clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Photos: Touring Atlanta’s Bellwood Quarry, before its transition to a public park

New, 46 comments

Future Atlanta Beltline jewel is prepping for public use—and life as a crucial water reservoir—next year

An aerial photo of Atlanta’s Bellwood Quarry.
Just add 2.4 billion gallons of H2O.
Photos: Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

What’s long been promised as Atlanta’s largest park is coming to fruition, claiming a site that’s majestic for both its preserved, urban greenery and colossal, man-made scars.

In the waning days of 2017, the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry made news when city officials released the most detailed renderings to date of what the transformative project (100 acres larger than Piedmont Park, eventually) will look like.

In 2016, the city’s aptly named Driller Mike began a $300 million tunnel-boring mission between the Chattahoochee River and Hemphill Water Treatment Plant that links to the quarry. Meanwhile, a $26 million Phase 1 initiative is underway to make the reservoir’s surroundings into public-accessible green space.

Once drilling is complete, officials tell Curbed Atlanta it will take between 30 and 90 days for the reservoir to fill with water redirected from the river.

Ultimately, the reservoir will hold up to a month’s worth of clean water for Atlantans. Elsewhere among the eventual 280 acres will be multiple green spaces for recreation, playgrounds, fields, walking trails, and connections to the Beltline’s Westside Trail and under-construction Proctor Creek Greenway.

Imagine the importance of this place to Atlanta in, say, 2030.

For this installment of Visual Journeys, we set out to document the property before the transformation. Please note that this was a guided tour, arranged with City of Atlanta officials, and that everything seen below remains off-limits to the public until next year.

Directly west of Midtown, here’s the start of the trail that leads up to Bellwood Quarry.
Photos: Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta
The trail continues at a gentle slope for one-tenth of a mile before reaching the security fence—through the trees at left—that barricades the property for now.
A magnificent view of Bellwood Quarry from what is being called the Grand Overlook. The quarry has been drained of its teal waters so that tunneling work can connect to the Chattahoochee River.
From treetop level, the skyline juts up in the distance.
This aerial view of Bellwood Quarry shows its location relative to downtown and parts of Midtown. To the left is a pumping station being built on the quarry’s edge. Inside the quarry, drilling continues to connect the basin to the river.
The quarry is nearly 400 feet deep.
Climbing the hill on the trail that leads up to what’s being called the Meadows.
Boulders such as these and more than 300 others will be moved to other parks.
The Meadows.
Another overlook of the quarry past the Meadows.
Small pools of water are kept manageable with pumps as drilling continues in the basin. Note the ice formations in the shadows from last week’s below-average temps.
Workers are transported into the tunnel using a train of sorts parked in the center of the basin.
The height of the road on the right side that leads to the bottom is 359 feet.
For scale, those are full-size Dumpsters and shipping containers on the basin floor.
Cracks in the quarry’s walls of granite are part of the reason mining operations stopped at the site.
If construction timelines pan out, this current resident will be welcoming visitors next year.
Part of the future park’s “comprehensive vision.”
Renderings courtesy of City of Atlanta/HGOR
Per landscape architects HGOR, Phase 1 will debut in 2019 with the new quarry lake and a “carefully designed system of walkways and trails,” punctuated by “an elaborate gateway entrance” and trails leading to the city overlook.
A smaller body of water planned near the reservoir.
The grand plan.