As the neighborhood slogan goes: “The sun rises first in Atlanta in East Lake.” Indeed, this quiet, walkable community of vintage bungalows is the city’s easternmost hood. Founded in 1892 as a trolley-car suburb, the area offered country living and lakefront attractions, including a penny arcade, a swimming beach, and steamboat rides. The world-renowned East Lake Golf Club, where Bobby Jones learned the game, opened in 1908, and the community was annexed by the City in 1928.
In 1970, the historic East Lake Meadows housing project opened. But by the 1990s—thanks to white flight, neglected public facilities, and the crack epidemic—a disproportionately high crime rate had earned the area the nickname “Little Vietnam.” In 1995, local activists (such as the late Eva Davis, an early resident of East Lake Meadows), Atlanta Housing officials, and developer Tom Cousins founded the East Lake Foundation to spur growth, development, and opportunity in the neighborhood. Now, the area is a model mixed-income community built around Drew Charter School, the East Lake Family YMCA, the golf courses, and local businesses.
“It’s prospered since the ’90s to become what it is now, a shining star in the city of Atlanta as what you can do with public and private money to revitalize areas for the good of everybody,” says Rick Baldwin, president of the East Lake Neighborhood Community Association, who purchased his home there 10 years ago.
What’s to love?
Last month, the East Lake Tour of Homes returned from its pandemic hiatus. And this fall, A Grave Affair, a costume party in East View Cemetery, is where friendly neighborhood freaks will come out at night (and by day) to raise money for the East Lake Neighborhood Community Association.
Second and Hosea
The intersection of Hosea L. Williams Drive and Second Avenue illustrates East Lake’s burgeoning growth IRL. Some of the kindest baristas in the city fill cups at Perc Coffee. Next door, on Hippin Hops Brewery’s patio, locals sip sours, IPAs (try the Baby Momma Drama), and distilled spirits. Mix’D Up Burgers is just across the street. And at Poor Hendrix, rotating entrees and signature sammies go down easy while patrons chill to bartender Q’s eclectic, smooth playlists.
East Lake Park
Looking to live out your hoop dreams? Need a playground for the kiddos? Want to flex those newly acquired pickleball skills? This 10-acre recreational space, nestled between Memorial Drive and Alston Drive next to East Lake Golf Club, has family-friendly amenities for everyone. Zaban Recreation Center offers indoor activities.
A Golf Lover’s Paradise
East Lake Golf Club is accessible only to members, except during the PGA Tour Championship. The annual event (this year, August 23–27) features the FedEx Cup’s top 30 pro golfers, and anyone can attend (tickets from $35). The club’s adjacent nine-hole course, Charlie Yates, is open for public play. Fun fact: Nearby Drew Charter’s 2019 golf team was the first all-Black, public-school squad to win a state championship.
My Coffee Shop
A classic Southern breakfast that feels like it came from Grandma’s kitchen is the vibe at this Black-owned spot at Memorial Drive and Fourth Avenue. Head to the cabinet by the door and choose from a selection of vintage mugs donated by regulars. Your fish and grits will taste even better with a glass of basil lemonade. Sure, waits can be long (go before church lets out on Sunday), but greatness shouldn’t be rushed.
This article appears in our July 2023 issue.