Atlanta Beltline Tour Group

Atlanta Beltline Tour Group

October 8, 2022

 This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...je voudrais crier a mes nouveaux amis! 3 voyageurs impressionnants de Marseille and an awesome Atlanta-based orchestra teacher!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
..Trees Atlanta inventory map!

Trees Atlanta has planted over 150,000 trees in Atlanta...and they are ALL mapped here! Take a look...it is pretty cool and a great learning resource.


Thanks, Trees Atlanta!

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

Hands down, the shrub that elicited the most chatter during our talk was the sumac found on "Succession Hill" next to Freedom Parkway and along the eastside of the trail as one approaches Ralph McGill. My new french besties were quick to point out that they use sumac as an acidic flavoring in cooking, especially in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. I'm not advocating it, but it is certainly worth looking into!

"Made from the coarsely ground berries of a variety of sumac bush, it's used as much for its bright color and presentation as it is for its flavor, which is often described as slightly salty, tart citrus."


Smooth sumac

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: You described the long low limbs of the live oak tree as supporting "spanish moss" and that we might know it from trees shown in spooky movies. We've seen it in movies...and it's a real thing? What exactly is Spanish moss?

A: Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is an epiphytic flowering plant that often grows upon large trees in tropical and subtropical climates. It is native to much of Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Central America, South America, the Southern United States, and West Indies.


Tillandsia usneoides


August 13, 2022

This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to the Decatur and Meet-up gangs! 17 energetic adults, 3 awesome kids, and me!



Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...Atlanta railroads and the Zero Milepost!

As we stood on the Atlanta Beltline at North Avenue, we looked to the east and south to the Georgia Pacific tower, roughly next to the Zero Milepost, where Atlanta began! Here is is on a map, showing the rail line from downtown Atlanta to the Hulsey Yards, then from Hulsey yards north on what is now the Atlanta Beltline Eastside trail.


Thanks, Railfan!

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

One of my favorite questions to ask: "There are 33 species of oak native to Georgia, many of them here along the Atlanta Beltline Aboretum. What do you think: between the Southern Live Oak and the Georgia Oak, which is the Georgia State Tree? The Southern Live Oak, of course!"


Interpretive drawing of Sourthern Live Oak

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: Is that soccer field (adjacent to the skate park) part of Old Fourth Ward Park?

A: Officially, no, but I can't find out who *is* in charge of it! Stay tuned!


June 11, 2022, 9:00AM

 This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to to TWO future docents, a visiting Chicagoan and the rest of our intrepid, early Saturday crew!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...Atlanta's railroads in 1887!

We talked about the founding of Atlanta in 1837 and the growth of the railroads to Chattanooga, Augusta, and LaGrange up to 1868 when Atlanta became the state capital. The Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail follows a railroad developed after 1868, Southern RR that eventually linked Atlanta to Charlotte.


Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

As we walked under the Freedom Parkway overpass and into the "Frederick Law Olmstead"-themed section of the arboretum, among the species of trees planted here due to their large, upright, stately growth is the Swamp White Oak. True to its name, "...the swamp white oak typically grows on hydromorphic soils. It is not found where flooding is permanent, although it is usually found in broad stream valleys, low-lying fields, and the margins of lakes, ponds, or sloughs."


Swamp white oak 

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: What's that plant?

A: Other than "really interesting", the plant we spied growing in deep shade under the sassafras and box elders trees appears to be a "Lords and Ladies" plant. Also, just really odd looking!


Lords and Ladies

April 9, 2022, 9:00AM

This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to to future docents and hardy Atlantans that braved our first ever tour HAILSTORM! Thank goodness for the Two Urban Licks dock overhang across from 3 tree hill!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...Atlanta's 1904 expansion!

In the map below, I outlined the 822 acre city expansion in red, the portion of the Eastside Trail we walked in yellow, and circled a bit of naming history in red...the southeast railroad section nicknamed the "Belt Line", a name that long predates Ryan Gravel's 1999 master thesis and the pedestrian corridor as we know it today!   


Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

One of the species comprising the large hardwood themed section of the Eastside Trail is the mighty white oak! Long lived (up to 500 years and counting!) and "supportive"! From NYT article "Why You Should Plant Oaks": "Oaks support more life-forms than any other North American tree genus, providing food, protection or both for birds to bears, as well as countless insects and spiders, among the enormous diversity of species." 

You grow, white oak! 


White oak 
(Quercus alba)  

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: There were 2 [main] passenger rail station in Atlanta, Union and Terminal, right?

A: Yup...and Jeff mixed up his stories!!! While both passenger terminals were razed around the same time (1971-1972), and the loss of both fueled the Atlanta preservation movement that helped preserve the Fabulous Fox Theater in 1974, the beautiful Corinthian column along the trail is an homage to the architecture of Union Station.

