|From Atlanta Beltline Tour|
I used to regret not getting into the city much, both personally and for the purposes of this blog. I’ll admit it—I like outside the perimeter in the burbs and I like it. To me the city is strange. Not because of any discomfort with the world an urban environment creates, I’ve actually never lived in a suburb until moving to Greater Atlanta. Rather it always seemed like the things people loved about this city were contrived, over-priced, and somehow fabricated. What makes a city great, at least in my opinion, is the quality of the neighborhoods, which grow organically, rather than some architect drafting some sort of Disneyworld for grown-ups with too much money to spend it too wisely. I’ll admit I didn’t even know there were neighborhoods in Atlanta until I took the Atlanta Beltline Tour, and met folks who passionately lived, worked, and cared for their little corners of the metropolis.
But I digress, the Atlanta Beltline is a long term project, crafted from the mind of a Georgia Tech graduate student Ryan Gravel before the turn of the Century. The idea is basically to connect stretches of unused or limited use railway to create a loop around the heart of the city. That loop would provide an alternative transportation option to the city dweller (or visitor like myself) to get around town. In addition, the new flowing of people should create an economic resurgence to areas throughout the city, some of which are in desperate need. To aid in reaching this goal, project will add 40% more parks and greenspaces, including a 33 mile walking and bicycling path, which is what initially caught my attention. You can find maps of the project here.
The tour itself is priced right at no cost, sponsored by the Atlanta Beltline Partnership, and meets at the Inman Park/Reynoldstown Marta Stationon Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30 am. The website says reservations are required, but that when we went there were several open seats and walkups are allowed on a space available basis. The bus tour takes you through the neighborhoods that will be impacted by the railway and makes for a bit of a trek through urban Atlanta blight, as some of the pictures will testify, and it also runs through some more prestigious Buckhead locations. There are two grand highlights of the trip: a stop at the Old Fourth Ward Park and a stop at the Bellwood Quarry. On the day we went (Dec 2010), unfortunately for us, the park was not yet open and tour bus departed without out the keys to the quarry, but don’t let that deter you. I look forward to seeing them both one day. I just finished watching “The Walking Dead” on AMC, and it gave me insight into what I missed. You can also see nice photos of the quarry here.
So if you are looking for a free thing to do and want to catch a glimpse of the future of Atlanta, sidle up to the reservation website and claim your seat. They book up kind of quickly with Saturdays filling up before Fridays, so I wanted to post this early this year.