Atlanta 2040: What life will look like in the city’s third century

Downtown can look like Paris

The urban core of metro Atlanta will be much denser with a lot more people just everywhere—think of Five Points, bustling with people and taller buildings—with more transit and pedestrian-oriented streets. There’s no doubt that will happen—vibrant, exciting, all that. The capacity of the city is significant. We can protect natural watersheds and tree canopies and still urbanize significantly. All the famous places of Paris fit within the same geography of the Atlanta BeltLine. We can do a lot more with what we have. Right now, I’m staring at two parking lots right across from the BeltLine. We can do better than that.

But we must figure out equity and affordability. If not, it will be a very beautiful place—for people who can afford it. The center city will be beautiful and exciting and interesting. Our challenge is making sure that’s available for everyone.

Ryan Gravel, creator of the Atlanta BeltLine and founder of Sixpitch, an urban design firm