Lake Ella

Lake Ella information

Tallahassee , USA
E off N Monroe St to the S of W Tharpe St
admission free
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Part of Tallahassee life for well over a century, Lake Ella, east off N Monroe St to the south of W Tharpe St, is a much-loved urban park that's great for a run or blade, or picnic.

Originally known as Bull's Pond, in the 19th century this sylvan, spring-fed pool was renamed by planter Jabez Bull for his daughter. It has long been a swimming hole, baptismal site and picnic spot. It was here, in 1867, that more than 2000 newly freed slaves celebrated Emancipation Day.

The roaring '20s saw Lake Ella become a holidaymaker's playground. In 1924 Gilbert Sewell Chandler built the Lakeside Motel (the cottages still line the east shore today, housing boutiques and craft shops), and in 1929 the American Legion Hall Claude Sauls Post No 13 went up on the north side. The hall was a social center during WWII, and still hosts community events today. In 1982 the Department of Natural Resources paid for picnic facilities, parking and landscaping. Park supporters EC Allen and his wife donated a high-spurting floating fountain, and streetlights were put up around the two-third of a mile perimeter.

Alongside a monument given to the city by the French government in appreciation for its role during WWII is a Vietnam Memorial, with a Huey UH-1 Helicopter in front. The most moving monuments, however, are the dozens of memorial plaques and plantings that rim the lake, evoking the ghosts of those who once enjoyed Lake Ella and now are gone.

The past is everywhere as you walk around the lake. But so is the present - Lake Ella is constantly in use, with a Grower's market held here every Wednesday between 15:00 and 18:00, and the wonderful Black Dog Cafe, a community coffee house and home away from home for musicians, artists, writers and poets.

Sometimes rainstorms combine with the high water table here, causing flooding that covers the trail. No one is deterred, however, and you'll still see the lovers of Lake Ella as they walk around their pond, umbrellas bobbing in the rain.