Atlanta's footprint has grown exponentially over the last few decades — the city has upwards of 242 neighborhoods. Depending on who you talk to, ITP-er (inside the perimeter of I-285) or OTP-er (outside), you may get a few different answers behind the names. But within the city, the answers are clear.
Within the city center, the Atlanta BeltLine trail connects at least 45 of those neighborhoods in one big loop that's easily trekked by foot or bike. The best part? Each Atlanta neighborhood has its own personality, along with deep history and, of course, some fun facts. For example, Atlanta wasn't always the capital of Georgia.
Named Terminus initially due to the railroad lines that went through the city, Atlanta became the capital of the Peach State in the 1870s. Savannah was Georgia's first capital.
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Ready to learn more about Atlanta's many neighborhoods, from Buckhead to the West End? Here's a list of five fun facts of 10 of Atlanta's most popular neighborhoods.
Buckhead boasts one of the country's wealthiest zip codes — and you can tell. A quick stroll down West Paces Ferry or Mt. Paran Road, and you can quickly see the mansions and historic homes that earned that designation. But Buckhead also thrives as a business and financial center, with more than enough commercial space and hotel rooms to house it all.
Five fun facts about Buckhead
The Atlanta Tech Village, a hub of hundreds of growing startups, is the fourth-largest tech space in the U.S.
The neighborhood acquired its name after a local hunter mounted a "buck's head" near Charlie Loudermilk Park, and community members would agree to meet there
Buckhead wasn't annexed to the City of Atlanta until 1952
As a business center, Buckhead is home to several Fortune 500 companies and emerging startups. But also, the world's youngest self-made billionaire, SPANX's Sara Blakely.
The oldest home in Buckhead was built in 1797, currently located on W Wesley Road. It functioned as headquarters during the Civil War and as a hospital.
One of the many neighborhoods that grew along a park, Cabbagetown, is well-known for its mix of artist residents and young families. Within walking distance, you have several mainstay restaurants and bars, including along Carroll Street.
The neighborhood is accessible only via car or by bike as the Atlanta BeltLine connects nearby. It's a highly walkable neighborhood with art installations, tree-lined streets and a strong sense of community. The park provides a gathering place for its famous fireworks festival on the 4th of July and, of course, the famous chili festival.
Five fun facts about Cabbagetown
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Cabbagetown is one of the oldest industrial settlements in the city. The in-town neighborhood was built as a home for the workers of the nearby textile processing mill. In 2008, a tornado damaged part of the cotton mill, now a loft apartment community.
The architecture in Cabbagetown skews shotgun-style, craftsman and bungalows, all in classic colors, surrounding Cabbagetown Park
At the heart of the neighborhood, you can find the Krog Street Tunnel. The local artist community has banded together to refresh the murals outside the tunnel every year. But inside the tunnel, anything goes. The tunnel is famous for being the background to many photoshoots and music videos, thanks to its fun graffiti.
Every November, the Atlanta community lands on Cabbagetown for the biggest chili cook-off festival in the city, Chomp and Stomp. For a few bucks, you get a tasting spoon to taste chilis from renowned local chefs to amateurs. Come hungry as the bowls of chili are endless.
No one truly knows where the name "Cabbagetown" came from, but theories abound. The most popular one is that poor Appalachian residents of Irish descent would grow cabbages in their front yards for consumption. It would give the whole neighborhood a particular "scent."
Tall skyscrapers, a historical library, Georgia State University and a rotating restaurant — Downtown looks a little different than other downtowns around the country. The area is predominantly a business district. But a new recent boom of new apartments, late-night activities and more have made newcomers keep an eye on the pulse.
Woodruff Park and South Downtown have hosted several music and art events. Easy MARTA access through Five Points helps residents get to work and home without thinking about the city's infamous traffic. The Atlanta Streetcar also zooms by, which is included in your MARTA fare.
Take advantage of concerts at the State Farm Arena and the Tabernacle, sports games at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the nearby Georgia Aquarium, Center for Civil and Human Rights and the World of Coca-Cola. Enjoy a 360-degree view of the city with a delicious meal at the Sun Dial high up in the clouds.
Five fun facts about Downtown
Atlanta was the only city to get destroyed as an act of war during the Civil War after General William Sherman set it ablaze in 1864 during the Battle of Atlanta. The fire destroyed about 40 percent of the city — with more than 3,000 buildings destroyed.
The World of Coca-Cola was initially located at Underground Atlanta but moved to Pemberton Place near Centennial Olympic Park in 2007. You can taste more than 100 flavors in the museum.
Underground Atlanta, a historical series of underground viaducts aimed at reducing traffic during the 1920s, transitioned into an entertainment and shopping district in the 1990s. The strip closed down as a revitalization project will kick off soon to bring more energy to the area.
