When Atlantans old and new started to reconsider the virtues of suburban living, they turned their sights to the core of the city itself. Urban renewal is a catchphrase with which many of us are familiar, but for Atlanta, the application of that idea first took root in Kirkwood.
There’s a sensibility for potential in Kirkwood—there always has been. It was a quality that people saw more than a decade ago, when the storefronts brightened on the main drag, and when long-forgotten homes, in need of some serious TLC and elbow grease, were restored to their original glory. Today, that potential has translated into something a bit more personal. It’s pride.
The people who live in Kirkwood are a close-knit bunch—families, couples, singles, you name it—unified by the common knowledge that they played a part in making their historic community, held together by a brick-lined commercial district, lush green spaces, and historic Victorian- and Craftsman-style homes, special. The long-time residents love to talk about how the rest of the city around them evolved, and how their neighborhood is where the Renaissance started.
An affordable, historic home (that doesn’t require a lot of work)
A location close to the center of the city and to major roads
Restaurants and entertainment options within walking distance
Deep roots in Atlanta’s history
Diverse neighbors from all walks of life
A private school option for the kids—the public schools around Kirkwood are, unfortunately, not rated very well. (but getting better by the year!)
Kirkwood is what’s referred to as a ‘close-in’ neighborhood. Nestled between major arteries like DeKalb Avenue, Memorial Drive and I-20, it’s not too hard to get from point A to point B, and at a distance of only four miles from Downtown and Midtown, the amenities of the big city remain close.
History buffs like to spend time in Kirkwood. The area predates the Civil War by decades, and several markers line the streets, detailing the major events that took place during the Battle of Atlanta. Otherwise, this part of town was home to some of Atlanta’s most prominent figures of the last two centuries.
Kirkwood is pretty self-contained, but people from all over Atlanta love to visit, especially on the weekends to poke around Hosea L. Williams Drive, where the bulk of the neighborhood’s restaurants, shops, and entertainment options are found.
Sure, Kirkwood is close to the middle of a major city. But pack the golf clubs: The Charlie Yates Golf Course is only a few block to the south, and a lot of Kirkwood residents are members.
For all of Kirkwood’s virtues, it’s not very well known for its public school system. Private options exist, and are increasingly utilized by Intown inhabitants, but for reference, here is a list of nearby schools that serve the neighborhood.
City of Atlanta Public School District
Fred A. Toomer Elementary (public)
East Lake Elementary (public)
Coan Middle (public)
Crim High (public)
Henry W. Grady High School
Drew Charter (public)
While trees line the streets of Kirkwood, there are some green spaces too, ranging from tiny, intimate squares, to the larger Bessie Branham Park, located just a couple of blocks from Kirkwood’s commercial center.
Bessie Branham Park
Kirkwood Urban Forest and Community Garden
New to Atlanta?
Whether you’ve already slated your move to Atlanta, or are just considering this city as your new home, you’re likely going to be doing a lot of research. Every city has nuances, history, quirks, and jargon that can be confusing for newcomers, and Atlanta is no different. We’ve taken the liberty of providing a few basics with our Atlanta Beginner’s Guide. Check it out, and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.
Access is one of the strongest reasons for Kirkwood’s success. DeKalb Avenue lines the northern edge of the neighborhood, while Memorial Drive and I-20 straddle the south. Both roads lead east, terminating in Downtown Atlanta at the Connector.
The I-75/I-85 Connector is located about four miles to the east, while I-20 bucks up against the southwestern corner of the neighborhood.
Your best bet to get a MARTA train is going to be the East Lake station, located at the northeast corner of the community on DeKalb Avenue.
The neighborhood’s signature event takes place during the first warm days of the year, when residents and visitors enjoy a tour of homes, along with local food, an artists’ market, and live music.
Every summer, the local businesses in Kirkwood throw open their doors for the Wine Stroll, where attendees flock from shop to shop, tasting global vintages and getting to know each other.
The Kirkwood Historic District is on the National Register of Historic places; with almost 2000 contributing resources, this qualifies it as the largest historic district in the state.
Light on the frills, but not on the flavor, Anna’s has some of the best pulled pork in the city, served in a friendly atmosphere. 1976 Hosea L Williams Dr. NE, (404) 963-6976, annasbbq.com
A favorite for locals to lunch, this quaint market and café bakes fresh pastries and breads, and is famous for its paninis. 1984 Hosea L. Williams Dr. NE, (404) 371-9888, lepetitmarche.net
Capably prepared Mexican staples are served alongside margarita pitchers on the sprawling patio of this neighborhood staple. If there’s a place to bring the whole gang, this is it. 1950 Hosea L. Williams Dr. NE, (678) 705-9902, elmyriachi.com
Kirkwood gets it name from its two founders. Kirkpatrick and Dunwoody are two names you’re going to hear a lot in Atlanta, and since these two families owned most of the land on which Kirkwood was founded, they decided to do the 19th century equivalent of the trendy restaurant thing, and opt for a fun portmanteau.