Terminal Station does have a connection to the Eastside Trail and connections to today; it served Southern Railway and Atlanta & West Point, both former railroads on the Beltline. There's also that statue of Samuel Spencer, first president of Southern Railway; it survived the demolition of Terminal Station and moved to Norfolk Southern Peachtree HQ, but did not make the move to the new NS HQ. History and its relevance to modern life can be difficult to contextualize.  

Terminal Station, 1905-1972
Union Station (3rd interation), 1930-1971

March 12, 2022

      This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to to the one person brave enough to take on the Eastside trail in 30 deg with snow flurries! Dan The Man! (and soon to be Trees Atlanta Docent...possibly joining me in giving Eastside Arboretum Tours!)


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...of the Beltline Eastside Trail's first railroad! From ATL RAIL:

"The first segment of Atlanta’s belt line system was completed in 1873 by the Atlanta & Richmond Air-Line Railway as part of a main line from Charlotte to Atlanta. By 1877, the company was in receivership, but was purchased and its name changed to the Atlanta & Charlotte Air-Line. In 1881, the line was permanently leased to the Richmond & Danville Railroad. In 1894, both the Richmond & Danville and the Atlanta & Charlotte, were reorganized out of receivership into a new company: the Southern Railway. This rail line subsequently became known as the Southern Railway Belt."


Thanks, ATL RAIL!!

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

In honor of their beautiful display of early spring flowers, this month's "tree" is actually part of the genus Rhododendron; our beautiful native azalea collection on the "Freedom Parkway" spur. Definitely check them out ASAP. Here's one example of over 14 varieties of native azaleas that are native to Georgia; the piedmont azalea.


Piedmont azalea 
(Rhododendron canescens).  

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: What do Trees Atlanta docents do?

A: From the Trees Atlanta website, the docent "program trains volunteers to become a volunteer docent for Trees Atlanta’s walking tours of trees or prepare to speak to groups about Trees Atlanta’s mission and projects." But it's even more than that; simply put, docents help connect Trees Atlanta's mission with the larger Atlanta community. Enthusiasm! Education! Involvement! 


Who dat docent?

February 12, 2022

    This Week's Tour...

...met at 9:00AM Saturday on the Beltline Eastside Trail near Parish (R.I.P...soon to reopen as "Painted Park"!). We walked for 1 1/2 hours, covering 1 mile of the Beltline, ending at Ponce City Market.

"The Tourists"...
...shouting out to this week's tourists, another good-sized group braved the cold, including brand new Atlantans as well as Morningside neighbors!


Thanks for a great tour!

Map of the week...
...1960's era I-485 route proposed to connect downtown with (what is now) SR 400 to the north and Stone Mountain to the east. The project was officially shutdown in 1975 by then Governor Busbee, but not before hundreds of homes were acquired and demolished thru the eminent domain process. 

To many, freeway projects can have many negative impacts (displaced locals, divided communities, increased traffic/pollution), but I feel that this story has a silver lining. The end result of the cancelled project included: The formation of neighborhood civic groups that continue to provide feedback and guidance to the Atlanta City Council and the creation of several new parks: 

4) Freedom Park
3) John Howell Park
2) Sidney Marcus Park
1) Morningside Nature Preserve*

* Starting in 1999, land that had been acquired from GDOT by a developer, through "hard work of the neighborhood, and support from the City of Atlanta, the Wildwood Urban Forest was saved from development." Today, it continues to educate and delight as the Morningside Nature Preserve!


Thanks, Wikipedia!!

Tree of the week...
...singling out one of the hundreds of specimens from the dozens of collections along the arboretum.

In this case, the entire genus "Magnolia"! Many of us are familiar with the grand, native, evergreen Magnolia grandiflora or "Southern Magnolia", but planted in a gorgeous, flowering alley running north along the Beltline from Ponce City market to about Greenwood St are several showy, non-native but non-invasive, species. Definitely check them out now thru March! 


Magnolia virginiana ... M. stellata  ... M. liliiflora  

"Stump" of the week...
...featuring a question raised during the tour that Jeff couldn't answer.

Q: What is an acre?

A: When we talked about the part of the Beltline Corridor adjacent to the Eastside Trail that is planted with native grasses and flowers, I mentioned that Trees Atlanta had planted 8 1/2 acres with more than 100,000 plants! The next question...what is an acre? Well, I tried to explain in relatable terms: "I'm from Virginia Highland...my house is on an intown lot that is about 1/5 of an acre. So 5 of those is an acre...and 42 1/2 of my houses would be 8 1/2 acres! 

Now, according to Wikipedia, the official definition of one acre is: " ...the area of one chain by one furlong (66 by 660 feet), which is exactly equal to 10 square chains, 1⁄640 of a square mile, 4,840 square yards, or 43,560 square feet, and approximately 4,047 m2, or about 40% of a hectare."

I left my furlong at home, so imma stick with 8 1/2 acres = "42 1/2 houses!"


180 ft x 50 ft = 1/5 acre!