City on the Verge: The BeltLine in Atlanta's Past, Present, and Future

City on the Verge: The BeltLine in Atlanta's Past, Present, and Future

A Panel Discussion with Ryan Gravel, Alexander Garvin, and Mark Pendergrast, Moderated by Jim Langford

The Atlanta BeltLine is helping to transform our city. Originating as “belt line” railroads built over a century ago to expand the industrial base of the city, the corridors were largely abandoned by the late 20th century, but are now being repurposed as a planned 22-mile trail and transit loop that will connect new and old parks. Already, the completed trail sections are helping to revitalize neighborhoods, but not without controversy and concern over economic and cultural displacement.

Ryan Gravel is founder of Sixpitch, and is the architect and city planner whose 1999 Georgia Tech master’s thesis first proposed the BeltLine project. He is currently heading the Atlanta City Design Project and speaks all over the world. He is the author of Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities

Alexander Garvin, CEO of AGA Public Realm Strategists and Yale professor, is the architect and city planner who in 2004 created the “Emerald Necklace” plan of connected parks along the BeltLine. During a helicopter tour, he spotted the quarry that will become the reservoir at the center of the Westside Park. He is the author of What Makes a Great City and other books.

Mark Pendergrast, independent scholar and writer, is an Atlanta native with many books to his credit. He lives in Vermont, but over the past six years, he conducted intensive research for his comprehensive book, City on the Verge: Atlanta and the Fight for America’s Urban Future, which uses the BeltLine story as a narrative thread for the first major book about Atlanta since 1996.

Jim Langford served as Georgia State Director of the Trust for Public Land during 2004-07. He envisioned the BeltLine as the backbone of a “connected park system” that would create hundreds of acres of new Atlanta parkland and link those to existing parks with bicycle and pedestrian pathways. Jim currently serves as the head of multiple non-profit organizations, including MillionMile Greenway, Coosawattee Foundation, and Georgia Prevention Project. 

Admission is $10 for general public, $5 for members, and free to AHC Insiders.

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