Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
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.)
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.