Atlanta could be so much more if we fixed the problems that have emerged over the years. We have all the ingredients of a major city yet we lack that certain something. Many people are searching and researching about what is missing and what can be done to restore Atlanta to all it’s former glory. It’s been done before and it can be done again.
Although many architects and city planners share a sentiment close to that of certain foreign city planners that Atlanta is fragmented, splintered and sprawling, the light continues to shine at the end of the tunnel. For Ryan Gravel, brain parent of the Beltline, that light is the shadow of trains long past. Inspired by his senior year abroad in Paris, Gravel wished to make his hometown a city in which people wished to stay. In his mind, the often mocked traffic congestion and limited amount of public transit are two of Atlanta’s main problems. Gravel’s thesis culminated with his solution, a revitalization of old railroad tracks now know as the Beltline. In short, the goal of the Beltline is to kickstart the creation of more public parks and green spaces, which in turn hopes to form cleaner spaces, rejuvenate run down areas by sprucing them up, attracting more people and more businesses in the process. Gravel also hopes that the Beltline will improve public transit and entice people back into downtown Atlanta, the thriving yet often disregarded heart of the city we inhabit.
At TEDxAtlanta this spring, I heard another speaker who wanted to help keep Atlanta from depopulating. Jessica Moore wants to harness the sun and release us from our dependence on oil. According to her, we rely too heavily on acquiring fossil fuels from other cities. Putting the sun to work will also help put more Atlantans to work, opening up a very profitable job market. Tapping into the large amount of sunlight we get daily will not only reduce our energy woes but create more jobs and more revenue.
People like Gravel and Moore with their optimism and passion for their city give everyone a reason to believe. The future is shining bright ahead like a gleaming set of rails under the hot Georgia sun.