Atlanta BeltLine offers everything from public art to jogging trails


Located in the heart of Atlanta, the BeltLine displays public art along trails that cut through urban midtown and downtown neighborhoods. The opportunity to stroll along the trails on a brisk autumn day, admire artistic graffiti on the undersides of bridges, and dine at restaurants lining the path makes the BeltLine weekend destination.

“The BeltLine, in general, helps the community think about how we can use our space more creatively,” said art teacher Ben Steele. “The program Art on the BeltLine has been encouraging artists to submit proposals and install work somewhere along the BeltLine in reaction to the environment [and community in Atlanta].”

Indeed, the BeltLine boasts the largest temporary art exhibition in the city, featuring musicians and performances as well as sculptures and paintings. Art on the BeltLine began in 2010 and by 2011 the number of art projects it oversaw had increased by 30 percent.

“[The BeltLine] contributes to Atlanta’s culture because it is a way for people in Atlanta to come together and see the work of different Atlanta artists,” said senior Libby Thompson. “It has different sculptures and you can submit ideas to have different projects of yours hung on the BeltLine or painted in different places.”

The art on the BeltLine is arranged in such a way so that a person never has to leave the trails to view a piece of artwork.  Sculptures are located on the sides of pathways with descriptions by each artist about their particular piece and the inspiration behind it. In addition, giant murals adorn the undersides of bridges, including one by Brandon Sadler featuring a giant psychedelic fish . His inspiration for this piece comes from human relationships in the 21st century, unity within a community, and how people can find themselves in the city.

“Public art, when it’s done well, takes something from the environment,” said Steele. “I’m an artist, so I love going just to a gallery and seeing that work as well, and to some degree there’s also something really nice about considering an object totally removed from any context.”

The BeltLine, however, encourages artists to relate their pieces to Atlanta’s culture.  Performances and exhibitions are selected to showcase Atlanta’s vibrant artistic background and promote more public participation in the arts.

“The art on the BeltLine reflects how everything around what you’re making influences it and how it takes meaning from things around you,” said Steele. “The population of a city is also a really easy way to access ideas in the art.”

Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel first envisioned the BeltLine in 1999. It now contains 33 miles of pathways for bicyclists, roller skaters, and pedestrians.  The main idea behind the project is to improve transportation in Atlanta by increasing the amount of walking trails in the city, and the BeltLine will soon be able to connect 45 neighborhoods with its trails.  Marta stations and other transportation services can also be accessed easily from the BeltLine.

“The BeltLine is the manifestation of what Atlanta always wanted to be and should have been: ‘A city in a forest’,” said senior Beau Martin. “Instead of dividing the city into nature and urban, the BeltLine brings veins of nature into the city.”

A relatively new project, the BeltLine is still under construction with new trails and art exhibitions popping up every year as the city develops.

“[The BeltLine] is always changing; every visit is an entirely different look at the art of Atlanta,” said senior Sarah Richard. “New amenities are going up all the time because the BeltLine is such an exciting area of Atlanta – there is a skate park, a playground, bike tours, lots of food places, and amazing art at every turn. If you like to run, where else can you see art while exercising?”

The Lantern Parade opens the art exhibition on the BeltLine every year, and this year, on Sept. sixth, more than 20,000 participants carried lanterns along the Eastside trail of the BeltLine.

Lantern Parade 1

“There were times [at the Lantern Parade] when you were walking and you looked up and as far as you could see there were lanterns and people everywhere,” said senior Sang-Jin Lee. “There were people on the sides of the road watching, everyone was having fun, and there was music playing and sculptures everywhere.  It was really awesome.”

Chantelle Rytter, the founder of the Lantern Parade, actually taught the Westminster students in Creating Communities how to make their own lanterns before they attended the event this year.

“My thought was that if the Creating Communities club was going to go to the Lantern Parade we should make lanterns,” said Steele. “On one open studio, which was five to eight p.m. in the art studio,  [Rytter] came and brought all the art materials and walked us through how to make our own lanterns.  We made them then and it’s a lot of work so we didn’t necessarily finish, but the students worked in their free periods to get them done.”

Beyond hosting events and showcasing art, the BeltLine also provides access to restaurants in the midtown and downtown areas of Atlanta.  King of Pops, a favorite popsicle stand in the city, has carts set up on the trails selling their one-of-a-kind popsicles in flavors such as chocolate sea salt, grapefruit mint, and raspberry lime.

“There’s a lot of cool restaurants that are right off of [the BeltLine],” said Thompson. “You can just be walking and find a new restaurant.”

This accessibility permeates the entire BeltLine experience. In fact, the Park Tavern restaurant has a large public parking lot utilized by visitors to the Eastside trail.  Most of the art on the BeltLine is located on this trail, although some pieces can also be viewed along the Westside trail.  In addition, several artistic performances will be taking place on the BeltLine this month.

“If you haven’t been to [the Beltline],” said Steele. “You are missing the best new part of your city.”

Works Cited

“Artists: Continuing Exhibition.” The Atlanta BeltLine. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2014. <>.

“Art on the BeltLine.” The Atlanta BeltLine. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014. <>.

“The Atlanta BeltLine: The 5 Ws and Then Some.” Atlanta BeltLine. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014. <>.