Years ago, Atlanta’s inner core was surrounded by a 22-mile long loop of railway. This stretch of track was essential to the industry of the developing city, serving to connect a network of neighborhoods, each of which contributed in their own way to what was, at the time, a post-war boom town.
But times change. As shipping methods evolved in the 20th century, the need for the tracks diminished, and eventually, the loop was abandoned to disrepair.
Then, a Georgia Tech student had an idea: why shouldn’t these old rail lines (or more specifically, the land they occupied) be revived into an intown pedestrian trail? The stretch already ran through some of the city’s coolest neighborhoods, and if executed well, could serve as a point of car-free revitalization. The notion stuck, and over time, the Atlanta BeltLine was born.
Today, the completed portion of the BeltLine connects Inman Park to Midtown, and reception to the project has been overwhelming: business new and old have already reaped the benefits of a new brand of accessibility; artists have used the revitalized paths as venues for displays of public art; and homes located close to the BeltLine have new feathers in their caps. Plans are in place to revitalize the entire trail over the coming years, so it’s a safe bet much more of the city will follow suit.