David Antis/flickr

It’s really just a very, very deep puddle.

When I was little, I swam in a man-made pond in our neighborhood. It was dug into the corner of a grassy park, but despite the pastoral surroundings, it looked really unnatural. The whole thing was painted inky black; you could never see the bottom. It freaked out my mom, who grew up swimming in clear lakes where you could see your toes (and any nibbling fish swimming towards them).

She’d really hate Nashville.

The city is home to a number of man-made lakes, including at least 10 built by the Army Corps of Engineers. (In fact, almost all of the lakes in the state are man-made, created by erecting dams.) But one lake is weirder than the rest—and that’s because it was never supposed to exist.

Lake Palmer sprung up accidentally, as Atlas Obscura recently reported. The 2- or 3-acre site was slated to be the future home of residential and commercial towers, and a deep foundation dig began. The towers turned out to be a no-go. Then, the site was going to host the headquarters for a health care company. That didn’t happen, either. No biggie: Construction halts all the time. The problem? The giant hole remained. And it began to fill up with rainwater—a lot of rainwater. (Atlas Obscura estimates that the unintentional waterbody is about 50 or 60 feet deep.)

(Google Maps)

The hole was dug in 2007, and the “lake” been languishing so long that Google Maps even notes it as a water feature of the city. (It’s that swath of blue above.)

Sadly, locals can’t frolic in Lake Palmer, named for the developer* whose dashed plans created the hole. (Ooh, harsh.) But the weird gaping chasm in the middle of town doesn’t seem to bother residents too much. J.R. Lind, a local reporter, told Atlas Obscura:

“It’s just something that we sort of shrug our shoulders at, and we deal with. The construction has stalled again, and we’re entering our wet season. So I guess it’ll just fill up.”

For now, it’s a quirky oddity with hilarious similarities to Pawnee’s Sullivan Street Pit, the site of Leslie Knope’s obsessive, seemingly doomed park project on Parks and Recreation.

CORRECTION: Alex Palmer was the developer of the project, not the architect. This post has been updated.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  3. a map of the Mayan Train route in Mexico
    Environment

    Mexico’s ‘Mayan Train’ Is Bound for Controversy

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s signature rail project would link cities and tourist sites in the Yucatan with rural areas and rainforests.

  4. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  5. A photo of a design maquette for the Obama Presidential Center planned for Jackson Park and designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
    Design

    Why the Case Against the Obama Presidential Center Is So Important

    A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Chicago preservationists can proceed, dealing a blow to Barack Obama's plans to build his library in Jackson Park.