What’s the worst street in Atlanta (and why is it DeKalb Avenue)?

Plus: Readers sound off on the bumpiest rides in metro ATL

What’s the worst street in Atlanta (and why is it DeKalb Avenue)?
Just the absolute worst

Photograph by Martha Williams

This story is part of Atlanta magazine’s Streets Issue—a block-by-block exploration of our city and the stories it tells. Find the entire package here.

“It’s been a hated road since its conception,” says Serena McCracken, a research manager at the Atlanta History Center, speaking about—well, go ahead and guess. In anticipation of this issue, Atlanta magazine asked followers on Instagram to tell us which local street they liked least; the response was overwhelming. Hating DeKalb Avenue is a quintessential part of the Atlanta experience.

A 1938 article in the Atlanta Constitution declared the street a “topographical disgrace,” just as it was set to be paved. The expectation was that it would become one of Atlanta’s “finest boulevards.” Various plans for improvement have existed throughout the years, as drivers have anguished over the reversible lane (aka the suicide lane), the occasional need to make a left turn (how exactly are you supposed to do it?)—not to mention the street’s cavernous potholes, jarring metal plates, and frequent congestion.

DeKalb’s status as our most-hated street might be at risk, though—finally. In 2021, crews began working on improvements that include the removal of the reversible lane, the addition of designated left-turn lanes (including at the notorious Krog Street intersection)—and, yes, resurfacing. According to a City of Atlanta project tracker, it’s expected to wrap up in 2023.

For now, though, DeKalb is a uniter of sorts—receiving, in our (admittedly unscientific) poll, almost 10 times as many votes as the second-place finisher, Howell Mill Road (which, as one astute respondent pointed out, is what you’ll end up on if you drive west on DeKalb long enough). “I think the coolest thing about this road is that it’s just notoriously always been hated,” says McCracken. “People really, really hate this road.”

The poll
In the space of a few days, 427 people told us which street they hated most, and many told us why. Here are the—ahem—“winners,” plus some choice comments.

DeKalb Avenue: 242
Howell Mill Road: 25
Moreland Avenue: 24
Piedmont Road: 20
Some variation on “all of them”: 15
The rest, combined: 101

We also asked our followers on Instagram to tell us which local street they liked the least, and why. Responses were voluminous, vociferous—and not entirely unpredictable.

  • Mad Max: Fury Road was filmed on DeKalb Ave. —djpasker
  • Obviously Piedmont. Remember those months where it was literally a road of metal plates!? —samrclark4
  • Cheshire Bridge been closed so long y’all forgot —lyn_ben
  • DeKalb Avenue has gone so far past potholes . . . it’s now full of pot trenches, pot gullies, pot caverns, and pot craters. —jacorbitt 
  • My car sighs every time the route mentions DeKalb —m.ichael
  • I believe the potholes on Northside are sentient —fahamupecou
  • N. Druid Hills is hella crunchy between Clairmont Rd. & Lawrenceville Hwy! It’s raggelly! —theprestige49
  • Moreland kills the most people. How do you define “bad?” —rowa323
  • DeKalb Avenue is like driving on a box grater. —runwithtweezers
  • Dekaglgdshhvlb….Sorry I was trying to type this while driving down DeKalb Ave. —austnjones 
  • Once saw a hubcap fly off one car and hit another after a run in with a DeKalb Ave pothole —rubyvelle
  • Crossing Moreland as a pedestrian sucks so much —jaydengardiner
  • Howell Mill. Covered in potholes top to bottom, way too narrow for cars but still super dangerous and inhospitable to pedestrians. —jasondeanharris
  • Cheshire MF Bridge —luvsickriot
  • W. Peachtree st. The potholes alone could fill up Truist park’s outfield. —abcompton2002 
  • I had to get my suspension fixed + new tires twice while living off DeKalb. A nightmare street. britmase
  • I don’t see how anyone could say anything other than DeKalb. Between the 12” deep potholes every few feet, people turning left on Arizona & Krog and the terrifying thought of people not understanding the suicide lane – it’s a nightmare. —thecornbreadkid
  • Everywhere —indelible.one
  • Whole round of 285! —jukka.marjomaa
  • All crosswalks for pedestrians are fairly chaotic in Atlanta — everyone is wildly impatient and most drivers don’t care if you have right of way. Atlanta driving is sort of chaotic by default. Dekalb Ave and Moreland 1000% the worst all round —laineycos
  • That little patch of MLK between Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Ted Turner —yessirjamesii
  • I think I agree on Dekalb based on the road, but when It comes to drivers Moreland is like fury road. —jasonjtatum
  • Has anyone said DeKalb Avenue ? —christian7fitz 

This article appears in our August 2022 issue.