Travel

Atlanta's Beltline

As an environmentally conscious family, we are always drawn to innovative ways to make urban living more friendly. Since moving to Atlanta from mountainous Vermont, we were immediately drawn to a project which started as a master’s thesis and has become an economic and environmental victory for the City of Atlanta. The Beltline deemed, “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States” will have 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails,  and 1300 acres of parks. Many of the elements of this project are already underway and a stunning success. The system tightly integrates 45 in-town neighborhoods utilizing transit-oriented development strategies (for anyone that has been to Atlanta, traffic sucks.)

When first looking for a place to live, we were immediately drawn to areas that were close to or on the Beltline (proof that the economic draw of the Beltline is real). Ability to access the trails is a hot commodity. Housing that is near the Beltline is highly sought after, to the point that if you hesitate, even just a little bit, it’s gone! Our favorite area is master-class ofurban renewal. Ponce City Market, is one of the most sought-after areas to live. What is very special about Ponce City Market is that it is a complete transformation of a vacant Sears Roebuck & Co distribution center. What once was empty floors, has become a multi-use development that has built a massive economic engine for a once depressed area of town. Massive lofts, dining, shopping, one of a kind stores and restaurants all abound in what has become one of the best places to spend an afternoon out and about. And did I mention there are carnival rides and games on the roof of the building? Ok, enough gushing over a super cool place to live, work and play. The most exciting part of this LEED certified project is its direct access to the Beltline. Walk up to the third floor and you’ll find the Beltline!

Hundreds of spots to park your bike, tools to tinker and fix that flat, and vendors catering to passers-by, holds just one example of the atmosphere popping up all along the Beltline.  The old station where merchandise was once loaded onto train cars is now a lounging area where you can watch thousands of people, pets, bikes, and scooters fly by.  On our first trip to the Beltline, we started at its furthest most completed section North of Midtown Atlanta.  First, what is impressive is that deep in the heart of a massive American city, is a serene trail of nature which made biking all the more comfortable.  Just like a subway in New York or Metro in DC, people utilizing this Beltline trail system are avoiding bumper to bumper stalled traffic, all while getting exercise, and taking a moment to enjoy the beauty of nature around them.  

Our Schwinn Cruisers were perfect for the gentle slopes, and paved trails.  Everyone on the trail exudes a state of relaxation.  Our family was able to enjoy our trip with our Schwinn Bike Trailer, a healthy snack from Whole Foods and a popsicle from King Of Pops.  After hours on the trail, our three-year-old girls are so hooked that they ask to go “bike ridin” every chance they get.  The system of trails is growing every year and expects to be done by 2030.  What is impressive is that neighboring cities, are working to connect their trails to the Atlanta Beltline to make a more extensive network of pedestrian and bike-friendly trails, linking even more to a healthier, more sustainable mode of transportation and recreation.

For more information about the Atlanta Beltline, visit https://beltline.org/about/the-atlanta-beltline-project/atlanta-beltline-overview/

— Daddy West