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A Thump of Atlanta’s Heart

By: Brittany Thompson

ATLANTA – Children laughing, bicycles ringing, barking dogs, cultural languages and the smell of ice cream surrounds you when you visit the Atlanta Beltline. The 22-mile historical trail offers a chance for Atlanta to redefine what it is to be a neighbor, to be a community, to be a region, and to share all that it has to offer. “The Beltline provides many opportunities for different ethnicities to come together to enjoy similar things – eating, drinking, and exercising,” Jennifer Healan said, a local resident that lives in Candler Park.

The Atlanta Beltline is built upon the unused corridors railroad tracks that formerly encircled Atlanta. The Beltline hugs the surrounding in-town neighborhoods and connects a wide range of people throughout the city. “While visiting the Beltline you’ll see interracial couples, LGBTQ+ couples, young professionals of different races, elderly people, students and so much more all in one area – it’s a community,” Kira Demund said, a college student who finds favor in the unique attraction.

“My husband and I love the Atlanta Beltline because it’s a safe place for our kids to enjoy themselves on their bikes and also make friendships with the nearby kids,” Healan said.

According to Atlanta Beltline website, the beauty of the Beltline is that it offers not only modern conveyances and exciting new development, but it is a living, breathing part of our community; not simply a means of getting somewhere, but a destination unto itself.

“The Atlanta Beltline provides a platform for people to experience different foods, look at different art and sometimes if you’re lucky, there is usually somebody playing an instrument like a piano or the drums,” Demund said.

As with any city, culture adds a story to the surrounding area. It adds character and gives it a different meaning. According to Atlanta Beltline website, the steadily advancing attraction is in constant route to upgrading to the next level and strives to bring Atlanta together as a whole.

With tangible progress dating back in the year of 1999, the Atlanta Beltline has flourished over the years, surrounding the area with parks, trails, and houses. The new economic development exemplifies this by connecting 45 in-town neighborhoods. “The Beltline is a network of parks, multi-use trails, and transit tied together by a 22-mile trail around the city,” Ryan Gravel said, the creator of the idea for the Atlanta Beltline and a senior urban planner at Perkins+ Will.

By connecting Atlanta’s neighborhoods with the Beltline, Gravel wants to inspire a new wave of development in the city- one that will inspire builders to develop more of Atlanta’s neighborhoods into urban multi-use communities.

According to the Atlanta Beltline website, two organizations – Atlanta Beltline, Inc. and The Atlanta Beltline Partnership are constantly working on the four open trails that coexist now.

The Atlanta Beltline slogan, “Where Atlanta Comes Together.”

 

“There are so many different things the Beltline offers, which, in turn, brings unity to the city,” Demund says.

“The Beltline cultivates by providing a central place for people to gather and enjoy life together,” Healan said. “You can see many different cultures and people coming together in real time.”

Atlanta is diverse. A lot of attraction coexists in Atlanta and a lot of cultures are mixed within the roots of the busy city. It is a city filled with innovators, hustlers, and entrepreneurs.

“The Beltline provides a ‘journey of gathering’ for people of different cultures, different ages, and backgrounds to come together in a democratic way,” Healan said. “It’s a place for everyone. A place to be active, eat great food and come together with friends and family creating special moments of connection.”

“Diversity plays a big role within the area, giving off the big-city feel,” Demund said. “Because of that, the Atlanta Beltline excels in the aspect of bringing more culture into the surrounding area and recreating a new definition of togetherness.”

According to Suburban Stats, the population demographics for Atlanta, Georgia in 2016 and 2017 calculated that the total population is 420,003, which consist of different ethnicities ranging from the melting pot of generations and people from all around the world.

Change is an ever-present phenomenon. “The Beltline is not the reason for the renewal in the city. It’s a tool for managing that change,” Gravel said.

People are moving back to the cities. According to WSB-TV, The Atlanta Regional Commission predicts that the metro area will grow by 2.5 million people by 2040.

The Impact it has on the Community

“The Atlanta Beltline is a gathering place where people can connect with one another and be exposed to different things, which helps breed more culture,” Healan said. “I love what the Atlanta Beltline has done to our neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods. There’s always a sense of activity and happiness all the time.”

The Beltline could be a welcoming addition to the already recognizable and historic landmarks such as the Coca-Cola Museum and Georgia Aquarium. The Beltline will be the common thread that connects these landmarks to new and emerging destinations for residents and visitors alike, such as the College Football Hall of Fame and the soon to be opened Mercedes Benz stadium for the Atlanta Falcons football team.

“I believe when non-Georgia residents think of Atlanta, they just think of the Coca-Cola factory and the Underground, which are both pretty antiquated, but historical nonetheless, However, the Beltline is a fresh, lively piece of Atlanta that shows how diverse and progressive Atlanta has become,” Demund said.

“What Atlanta has that’s different is the neighborhood planning unit system—a political structure at the grassroots level that allowed the connections of the Beltline and allowed the public to speak,” Gravel said.

Atlanta is the historical mecca of the South and in recent years it has transgressed into a welcoming community for everyone. “People are innovating and changing the way that they live their lives,” Gravel said. “The Beltline is a cultural monument. Things are changing.” (1015)

Contacts & Sources:

 

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2017, from https://beltline.org/(n.d.). Current Population Demographics and Statistics for Georgia by age,

(n.d.). Current Population Demographics and Statistics for Georgia by age, gender, and race. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://suburbanstats.org/population/how-many-people-live-in-georgia

Thomas, K. (2016, April 29). Metro Atlanta expected to grow by 2.5 million people. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/metro-atlanta-expected-to-grow-by-25-million-people/249220307

Jennifer Healan: jehealan@coca-cola.com

Kira Demund: kcdemund1@gmail.com

Ryan Gravel: https://ryangravel.com/talks/

 

 

 

 

 

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