Atlanta’s urban connector the BeltLine is still a work in progress, but it has a few elements ready for public use, and one of the most rewarding is the Eastside Trail. The trail runs from the intersection of Monroe Drive and 10th Street (at the southeast corner of Piedmont Park), all the way to Irwin and Krog Streets in Inman Park, and passes by quintessentially Atlanta sites like Freedom Parkway and the Historic Fourth Ward Park. Walk it, bike it, rollerblade it—no matter what, get out into the fresh air. In its entirety, the trail adds up to about 2.25 miles.
If you’ve gone the north-to-south route on the trail, it’s a short jaunt over to Condesa Coffee (480 John Wesley Dobbs Ave) for your mid-afternoon caffeine fix. But Condesa’s not quite your average coffee shop: The baristas are dressed to the nines. They make latte art. They serve simple but elegant plates of breakfast food and sandwiches. And there’s a full bar. It’s still all about the coffee, featuring espressos and cappuccinos and all the other “o”s, but Condesa is certainly a step up from your neighborhood Starbucks. Plus, if it’s a nice day out (which hopefully it has been, if you’ve been walking for two miles), sit outside: facing east, you can see infinite green space; facing west, you’ve got a lovely view of the Atlanta skyline.
No visit to the O4W/Sweet Auburn area is complete without an acknowledgment of the late great Dr. King and his life’s work—after all, this neighborhood was his stomping grounds for quite some time. Less than a half mile from the coffee shop, you can explore a multitude of aspects of Dr. King’s legacy: from Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he preached, to the “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden, which features King-centric poems by Atlanta students, to the beautifully serene reflection pool outside the tombs of Dr. King himself and his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King.
Learn more about the King Center here.
It doesn’t get much more American than this. Finish off your day at burger and beer hub The Corner Tavern, whose Edgewood location (464 Edgewood Ave) has a special every. Single. Day. Of. The. Week. On Thursdays, there’s breakfast for dinner and bar trivia. Friday is crab legs night. On Saturdays, stop in for live music. No matter what day you choose to have your O4W adventure, you can always find some excitement going down in the Corner Tavern.
Get a walk-through of the day’s spots with this map:
If you’ve ever taken MARTA from campus to downtown, you’ve seen it: rows and stacks of blue, green, yellow and red crates piled just outside your window, an industrial counterpart to the colorful Cabbagetown neighborhood along the other side of your train.
The Brobdingnagian Lego structure is Hulsey Yard, the largest freight hub in Georgia along the CSX railway.
Every day, more than 3,000 containers come in and out of the railway terminal, carrying anything from paper products to wine, according to an operations manager at CSX.
The site is an intermodal yard, which means it receives goods from both rail and road, on trucks. Because it’s a hub, the terminal is also a transfer point for the seven inbound trains that arrive each day.
It works like this: Target stores in the Chicago area are running low on a certain perfect beach towel, manufactured in Sarasota, Fla. An order is placed online and later the shipment is tacked onto 18-wheelers at the plant. The towels are trucked up I-75 until they reach a CSX terminal outside of Tampa. Next, they’re thrown aboard a freight train and make the trip north to Atlanta, arriving at the Hulsey Yard hub. From there, the towels trade trains and traverse middle America, arriving later that day in Chicago.
The rail yard, already busy with over 100 workers on a 24/7 schedule, could be seeing more action soon with a proposed plan to deepen the port of Savannah. The project, which has been in the works for years and recently gained the Obama administration’s support, would allow the port to welcome larger international freight ships, strengthening the state’s shipping industry and adding jobs to places like Hulsey Yard.
CSX has operated the rail yard since 1988, but Hulsey Yard has been around in some form or another since the turn of the century, along the east-west rail line that connects Atlanta to the rest of the country. The 6-acre yard itself sits in the shadow of a stately former cotton mill, now converted into loft apartments. The southern wall of the rail yard is also a hub for the Atlanta street art scene, including the Krog Street tunnel, which runs below it.