot. This plan would pave 20% of the total Greensward, or more than two football fields of public parkland.

We want the Overton Park Greensward to be a calm green space for everyone, not a chaotic private parking lot for the Zoo. We are sick of watching shortsighted Zoo leaders try to destroy our park. We want the cars and trucks to GET OFF OUR LAWN now and forever.

How Can You Help?

1. SEND FRIENDLY EMAILS to Memphis Zoo CEO Jim Dean and Mayor Jim Strickland and the Memphis City Council. Ask them to do the right thing for our parkland: Commit to solutions that do not harm Overton Park, and ban parking on the Greensward forever.

2. ORDER THE YARD SIGN to show your support and inform your neighbors. Our volunteers will deliver for free!

3. USE OUR GREENSWARD as it's meant to be used. Relax on a blanket, read a book, fly a kite, throw a frisbee, kick a soccer ball, etc., and show the Zoo that they are WRONG to harm this free public gathering space.