Eco-Fabulous Explored on Beltline Tour | Arts & Culture
The Atlanta Beltline project is a diverse 2.8 billion project to renovate neighborhoods, parks and commercial space for an area of the city that will be connected by town-car (incorporating old railroad tracks). The project incorporates nature and neighborhood's existing materials to create a neighborhood that's "eco-fabulous", as our tour guide called it. Brian Leary, the brain behind this project was a college student who was inspired by a similar plan in Paris.
Every Friday and Saturday at 9:30AM, the Atlanta Beltline hosts a free three hour tour along this beltline that highlights the circle that the town cars will transit. Currently, this Beltline tour is reserved for the next year but I was lucky enough to find a seat, due to a cancellation.
I didn't know what to expect on these tours. When I signed up I had never imagined the tour would take three hours out of my Saturday. To my delight, the time went by fast and I did not regret attending.
If you plan on taking this tour, the bus was well air-conditioned and seats are comfortable.
The tour guide was very knowledgeable and was able to keep a packed bus of adults' attention for three hours straight (the average adult attention span is 15-20 minutes).
Our tour guide began promptly at 9:30AM and we stayed in the lot and watched an introductory video. We finally rolled out at around 9:50AM.
We started on the trail going south, crossing under a heavily painted, tiny bridge.
"Atlanta's urban art gallery", as the guide called it. This was a symbol of what was to come and a real sign of what the Beltline project is all about. The city is incorporating old and new neighborhoods and embracing the history of these neighborhoods. Along the tour, we saw a lot of graffiti but not all of it was unplanned. Many of the bridges were purposely painted to represent a neighborhoods transition from past to present and were left untouched by street graffiti artists.
Through an empty field and tiny, abandoned, rickety houses with black windows, we would emerge upon a new development of multi-level condos or a trendy, grassy field of an urban park. For example, Stanton Park, located between highway 75 and Hank Arron DR SE, was a multi-million dollar project to transform a hazardous site to a bright-spot for the neighborhood. Solar panels are used to provide natural energy to the park. At any point, we could turn our heads and see just about anything. These are called transition neighborhoods.
The tour also receives exclusive access to Bellwood Quarry, a huge area gated off from the public just northwest of Knight Park. Bellwood Quarry is a large reservoir with stone siding and water at its bottom. Surrounded by trees, the opening looks like prehistoric land from Jurassic Park. In fact, "The Walking Dead" TV show has shot here along with the movie Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah.
The Beltline tour is intriguing because as many of the projects are completed, the areas close to them remain untouched. This is also a good tour for anyone interested in Atlanta's history and possibly seeing areas you didn't even know existed. It is always refreshing to see your city through different eyes.