Living Intown: The Atlanta BeltLine

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Living Intown:
The Atlanta BeltLine

Sponsored by AT&T

For decades, railroads laid the track for the future loop. We take an in-depth look at the pre-history of the BeltLine.

Learn how a former Georgia Tech student’s vision transforms Atlanta’s landscape.

An Atlanta BeltLine user’s guide.

The city-spanning project’s must-see attractions — this year.

Captivated homebuyers seek entry to life along the trails.

Foot traffic drives commerce to restaurants and more.

Landscape architects choose hardy plants to soften the view.

Training for a marathon reveals more exercise options on the way.

Artists across mediums turn the city into an al fresco gallery.

The Lantern Parade and other activities take a new route.

Stitching together a patchwork of dozens of communities

Anticipating the timetable for trails to come

Test your knowledge of familiar (and not-so-familiar) landmarks along the trail

A look at a few more local path-based projects.


Earlier this year, Living Intown magazine was nominated for a fancy international award. (We took third place.)
That’s why a Tuesday in May found me walking along the streets of Manhattan. I embarked from the crowded, aromatic nexus of Times Square, where there seems to be an unspoken game of “chicken” between cars and pedestrians at every corner.
It was quite a relief to make my way to the High Line, a new New York attraction, and enjoy the city’s architecture from a story or two above street level. Built on an unused, elevated spur of the New York Central Railroad, the High Line linear park winds for 1.45 miles from a southern corner of Hell’s Kitchen through Chelsea to the meatpacking district. Walking past gardens and sunbathers reclining on wooden benches, I could soak up views of skyscrapers like the distant Chrysler Building, as well as ones almost within arm’s reach.

The High Line strikes me as just the kind of feature that New York really needs, by literally rising above its annoyances to put the city in a better light. It occasionally gets compared to the Atlanta BeltLine — they’re both former rail lines turned into public paths that peaceably bring people together. But the BeltLine is a project on a very different scale — and is just the thing that 21st century Atlanta needs.

As this special issue discusses in detail, the Atlanta BeltLine will use miles of unused rail to create a network of paths and parks that links communities and creates opportunities for housing, commerce, transit and leisure. It’s gotten a lot of love almost since its conception, although it won’t single-handedly rescue Atlanta from all of its urban challenges.

But, in a city defined by metropolitan sprawl that all but confines generations of Atlantans to their cars, the BeltLine offers not just a nice place to visit, but a fresh way of thinking about our surroundings. Only a fraction of the plan has been realized so far, but the finished trails have already had an outsized impact on how Atlantans enjoy the city. The trails allow us to commune with art, nature and each other; connect to our communities; and simply move about in the open air, without being enclosed by windshields.

Living Intown magazine has gravitated to the BeltLine since David Landis’ sculpture “Northern White” was on our first cover two years ago. We hope this special edition of Living Intown can do justice to the BeltLine’s ever-changing complexity and at least some of the many people devoted to it. This issue is meant to provide a helpful guide to navigating the BeltLine, offer insightful background details and provide the next best thing to being there. Plus, you can find more video, maps and other content at

Finally, I’ll point out that the Atlanta BeltLine allows dogs and bicycles — unlike the High Line.
So that’s one thing we’ve got over New York.

Curt Holman


TRAY BUTLER is a freelance writer and illustrator, and the author of the city guidebook “Moon Atlanta.” He teaches creative writing at Emory Continuing Education and lives in Ansley Park.

H.M. CAULEY, an Atlanta-based freelance writer, has written about the local scene for more than 20 years. Most of her work has appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but she has also produced three city guidebooks and written for national magazines.

JENNI GIRTMAN, Living Intown photographer, has more than 15 years of professional experience, including eight years on staff with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and contributions to The New York Times and USA Today.

JOSH GREEN is the editor of Curbed Atlanta and a regular contributor to Atlanta Magazine, and has written for such publications as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Creative Loafing and the Los Angeles Review. His first fiction book, “Dirtyville Rhapsodies,” was named a “Best Book for the Beach” by Men’s Health magazine in 2013.

GWYN HERBEIN is a native of Knoxville, Tenn., and has lived in Atlanta for the past five years. Formerly the editor of KNOWAtlanta magazine, she is a full-time freelance writer whose work has appeared in Bespoke and Sea Island Life magazines. An Emory graduate, she lives in Midtown with her husband, daughter, dog and cat.

ANDY JOHNSTON co-owns Fast Copy Communications with his wife, Lori. A regular contributor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and former sports editor, he has settled with his wife near Athens but fondly remembers their first apartment on Ponce de Leon.

BOB TOWNSEND has been writing about beer and food for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for more than a decade. Since moving to Atlanta in 1986, he’s lived in Midtown, Grant Park, Poncey-Highland and Cabbagetown. He’s the editor of Southern Brew News, a bimonthly beer publication.

MURIEL VEGA, an Atlanta-based writer, has written for Creative Loafing, Jezebel magazine and Newcomer magazine, among others. She currently co-edits a local arts magazine, and spends time eating her way across Buford Highway and exploring the city’s arts scene.

A. SCOTT WALTON has lived in Atlanta for 20 years. After a six-year stint at the Detroit Free Press, he spent 15 years on staff at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been a guest editor and contributor for The Atlantan, an executive editor at the weekly Atlanta Voice and a contributor to online news outlets.

JON WATERHOUSE has worked in journalism for more than two decades and been a regular contributor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the past 10 years. He has written for such publications as Esquire and BlackBook, as well as He lives in Decatur with his family.