To know and appreciate Atlanta, one has to understand and get to know its wealth of diverse neighborhoods. From millionaire mansions to modest, working-class houses, Atlanta is a city of varying communities connected by a network of numerous roads and rails.
Its various community districts, each with its own treasure chest of history and homes, is one of the many characteristics that make the city so unique. Neighborhoods with funny names like Buckhead or Cabbagetown are just a part and parcel of others, like Inman Park, Grant Park and Ansley Park, which were so named to honor former community leaders who helped make Atlanta the great city it is.
It is certainly worthwhile for new residents as well as tourists to spend some time becoming familiar with the city’s many distinct districts. Whether one prefers a gated country-club community or high-rise condo, a lofty mansion or a downtown loft, a home of one’s choosing can be found if persistence and flexibility are readily exercised.
Even though real estate is priced more reasonably in Atlanta than most other cities, prices have risen steadily in the last 10 years. And as traffic becomes a greater concern, prices for homes closer to the heart of the city have climbed.
As an example, it is noted that real estate in East Cobb is usually $10,000 to $20,000 more than comparable homes on the west side, where the access to the interstate system is less convenient.
On the cheerful side, Atlanta does provide, within a good distance of the downtown area, everything buyers can hope for in housing opportunities, from pleasant country estates to comfortable high-rise condominiums.
Although not all of Atlanta’s neighborhoods and connecting counties are entirely integrated, as a whole the city is now more multiracial than ever before. Segregation is a thing of the past, and black and white Atlantans, as well as those of other races and nationalities, have learned to live, work, play and worship together throughout Atlanta’s numerous communities with an ease impossible just a few decades ago.
The 1996 Olympics were also instrumental in integrating Atlanta into a modern, racially shared city and caused the city to spruce up and restore many of Atlanta’s run-down and abandoned districts. So there is good housing, schooling and friendly neighborhoods to be found everywhere, not just in downtown or on the west side.
The metro area has thousands of apartments for rent at nearly every price level. Some areas, such as the Buford Highway in northeast Atlanta and the Chattahoochee River area in Cobb, have large concentrations of apartments. But you can also find apartments in areas such as Midtown and Garden Hills, which are best known for their single-family homes.
Most of downtown’s restored living space is rented. Loft units, boasting high ceilings, hardwood floors and exposed pipes, go for anywhere from $495 to $1,600. Not far away, loft condominiums in the warehouse area have sold for as much as $165,000.
A working-class neighborhood full of modest homes and sleepy streets lies west of Peachtree and south of 14th Street is Home Park. Popular with the fixer-upper crowd and students from nearby Georgia Tech, rentals can be had for $400 and up, and home prices run between $90,000 and $150,000.
In northeast Atlanta is Inman Park, noted on the National Register of Historic Places and home to Atlanta’s Mayor Bill Campbell. Residences here range from bungalows needing work to fully restored Victorian mansions, with prices starting at $110,00 and up to $850,000 for a four or five bedroom home
A major housing area is Vine City. It is divided by Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and where the addresses change from northwest to southwest. Until his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived with his family in the house at 234 Sunset Street N.W. Today the area has middle-class and poor areas, and housing prices range from $30,000 to $50,000, and sometimes more.
West of Vine City is Mozley Park, where the Battle of Ezra Church was fought during the Atlanta Campaign. After a black clergyman and his family braved the color barrier in 1949, the area gradually acquired more minority residents than whites. Home prices in Mozley Park usually run from $45,000 to $95,000.
Another reasonably-priced neighborhood is the Summerhill district, which still enjoys the benefit of having had the Olympics in its front yard. The neighborhood’s convenient location near the downtown business district has helped attract a new wave of residents. And with its new upscale town house community, has helped pull buyers into the area. Summerhill home prices start in the $30,000s and go into the mid-$60,000s.
Another buyer-friendly neighborhood is Cabbagetown, which consists of many narrow streets and tiny houses that are set close together. Here, as in other parts of town, good bargains on in-town homes continue to lured buyers, and home prices range from $50,000 to $75,000.
Atlanta’s public and private schools educate students from ages two to 22 and older. In addition, Atlanta boasts several top-notch colleges and universities. Among these are John Marshall Law School, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, Atlanta Metropolitan College, Atlanta College of Art, Morris Brown College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Georgia State University.
Georgia’s public schools have made significant improvements since the state established the Georgia Lottery for Education in 1992. Lottery revenues have helped fund a number of new programs for Georgia’s public schools, including 15 regional Technology Training Centers, the HOPE scholarship program and a voluntary prekindergarten program for 4-year-olds.
Currently, the City of Atlanta system serves about 60,000 students in 97 schools (70 elementary, 16 middle and 11 high) where the student-teacher ratio is 16 to 1. And there are also somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 private schools operating throughout Atlanta’s multi-county school system providing education to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Atlanta is home to some really friendly outdoor parks where one can relax and take in the sights.
Centennial Olympic Park is one of the most popular of area parks, and features a decorative mosaic of grass-green patches and various geometric shapes composed in red brick. Visitors can take in The Quilt of Remembrance, a memorial to those killed by the bomb planted here during the 1996 Olympics.
Grant Park, near the corner of Berne Street and Boulevard Atlanta, is another. The park has cozy glens, abundant small hills, gazebos and open pavilions and also contains the Atlanta Zoo.
There’s also Kennesaw Mountain National Park, which commemorates the 1864 Civil War battle for Atlanta. Today the park encloses 2,882 acres of protected land and boasts 16 miles of hiking trails. Historic markers and memorials offer information about significant battle sites and events, and there is a small museum that exhibits Civil War-era artifacts.
Then there is Piedmont Park, which has seemingly become the center of outdoor and recreational activities for Atlantan residents. Virtually any game and activity imaginable can be experienced here, and the park also hosts various memorials that bear witness to the city’s illustrious past.