New Horizons: Adair Park and the Westside Trail


Let me just say from the outset that I’m a park guy. I devote a lot of energy to preserving old and establishing new greenspace in the urban landscape. The BeltLine is a linear park, so you’ll understand my affinity.

When I moved to the Old Fourth Ward in 2004, the BeltLine was a vision, but the reality was a corridor covered in kudzu – wrong kind of greenspace. Parts of the neighborhood had begun to show some life, but from where I lived a walk to Cabbagetown was the closest beer. Edgewood Avenue was a series of beautiful brick buildings, frozen in time and mostly empty. My rent was cheap – you wouldn’t believe me if I told you – and I loved the aesthetic, so I’d stroll Auburn and Edgewood, imagining better days in the past and to come.

When the BeltLine cleared, though still unopened and unused, I’d use it to walk to work in Midtown. By then life had begun to spring up on Edgewood. I used to attend Parks Department meetings in the old Sears building regarding the reopening of Sweet Auburn’s Butler Park. By then, the BeltLine’s transformational magic on old adjacent properties was doing it’s thing with plans being made to convert that jewel into Ponce City Market.

And then the BeltLine Eastside Trail opened. It’s hard to call it an explosion – having watched it happen over so many years – but the tipping point was definitely reached, and when it did the water flowed fast. The number of new bars, new restaurants, new housing, the unprecedented and beyond expectations number of people coming to the BeltLine to walk and play has catalyzed the neighborhoods touching it in ways that almost seem unreal.

When it came time to move, I wanted to stay a part of the BeltLine, but with a fresh start. I knew several people that had already made a home in historic Adair Park, on the southwest side of the BeltLine. After a visit, I was hooked. The neighborhood has two parks! I recently moved in to a renovated 1925 bungalow. Dare I say, Adair Park, and her sister neighborhoods have the ability to exceed what happened in the Old Fourth Ward.

These days I walk a couple of blocks from my house to the next segment of the BeltLine scheduled to come online. The Westside Trail, slated to begin construction this summer, is sort of a mirror image of the Eastside Trail. When completed, these two trails will bracket the city center in a set of gigantic green parentheses. Over time they will be connected by future BeltLine segments on the north and the south. One day I’ll be able to walk or bike from my new neighborhood to my old on one continuous linear park.

Now I don’t have to use nearly the imagination I did ten years ago to see the buildings of the Murphy triangle teeming with life. The abandoned factory 2 blocks away and the old Adair School building won’t have to beg for adaptive reuse – it’s coming. Metropolitan, Dill and McDaniel may need some TLC, but long portions were built back when we built streets right – for people not cars, and they’ll be the first and best to come back.

And I’ll be walking the BeltLine to all of them.

murphy crossing before

About Matthew Garbett

Matt Garbett moved to the Old Fourth Ward in early 2004. After volunteering with a local homeless assistance facility, he began volunteering for the local neighborhood association, serving three years as president. He'll never know as much as the old timers, but he learned a lot, and he hopes to bring that knowledge to his new home in Adair Park

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