Lessons learned - and observations - from the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail

On seeing the butts of buildings, affordable housing, and more


  • Joeff Davis
  • Mayor Kasim Reed and other officials unveiled the $12 million trail on Monday

On Monday, about 200 civic leaders, politicians, and residents gathered under gray skies to officially dedicate the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail, the 2.25-mile path that snakes between Piedmont Park and Inman Park and stitches together some of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.

The late morning ceremony was more of a formality — the $12 million project has been under heavy use for several months now, a sign that Atlantans were ready for a new way to move around northeast Atlanta, which is close to cementing its reputation as one of the city’s most bustling areas. Since 2005, Beltline officials say, more than $775 million in private investment has been pumped into the area within one-half mile of the trail.

The path is arguably the most tangible part of the $2.8 billion project that proposes encircling Atlanta’s urban core with a loop of parks, trails, and transit. Yes, Beltline trail segments can be found in southwest Atlanta and northwest Atlanta, but those paths flirt with the project, running along its edges and occasionally above the former railroad corridor that forms the Beltline’s 22-mile spine.

When you ride a bike on the Eastside Trail, you're practically covering the same ground where trains used to transport goods and even circus elephants. More importantly, the project provides the greatest example of what the Beltline will look like — which will become only more clear once more than 600 trees are planted and bloom next to the trail.

As Beltline officials look forward to the project’s next phase — first on the list is building a new Edgewood Avenue bridge that will help the trail and future transit lines link to the street — we look back and offer some pointers for the next segments.