Atlanta Artist's Sculptures Dot Georgia Landscape

Phil Proctor's "Column" was chosen as a permanent fixture on the Atlanta BeltLine for its representation of the city's railroad past.

Atlanta's Phil Proctor, "Column"

Photo courtesy Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. A crane puts the finishing touches on Proctor's contribution to the Art on the BeltLine display.

We’ve been talking a lot about the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine project and are very excited about a 23-foot tall Corinthian column by Atlanta artist Phil Proctor because of its nod to the past. Proctor conceived the 13-ton column as a way of representing Atlanta’s architectural and railroad history. The structure is constructed out of railroad artifacts and is reminiscent of the Corinthian columns that once graced the façade of the former Union Station, which was the city’s main railroad station. 

Last year, BeltLine officials made a call for entries for permanent pieces that reflected Atlanta’s transportation past. Proctor’s sculpture was chosen from over 20 entries and can be found east of the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, along the Eastside Trail.

Atlanta Rail Yard, Circa 1864

Photo by Buyenlarge/Archive Photos/Getty Images Many parts of the Atlanta BeltLine once belonged to the Atlanta's rail system. Seen in this photo are the railroad depot and yard with the Trout House and Masonic Hall in the background.

“I have always been intrigued by classical architecture,” said Proctor. “As I was researching Atlanta’s history, I noticed how the classical styles implemented in old rail stations have since been lost to war, neglect, or to make way for new steel and glass buildings. The goal of this sculpture is to celebrate the history of Atlanta and recognize the significant role of the railroad.”

This stretch of railroad once acted as a border between neighborhoods and helped establish Atlanta as a business center. People from all walks of life had access to transportation. They were suddenly upwardly mobile. 

Atlanta Rail Bombed by Sherman

Photo by: Buyenlarge/Archive Photos/Getty Images Taken in 1865, the photo depicts the ruins of the Atlanta train depot, blown up on Gen. Sherman's departure during the Civil War.  

Over the years, the corridor has been mostly abandoned and neglected. Frankly, the area was pretty unsightly. Now, the historic rail is being dismantled, debris is being cleared and the corridor will soon be ready for public use again. Proctor’s installation not only represents the history of the area as a rail corridor, but also brings beauty through art to the area.

The sculpture was made possible through a donation from Georgia Chapter of the International Interior Design Association. Though it is already on display, it will be “unveiled” this Saturday, September 7 at the 2013 Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition, the largest temporary public art project in Atlanta. Several of Proctor’s sculptures can be seen all over Atlanta. Check out the gallery above to see more of his art. 

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