Atlanta Beltline

Date

On the 16th of November, Compassionate Atlanta colleagues and I visited The Atlanta Beltline (TAB) by way of an AirBnB tour arranged by Leanne Rubinstein. I had heard of staying in an AirBnB, but I had never heard of AirBnB tours until Leanne suggested this outing. This tour was a two-part experience for me.  I got to experience the Beltline for the very first time, and I also got to experience a walking tour of some historic Atlanta neighborhoods along the Beltline.

We Took An Airbnb Tour.

Let me take you on a journey with Compassionate Atlanta and me. We were scheduled to meet our tour guide at 669 Edgewood Avenue, which is the street address for the only ramped access point for bicycles and wheelchair users like myself. While street parking is free, there is no designated handicapped parking on the street or close to the ramp. Since we toured on a weekday instead of a weekend, we thought there would be plenty of street parking, but most of the parking was taken up by the cars and trucks belonging to construction workers who were in the area. Finding a parking space was somewhat of a challenge, but we did eventually find a space although we did have to travel a bit to get to the ramp that accesses the Beltline.

As a matter of policy Airbnb Experience Tours can include free admission for Personal Care Assistants (PCA) to people with disabilities. For this tour I did need my PCA to help me, and I was very grateful to our guide who allowed my PCA free of charge. Click here for more information. https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/3081

Amy Durrell was our Airbnb tour guide.

Amy has a graduate degree in Historic Preservation from Georgia State University with an emphasis on Urban Studies. In addition, Amy, who grew up in the neighborhood of our Beltline tour, knows the area quite well. She showed us several neighborhoods that were built during the Reconstruction Era.  These neighborhoods located in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward were originally filled with diverse working class families, most working for industries such as the railroad, ironworks, and the cotton compression factory. Most of the original houses are no longer standing, but Amy was able to show us several that have survived. She gave us information about each house, including showing us copies of maps of the area from the 19th century.  The houses that are still standing have been remodeled and updated and are quite beautiful. Even though the housing in this area was originally affordable for the working class, it is now quite expensive to buy in this area. Learning about the history of this part of Atlanta was informative and enlightening.

There are many multiplace housing developments being built all around 669 Edgewood Avenue. That’s because one of the goals and objectives of TAB is to make the Beltline more accessible to all users. This way people can live, work, and play on the Beltline.

The idea for TAB came from Georgia Tech grad student Ryan Gravel’s Master’s Thesis where he proposed converting old, unused rail lines first built in the 1870s and 1880s that were  scattered around Atlanta’s older industrial areas into walkways.

The Beltline is built from old railroad lines

The old, unused rail lines circled the city and were offshoots of the main rail line. While the main rail line still exists and is still in use, the offshoots were originally built to support factories located throughout once industrialized areas. These once-busy factories are now closed, and most are even torn down, wiped off the map. Mr. Gravel proposed turning the network of off-shoot rail lines into fully-connected walking paths that would unify all the inner-city neighborhoods in Atlanta. Interestingly, the rail lines were built on top of walking trails created and used by indigenous people of this area for thousands of years.

Now those original walking paths and rail lines are gone, and the flattened land areas are now concreted walkways that can accommodate bicycles, wheelchairs, scooters, and baby strollers.

The Atlanta Beltline has all sorts of amenities. It is a place where people can enjoy the outdoors. Or stop and get a bite to eat. Or spend time with friends. You can even rent a bicycle or get a cup of coffee from the Little Tart pastry shop in the Krog Street Market.

I enjoyed both the Beltline and the walking tour. By the way, you don’t have to stay overnight in an Airbnb to take one of their tours. Anyone can go on an Airbnb Experience Tour even in their own city or community. To find tours and other experiences in Georgia, go online to https://www.airbnb.com/s/Georgia–United-States/experiences. For experiences outside Georgia, type in a city. Click on the experience button to see what’s available in that area. There might be a nice surprise waiting there for you and your family to enjoy!

The Takeaways

Celebrate:

  1. The Beltline is paved so it is accessible for people in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, bike riders, etc.
  2. There are many restaurants, coffee shops, and other shops and vendors scattered along the Beltline, such as the Krog Street Market.
  3. Check out Airbnb experiences in your city or a city you plan to visit. You might discover something unique, unexpected, and fun!
  4. Our tour guide, Amy Durrell has her own company called History Afoot Atlanta that specializes in walking tours that can even accommodate people with disabilities. You can reach her at HistoryAfootAtlanta.com.

Educate:

  1. There is no handicapped parking near the only ramp access to the Beltline. 
  2. Allow enough time to find street parking and be prepared to have to travel to get to the only handicapped access ramp to the Beltline. You can take MARTA to the Inman Park/Reynoldstown Station, but it is about a mile away from the ramp access.

Jimmy Freels
Community Outreach Associate
Compassionate Atlanta
http://jimmyfreels.com

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