Photograph by Christopher T. Martin
As recently as the late 1990s, the DeKalb County neighborhood of Kirkwood was known for street-corner drug deals, blatant prostitution, and a crumbling central business district. An influx of families and commercial investment has softened Kirkwood’s hard edge, resulting in an urban village of roughly 5,000 people that residents call harmoniously diverse.
Incorporated in 1899, Kirkwood flourished as an early streetcar suburb but suffered in an era of urban decline in the 1970s. Middle-class residents began trickling back thirty years ago, drawn by proximity to Downtown, two MARTA stations, and a rich vein of Craftsman and Victorian homes on the National Register of Historic Places.
See and do
On the northern fringe, Sun in My Belly is a bona fide brunch destination, while on the south end, Ann’s Snack Bar is home to the famous “Ghetto Burger”—once heralded by the Wall Street Journal as America’s best burger. To burn off calories, there are several well-kept parks, refurbished rec centers, and a multiuse path along the old streetcar line.
Signature festivals are the Wine Stroll in September and the Spring Fling on May 17, a kid-friendly shindig at Bessie Branham Park with art vendors, live music, craft beer, and a barbecue cook-off. After dark, the Fling morphs into a street festival and showcase for the burgeoning business district.
“When push comes to shove, there are no better neighbors anywhere. There’s such a mix of everybody, and we all have our opinions about everything, but when somebody needs something, the people in the neighborhood are there. We call ourselves ‘Mayberry in the city.’” —Margie Yondorf, Kirkwood-based Realtor and nineteen-year resident
Median home value: $217,604
5-Yr Appreciation: 5/5 stars
School Quality: 2/5 stars
Walkability: 5/5 stars
Safety: 1/5 stars
Hip & Trendy: 5/5 stars
Gay Friendly: 5/5 stars
Ratings versus national averages by NeighborhoodScout.com. NeighborhoodScout.com is the most widely used neighborhood search engine in the world. It is owned by Location Inc., a leading builder and source of location-based data and tools for businesses and consumers nationwide.
This article originally appeared in our May 2014 issue.