Nearly tucked into the grass is this sign. It features a picture of a crane, and the phrase “Atlantification.” The sign is a diamond and triangular, like one warning about construction areas. I can only infer, but to me, the piece felt like a commentary about Atlanta’s habit of destroying and rebuilding rather than adapting, though a bit ironic message to be on the Beltline, a poster for urban reuse.
Ponce City Market, perhaps the Beltline’s most famous and biggest attraction, was in a festive spirit last week. Fake cobwebs and other iconic Halloween decorations dotted the shopping center. Next to several large tables on the second floor was this display featuring several pumpkins, skeletons, cobwebbed trees, and more.
This picture may seem rather unremarkable, but it stuck out to me. This was my third trip to the Beltline, a sunny Saturday afternoon. My first two trips took place on a rainy Sunday evening and the middle of a Thursday. Thus every other time that I had passed this clearing, I saw no one else. Saturday, however, it was full. A symphony of chatter filled the air, and kids were running everywhere. It truly showed off the desirability of the Beltline.
The Beltline line contains yet another a unique exhibit: an arboretum. The Beltline plans to create the longest arboretum in the world at 22 miles. Together, the Beltline and Trees Atlanta plan to restore the ecology surrounding the entirety of the trail. Currently, the Eastside Trail encompasses more than 190,000 individual plans across 43 varieties of wildflower and grass species. The group intends to plant hundreds of trees throughout the upcoming Westside Trail. This feature of the Beltline, beyond the wonderful aesthetic, has opened educational opportunities to learn about ecology, conduct research, and work on restoration projects, while offering a history of Atlanta’s floral history.
Each different species of tree has a marker in front of providing details about (pictured above). As seen in the picture, the marker identifies the tree ( a China Snow) with its common and scientific name, names who “donated” the tree (Atlanta Beltline and Atlanta Trees), and denotes where the tree originates from (China, Japan, Korea).
For more info, go to http://beltline.org/programs/atlanta-beltline-arboretum/
Several artworks have signs like this one, that give information on the piece and the artist. The top of the sign lists the artist’s name, then the name of the piece, and then a paragraph written by the artist that explains the piece. It adds to the art museum effect of the Beltline by offering information on the art.
We had a short discussion of benches when we looked at my first collage of artifacts, so naturally, I was on the lookout for another one. This one resembles something out of the Flintstones. It has curvy wood separated by three points by large stone circles. Going back to our classroom discussion, we talked about how benches are often made thinner to prevent homeless people from sleeping on them. For this bench, it is definitely slim, and the curves would prevent someone sleeping even more. As usual, I hope that this is simply an artistic choice.
As most know, the Beltline is focused on the unused railroads that led to the city’s construction. Unfortunately, few know about the beauty destroyed when the rail stations were demolished. Atlanta’s main central depot, Atlanta Union Station, was built in 1853, razed by Union forces during the Civil War in 1864, rebuilt in 1870, then relocated in 1930. Passenger rail activity ended in 1971, and the city finally bulldozed the station in 1972. Pictured above, one can see the beautiful 1930 station (picture taken 1946). Below, one can see what it is today: a parking lot.
Everything feels like art along the Beltline, and the art present does not limit itself to sculptures and murals, even the benches are something special. Pictured above is one of those benches. This bench, titled “Nature’s Way,” is situated in a small clearing, backdropped by trees and an apartment complex. Rather than being completely straight, the structure zig-zags several times, and the surfaces feature different patterns of yellow and black that symbolize scenes like flowers and farming fields. Of course, you can also sit on the bench, not just look at it.
Underneath a bridge, two parallel walls each feature a mural. The above picture features one of them. In the center, an enormous black and dark yellow bee emerges from a similarly sized and colored flower. Several smaller bees, also the same black and yellow, spiral out from the center, surrounding the largest bee and flower. Chinese letters flank the bees on either side. Closest to the bees, the letters are bigger and change along a spectrum vertically: the highest row is a very bright yellow, nearly white, followed by two rows a standard yellow then darker yellow below, and ended with a shade that resembles a dark red. Outside of these letters are smaller and scattered black letters. On the leftward side out of the picture’s range, the artist has signed his or her name.
Quickly after entering the Beltline, I found my first piece of art (and would later be stunned by the quantity present): a sculpture, in the image above. In short, the sculpture shows a skateboarder, standing several feet taller than the people passing by. Both the skateboard and skateboarder are constructed out of typical piping, red for the rider and blue for the board, with skateboard wheels that look like little car tires.