The Flatiron building located at the intersection of Broad Street, Poplar Street and Peachtree Street bears a resemblance to New York City's. The building was completed five years before New York's, but they still share a similar architecture.
The Varsity is a local landmark and go-to eatery before sports games. Its downtown location is the world's largest drive-in restaurant and serves more Coca-Cola than any other spot in the world.
4. Grant Park
Victorian mansions and craftsman homes with idyllic porches line the streets of Atlanta's Grant Park. The historic neighborhood boasts a weekly farmers market, several restaurants and bars and, of course, the family-friendly Zoo Atlanta. Guests can stay at the nearby Social Goat B&B and enjoy the company of a turkey, several goats and a couple of chickens.
Grant Park, located in Southeast Atlanta, is one of the oldest and largest parks in the city. Nearby, at Oakland Cemetery, you can find the final resting place of "Gone with the Wind"'s Margaret Mitchell and several Georgia leaders. The tight-knit community has both the amenities of the big city but an authentic small-town feel.
Five fun facts about Grant Park
Named after the "Father of Atlanta," civil engineer Lemuel P. Grant, Grant Park was formed as a city suburb through land gifts from Grant. He led the campaign to bring the railroad to Atlanta.
In 2000, Grant Park became one of Atlanta's largest historic districts and was awarded additional zoning protections following its placement in the National Register of Historic Places
Cyclorama, a large cylindrical panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta, was initially housed next to Zoo Atlanta in Grant Park. The painting and museum were recently relocated to the Atlanta History Center. It's one of only two cyclorama paintings left in the U.S.
Zoo Atlanta, an attraction located inside Grant Park, currently houses the largest gorilla and orangutan population in the entire country, along with several endangered species
The last defensive fortification built to protect Atlanta in 1863 remains in Grant Park — Fort Walker
Walking along the streets of Inman Park, you can see a little glimpse of the past. The large craftsman and Victorian-style mansions that take up entire blocks, all of them restored to their former glory. Ornate details decorate the porches and old oak trees line the streets. It's a beautiful sight.
The neighborhood is also one of the most connected in the city, with its own MARTA station and easy access to the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. Small shops and bakeries thrive nearby as it's a mostly walkable neighborhood. The nearby Krog Street Market and the BeltLine provide delicious cuisine and drinks. Who says you can't get a little history with your modern lifestyle?
Five fun facts about Inman Park
Inman Park was the first planned residential neighborhood, designed by civil engineer Joel Hurt in the late 1880s. The community was meant to provide an oasis from the bustle of the city yet remain connected by one of the electric streetcar lines.
Atlanta's most prominent families took up residence in Inman Park and its many Victorian mansions, including the founder of Coca-Cola
The neighborhood fell mostly into disrepair in the 1960s as the car allowed affluent families to move outside the perimeter. Many of the historic homes became boarding houses or almost lost to fires.
Inman Park's favorite wedding venue, The Trolley Barn, was originally the offices of the first electric streetcar system in the country. It slowly transitioned into a church, storage facilities and other community services. Once condemned by the city, its was restored in the 1980s by the community.
The neighborhood has several examples of Queen Anne architecture, Colonial Revival and Shingle-style homes
6. Little Five Points
Follow the skull (The Vortex skull, that is) to Little Five Points, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Atlanta. You can find a little bit of everything — from dive bars and chill burger and pizza spots to vintage clothing and live music venues. The vibe is eclectic everywhere you go.
The neighborhood is sandwiched between Inman Park and Candler Park. Its name comes from the intersection at the heart of the community of five streets, Moreland Avenue, Euclid Avenue and Seminole Avenue.
Five fun facts about Little Five Points
The "little" in Little Five Points is due to the existence of Five Points in downtown Atlanta, where several streets meet at one point, as well
The owner of the creative shop, Junkman's Daughter, Pam Majors, was really a junkman's daughter. She opened her shop in 1982 in Little Five Points.
Criminal Records and a few other stores are set up today in the exact spot of Georgia's former governor Alfred Colquitt's house
The popular complex Bass Lofts, right across from the Variety Playhouse and 7 Stages, used to be a high school
Many of the businesses in Little Five Points have been there since the 1970s and 1980s
Mechanicsville isn't as well-known as other neighborhoods in Atlanta, even though it's one of the oldest in the city. The neighborhood gained some recognition as the setting of the movie "ATL," but at the start of the century, the Rich family (yes, from the department store) lived in the area along with working families.
Following the move of the Braves to suburban Cobb County, Georgia State University purchased nearby Turner Field to turn it into its football stadium. Now, the community, along with nearby Summerhill, are experiencing a renaissance as they're starting to welcome new families and more businesses.
