Overton Park is a 342 acre park in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. The park and the parkway system that surround it were designed by George Kessler beginning in 1901. Kessler beat out the Olmstead Brothers firm for the job, but his plan for the park was strongly influenced by Frederick Law Olmstead's theories on public spaces. It was meant to be a pastoral place of retreat for city dwellers, a park that used the natural features of the landscape and improved upon them to create an ideal situation for the rejuvenation of its users.
Overton Park was named in 1979 to the National Registry for Historic Places and was named one of ten Parks that changed America on PBS. It is certainly the Crown Jewel of parks for Memphis, Tennessee.
Very quickly other elements were added to the park. A Beaux-Arts mansion was built for an art museum, and the beginning of the zoo was created with a pet bear who was relegated to the park. Today the park houses the Memphis Brooks Museum, the Memphis College of Art, the Memphis Zoo, and the Levitt Shell, a 1936 WPA built band shell that was renovated in 2007 and renamed for the Levitt Foundation. In 2012, the Overton Park Conservancy was formed as a private non-profit to manage the park.