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National Attention For 'Brilliant' Beltline Continues

The Atlanta Beltline continues to attract attention on a national scale. While a Business Insider headline that calls the 22-mile initiative "A Brilliant Project That Will Completely Transform Atlanta ?" — a header later echoed by the Houston Chronicle — smacks as hyperbole, it's heartening to know the appeal of the homegrown development is so broad. In the fifth of an eight-part series that highlights Atlanta's "growing entrepreneurial scene" — and which is sponsored by PNC Bank (welcome to 21st-century journalism) — the Business Insider piece finds a fresh angle on the long-hyped project. They note how the Beltline wouldn't be happening, if a few people hadn't pushed its mastermind into seeing its "cool" factor.

By now, we know the Beltline's initial seed was drawn up more than a decade ago by Georgia Tech architecture student Ryan Gravel, who envisioned a ring of trails and transit around the city — via its belt of old historic railroad lines — as part of his master's thesis. But that thesis, the website reports, may still be a dusty paperweight today if Gravel's coworkers hadn't convinced him his idea was "too cool" to not become reality.

Fast forward to last January, and The New York Times is traipsing around the newly opened and heavily patronized Eastside Trail, writing: "Until last year, the old railroad tracks that snaked through east Atlanta were derelict. Kudzu, broken bottles and plastic bags covered the rusting rails. But these days, the two-mile corridor bustles with joggers, bikers and commuters. Along a trail lined with pine and sassafras trees, condos are under construction and a streetcar is planned."

In the more recent article, the wah-wah moment comes when the reportage turns toward reasonable predictions: "The Atlanta Beltline has been under construction for the past six years and is projected to be completed in 2031." Almost 20 damn years? Wah-wah.

For what it's worth, a Business Insider commenter called "Whirled Peas" takes a blind jab in the article's comments gallery, calling Atlanta "a third world city" whose prospects of regeneration are bleak. "The city has many areas of high crime and poverty. A few areas of great wealth. And a couple of trendy areas frequented by singles," Whirled Peas bestows. "But the middle class is mostly absent. Real families are scarce. This will not bring them back."

Maybe Whirled Peas should visit the places he/she disparages.

· A Brilliant Project That Will Completely Transform Atlanta Almost Didn't Happen[Business Insider]
· Now Atlanta Is Turning Old Tracks Green [New York Times]
· Extraordinary Beltline coverage [Curbed Atlanta]