This is the first of four chapters about the four quadrants of the BeltLine. I practiced “shoeleather journalism,” walking around and getting to know people, which included staying overnight with kind people in various neighborhoods. I began with a walk down the Eastside Trail, the first section of the BeltLine to be completed:
Back on the trail, I fell in with a young couple. Tom lived in Midtown, not far away, and had been a frequent visitor since the trail opened, but Mindy lived in suburban Alpharetta. This was her first time. It turned out this was a blind date, a good indication that the Eastside Trail had become a hip destination in and of itself, allowing people to soak in the green walkable urbanity that these Millennials – young people born from the 1980s on – were seeking.
Many new bars and restaurants had sprung up adjacent or close to the trail. As I neared the end of my two-plus mile walk on the completed trail, which dead-ended (so far) into Irwin Street, I passed Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall on the right on John Wesley Dobbs Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward. Opened in 2014, it was specifically designed to appeal to BeltLine consumers as a “base camp for the urban explorer.”
Further down the Eastside Trail on the left, Kevin Rathbun Steak opened on nearby Krog Street in 2007. “We never could have predicted the transformation of the abandoned rail corridor next door,” Rathbun recalled. “It’s been a revelation.” The chef added a 900-foot covered patio, featuring a six-foot wide fireplace, facing the trail, offering drinks and light snacks.