Five fun facts about Mechanicsville
The neighborhood gets its name from the railroad mechanics that lived in the community in the late 19th century
Most of the population in Mechanicsville left the neighborhood due to the construction of the I-75/I-85 connector and the I-20 interstate
The Rosa Burney Park currently hosts the Mechanicsville's community garden, which brings fresh produce to the community
Originally, Mechanicsville had four electric streetcar routes that connected the neighborhood with downtown Atlanta
Before the electric streetcar, Mechanicsville had a horse car system
South of Buckhead, Midtown boasts high-rise buildings, museums, hotels and two universities. The neighborhood has one of the highest densities of art and cultural institutions in the Southeast — from the High Museum of Art to the Center of Puppetry Arts and the Fox Theatre.
Midtown is also highly walkable and has a high density of bike lanes and public transportation that connects to nearby shopping centers like Atlantic Station. Plus, Piedmont Park provides ample green space against the concrete.
While businesses and restaurants primarily occupy the Midtown district, it also has an active community in its small residential area, composed of historic bungalows.
Five fun facts about Midtown
The Fox Theatre merges Moorish architecture with Egyptian-style architecture as inspiration for its ballrooms and salons. It's now the only remaining palace in Atlanta.
At its 1978 opening, Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Center of Puppetry Arts
Piedmont Park was formerly owned by Dr. Benjamin Walker, who used the land to leisurely farm and as a residence
Many of Atlanta's Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, have their headquarters in Midtown
Midtown is also home to SCAD-Atlanta, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology
9. Old Fourth Ward
Old Fourth Ward is the epicenter for the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine and the now-famous attraction food and shopping hall, Ponce City Market. The in-town neighborhood, better known as O4W, has changed a lot in recent years, where gentrification has renovated and transformed many homes in the area.
The neighborhood remains young, with music festivals taking over several parks over the summer and the growing nightlife on Edgewood Avenue. Due to the success of commerce along Ponce de Leon Avenue and the BeltLine, prices in the area have climbed dramatically.
However, the neighborhood's walkability and green spaces make it a great place to live.
Five fun facts about Old Fourth Ward
In 1917, the Great Atlanta Fire set blaze to more than 300 acres of the Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods. The fire burned for 10 hours across Edgewood Avenue, Boulevard and other adjacent areas.
Ponce City Market was previously the Sears, Roebuck & Company building and later the city's City Hall. It opened in 2014, and its renovation placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
One of the main arteries in Old Fourth Ward, Freedom Parkway, was recently renamed after Civil Rights leader and U.S Representative, John Lewis
Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in Old Fourth Ward and practiced his oration during his sermons at the nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church
The iconic shot of the Atlanta skyline that shows up in The Walking Dead and every Instagram feed is from the Jackson Street Bridge, also located in Old Fourth Ward
10. West End
Photo courtesy of Brian Carberry
The revival of the historic West End neighborhood has been a long time coming, but with the completion of the Westside BeltLine trail is finally here. The BeltLine has brought small shops, breweries and restaurants to the area, especially in the Lee + White development. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants continue to thrive in the community, plus kids can play soccer in the Station Soccer fields at the West End MARTA station.
The historic predominantly black neighborhood is older than the city of Atlanta as it avoided the flames during the Battle of Atlanta. The Atlanta University Center and the nearby black churches played a large part in the Civil Rights Movement.
Five fun facts about West End
The oldest home in Atlanta — yes, ever — is located in the West End. Built in 1856, the two-story home sits on Peeples Street
The West End is mile zero in the Atlanta BeltLine as it was a junction of roads, railroads and villages, going back to the Native American settlements in the area
The Wren's Nest, formerly the home of author Joel Chandler Harris, opened as a museum back in 1913, and now it's a National Historic Landmark that hosts open mics, readings and more
The neighborhood was only annexed to the City of Atlanta in 1893, after an almost devastating fire to the Wren's Nest and lack of access to a fire department
The MARTA trains hover over the same route that the original streetcar once did in the West End
Get to know Atlanta
Atlanta is a city of transplants, thanks to its busy international airport and history as a transportation hub. But with it comes incredible diversity and culture.
Despite how big the city feels at times, it's worth getting to know all of its little neighborhoods to see the fabric of what makes Atlanta, well, Atlanta.
Muriel Vega is an Atlanta-based journalist and editor who writes mostly about technology and its intersection with food and culture. She’s the managing editor of tech news publication Hypepotamus, and has contributed to The Guardian, Atlanta magazine, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, VICE and more. She spends her time eating her way through Buford Highway and exploring Atlanta's arts scene.
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