Life in Church Street Park

    An essay in photojournalism

    (Photo by John Partipilo for the Tennessee Lookout)
    (Photo by John Partipilo for the Tennessee Lookout)

    Church Street Park, a pocket park on downtown Nashville’s Church Street, has long been a gathering spot for the area’s homeless. It’s across the street from Nashville Public Library, where homeless individuals can access bathrooms and computers and easily accessible by bus for those who have fare money.

    Recently, the park seems more crowded than usual. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Tennessee and shut downs began in March, even some homeless facilities locked their doors: Those that weren’t already admitted were out of luck, unless they wanted to go to a city-run facility at Fairgrounds Nashville, a couple of miles from downtown.

    With the library closed, portable toilets have been installed for use at the park.

    In June, Nashville Metro Council approved a $500,000 plan from Mayor John Cooper to renovate the park as part of a celebration commemorating passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

    With the redevelopment of the park due to start any day and with it the anticipated eviction of the homeless, photojournalist John Partipilo spent a portion of Friday afternoon photographing park denizens sleeping, feeding dogs and accepting meals from non-profit organizations.