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Photos: How the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail looks a year after opening

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In several ways, this three-mile Beltline corridor is the opposite of its bustling Eastside counterpart

Along the Westside Trail is 2017’s Singer mural by Suzy Schultz.
Along the Westside Trail is 2017’s Singer mural by Suzy Schultz.

Following three years of hype and roughly $43 million, the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail was officially unveiled one year ago, as of next week.

Maybe that seems like yesterday. Or like several years ago. But 12 months later, this Westside segment is evolving as a quieter, leafier, more understated alternative to its boisterous crosstown cousin.

Linking Washington Park to Adair Park, the trail is dotted with 16 different access points—14 of them ADA accessible—sleek light posts and an embedded centerline that designates left and right lanes.

Shaded in places by trees and tunnels, it’s the peaceful antithesis of the Eastside Trail’s commercialism and crowds, where birdsongs and wildflowers are more prevalent than beguiled tourists and unruly pooches. Although on weekdays—and even the occasional weekend afternoon—certain stretches can seem a little lonely.

Nathan Pierce’s Optimistical sculpture is a recent addition.

Then again, the trail is still a relative infant. And it’s pretty long, wending for three miles through historic neighborhoods, over hills, around a commercial node, and down the gut of a postindustrial corridor, which is coming to life as a brewery, food, and urban agricultural district, with the promise of trail-adjacent jobs and affordable housing on the horizon.

As this installment of Visual Journeys illustrates, the decorative grasses and ferns are starting to flourish, the saplings are growing, and art installations—both permanent and not—are taking shape.

Happy birthday, Westside Trail:

A major component of the Westside Trail’s construction was the new Martin Luther King Jr. Drive bridge. It’s seen here, with Midtown’s Bank of America Plaza peeking over distant trees.
Folks from Trees Atlanta spray and weed alongside the trail with Pilgrims Travelers Baptist Church in the background.
Patrons encompass a variety of ages. (The boy’s mother, it should be noted, is just beyond the frame).
The Stafford Street Park access point to the trail.
One difference from the Eastside Beltline stretch: hills.
Especially in the mornings and evenings, larger trees cast much needed shade.
Butterflies cling to flowers in the wind along the trail.
Trail access at West Fair Street has a few benches.
An overpass pun—or is there a deeper meaning?
Ray Katz’s installation, Hurricane.
Like the rest of Atlanta, the Westside Trail isn’t immune to Bird droppings.
Walkers exercise along the trail with their children near the Interstate 20 overpasses.
Karcheik Sims-Alvarado has curated the installation of photos from the civil rights movement in Atlanta, which echo similar installments on the Eastside Trail. A young John Lewis, now the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, is seen here alongside 200 demonstrators in 1965.
The ever-colorful tunnel underneath Lucile Avenue.
The sounds of children can be heard while passing KIPP STRIVE Primary School.
2017’s Singer mural by Suzy Schultz.
The tunnel at Cascade Avenue from the elevated trail access point. As they have for years, the pesky mice are still causing trouble along with a photo installation from important points in Atlanta’s civil rights history.
W.E.B. Du Bois is honored as part of the civil rights installation near the Cascade Avenue access point.
Alongside a dazzling wall mural, Crayon statues have been installed on the Westside Trail near the White Street access point.
The Westside Trail’s entry/exit point at White Street, across the street from restaurant Lean Draft House. From here, the trail leaves the rail corridor (for now) and follows White Street toward the next new Beltline stretch, which links down to Adair Park. (For new visitors, these directions are handy). Time constraints prevented a photo tour of the remaining stretch this week, which includes “Warehouse Row,” but expect a photo update in full this fall.