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As downtown undergoes digital 'arts district' changes, Woodruff Park Wi-Fi renewed

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The initiatives strive to make downtown a place where people want to live, work, and play (on the internet)

ATL structure at Woodruff Park.
The ATL-shaped playground at Woodruff Park.
Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta

The digitization of downtown Atlanta is in full swing, as luminescent light displays—er, bright billboards—pop up on the sides of buildings and free internet access is more widely available.

The new light boards are part of an initiative launched by the City of Atlanta in 2017 called the Arts & Entertainment District.

Now managed by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, the program aims to inject the heart of the city—which is rather starved for nightlife—with more vibrancy, in the vein of Times Square.

What better way to remind folks downtown, as the thinking goes, that they’re living in the digital age than to keep free Wi-Fi at the ready?

A billboard with giant illustrated people and a dog on it in the middle of a city.
New signage (and a familiar illustration) over MARTA’s Peachtree Center station.
Curbed Atlanta

Representatives of Georgia’s Own Credit Union—the company that replaced downtown’s iconic Equitable sign atop the 100 Peachtree building with a glowing light board of its own—recently told Curbed Atlanta it would be renewing a program that offers free Wi-Fi in Woodruff Park.

Launched by Georgia’s Own in October 2018, the program grew in popularity during its first year of operation, connecting about 1,000 visitors each month.

“Having free Wi-Fi in Woodruff Park has helped us activate the park and provided our visitors with an essential amenity, enabling us to do many more types of activities,” said Ansley Whipple, Woodruff Park’s project manager, according to a press release.

She’s nodding to the obvious benefits of internet access for downtown dwellers, such as Georgia State University students surfing for schoolwork, neighborhood workers scrolling during lunch break, or even homeless people searching for job opportunities.

And according to New York-based placemaking nonprofit Project for Public Spaces, “encouraging community use of public spaces like Woodruff Park does more than just give people a place to hang out—it actually fosters economic growth,” per the release.

On the digital signage front, several installations have made their mark on the downtown landscape, such as the displays at Peachtree Center and 76 Forsyth Street, and a 1,050-square-foot screen at the corner of Marietta Street and Ted Turner Drive.

More than a dozen other proposals for digital additions are in various stages of review and permitting within the Arts & Entertainment District, according to ADID.