A Walk through Oak Park

Oak Park. Montgomery, Alabama. A great history of the park can be found here. With roots tracing back to 1899, this park is the crown jewel of the Montgomery Parks and Recreation Department. It is without a doubt a landmark of the city and one of the most important parts of the collective civic fabric. It once had a zoo and pools. It was the crux of a major part of the battle to integrate Montgomery.

A really neat 2007 history of the park (which we have not yet read) is here. We may have to go to Capitol Books and get a copy. Looks great.

It boasts a planetarium (which we intend to review later). The City’s website describes the planetarium as such:

Located in Oak Park, the Gayle Planetarium is one of the city’s educational highlights. Jointly operated by Troy University Montgomery and the City of Montgomery Parks and Recreation Department, this intriguing attraction is open Monday thru Thursday 7:30am to 4:30pm, and Friday, 7:30am to 12pm. Public Shows are offered Monday thru Thursday at 3pm and every Sunday at 2pm.

This facility is one of the largest planetariums in the Southeast!

There’s a great postcard of the park from the early 1900s here. It seems unlikely that the city would produce and market a postcard of the park these days. We took a walk through Oak Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in August. Here’s what we saw:

12 responses to “A Walk through Oak Park

  1. “Creepy restrooms” is right! A better adjective might be “nasty.”

    Recently I was talking with one woman who said that when she visits Oak Park, she goes over to Jackson Hospital if she needs a rest room.

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  4. just because this park has not been taken care of is no reason to run it down . when i was a little girl about 7 ,it was beautiful. my dad and i went swimming in the pools.the little shed upon entering was where we stopped after swimming to get a frozen coke in the old glass bottles. a tiny bag of peanuts gave us energy again to ride the bus home. we had little money but we loved to go to the park. we watched the monkeys on the little island…they were so cute …people threw them popcorn and the babies clung to moms back,so tiny and so cute. so you see i have fond memories of those days.why say bad things about something you as a young person know nothing about. be constructive…jcd

  5. J Dyson, we appreciate you sharing your memories of the park. The more we hear stories like yours, the more we wish we could have seen Oak Park in its heyday.

    And you’re right. We’re too young to offer any criticism of anything that happened in the past. The Holocaust? We weren’t even born! Watergate? Guess we can’t say anything about that either. But there’s no getting around the fact that there are, as far as we know, no actual monkeys on Monkey Island these days.

  6. My Grandfather would take me to Oak Park back in the early ’50’s
    and I loved it. He bought me peanuts to feed the elephant and
    we would watch the fish in the pond. There were large white
    bench swings that we would swing on together. It was a beautiful
    park and I’ll never forget it beauty.

  7. Oak Park is a wonderful park, just getting old with out much needed love.Yet
    so many have wonderful childhood memories of this park.Monkey’s deer, fish
    an a gator.The fence still surrounds the property the wonderful arch gateway entrance, the trees much larger and camellias that are full of beautystill growing.The Bibilcal garden’s keeper no longer alive to tend the plants, so it is not as it once was.Hope ahead….a large group in town are working to make changes.The hope of Montgomery Botanical Gardens coming to the space is being worked on.The park over 100 years old should be preserved and Mary Ann Neeley has been contacted to work on this.Everybody could and would enjoy a gardens.Let us hope the powers that be can join on this project.Bring back to life this old love, allow it to shine and grow a collection of plants for children to learn from, and others to enjoy.Contact the city and express your interest…..

  8. Thank you for these comments Ethel. Reviving Oak Park is doable. I visited today. I am ready to go to work.

  9. Bring back the Merry Go Round!

  10. I worked in Oak Park from April 1991 till October 2011. What people do not see or appreciate is the hard work it takes to keep it up, but there are well over 200 other parks in montgomery that the city maintains as well. No there are no zoo animals left at the park, but ducks,turtles,fish. The zoo was moved back in the 70’s to North montgomery. I guess there isn’t a tree in Oak Park I hadn’t trimmed around. And the plants you see, are maintained daily.

  11. I remember the park in it’s heyday. It was great in the 1940’s and 1950’s when I grew up in Montgomery. The beautiful azaleas, animals, pool, playground, picnic tables, even a pool for small children. I went to birthday parties there. I am looking forward to the Botanical Gardens. Has it been started? When will it be finished? Thanks for the memories.

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