5 Great Neighborhoods in Atlanta

Take a look at five of Atlanta's best neighborhoods and decide which one is best for you.

The conversion of the Sears Building to Ponce City Market is one of Atlanta's most anticipated projects.  

Meet the Old Fourth Ward

Even though travelers from all over the globe visit Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward (O4W), many Georgians are unaware of neighborhood’s historic significance. Some don’t even know where it is. In their defense, most vacationers visit the boyhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Auburn Avenue and keep moving, rarely staying behind to explore its hidden gems just footsteps away. That appears to be changing and the area is currently knee-deep in a renaissance period; it’s even getting a streetcar.

At first glance, the O4W appears to be dominated by gritty city streets, crowded houses and very little green space. A closer look, however, reveals that the neighborhood is surrounded by or near a few of Atlanta’s most popular parks and gardens, including Historic Oakland Cemetery, Grant Park and Freedom Parkway adjacent to the Carter Center. It even boasts the ubiquitous award-winning park, Historic Fourth Ward Park, a product of the wildly popular BeltLine. It is also adjacent to some of the city’s most interesting and eclectic neighborhoods including Cabbagetown and Inman Park and extends all the way to Poncey-Highlands. 

Photo by: Grant Henry The art in Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium – a popular bar in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward – comprises hundreds of paint-by-number religious paintings from the '50s and '60s.

But wait, to know it is to love it, so let’s back up. Boulevard essentially runs through the middle of the O4W, a street that was once referred to as one of Atlanta’s most desirable addresses, post-Civil War. Boulevard was lined with opulent Victorian mansions, their splendor punctuated by blooming dogwoods and cherry blossoms. In May of 1917 a warehouse fire on the edge of downtown spread so rapidly that little could be done to spare the estates and most burned to the ground. In the years that followed, the area saw a slow but steady decline and many of the remaining homes were left in ruins. The area was laden with crime, but around 1980 Atlantans started scooping up and restoring the historic real estate in and around Grant Park. This eventually trickled out to the O4W and not only have dilapidated homes seen new life, but abandoned warehouses now play host to some of the city’s most popular loft homes, restaurants and unique retail shops. 

In 2013, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed declared the Old Fourth Ward a “zone of opportunity” and gave tax credits and incentives to new and existing businesses bringing even more jobs and commerce to the area. Edgewood benefitted greatly from these incentives and consequently Sister Louisa’s Church of the Ping Pong Emporium and the Sound Table are two bars now on the national map. Circa, Corner Tavern and Noni's do pretty well, too. To the east and on the other side of Boulevard, Parish Food & Goods, P'cheen International Bistro and Pub and Two Urban Licks are popular restaurants and watering holes. 

The crowning jewel of the Old Fourth Ward, Ponce City Market, will be revealed sometime in 2014. The 2.1-million-square-foot structure was once a Sears catalogue distribution center and then City Hall East. After sitting empty the behemoth was acquired by Jamestown, a development firm that has committed over $180 million to convert the space into a catchall with retail, restaurants, boutiques, a pre-school, offices and, of course, residential space. It also enjoys access to the Atlanta BeltLine. 

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