In high school, my friends and I considered ourselves quite the urban explorers. We broke into abandoned insane asylums, prisons, and hiked around on the Beltline before it was paved and manicured into the urban beauty it is today. Back then, I had no idea what would come of the dilapidated old train tracks, but I’m so glad we took these pictures.
That bridge up ahead is North Highland Ave. Today, this pathway is filled with cyclists, walkers, runners, and everyone in between on their way to or from Piedmont Park (excuse the ugly pink purse, I made it myself and was very proud) (you know what, just excuse how we look in general, we were 16. I thought jorts were okay?).
These two pictures above are inside what is now Parish Market—it used to be an abandoned bank building! There was even a vault with a heavy metal door, and as we tiptoed inside to explore, I was terrified some evil stranger might come behind and slam it shut.
To the left of where this picture was taken is Two Urban Licks (you can see the Telephone Factory Lofts up ahead on the left). We met a guy here who told us they’d recently found a dead homeless person in the brush off to the right of this picture; it was in the news and everything. I was always the more cautious one, so after this I would go exploring with a knife and 911 ready on my phone.
The bridge overlooking North Ave/The Masquerade. You can also see the spot where the Old Fourth Ward Park is now—it used to be a dirt lot used for Masquerade parking.
And this amazing sight is the Ponce bridge! Probably one of the first parts of the Beltline I saw completed once they got started. Just check out the overgrowth past the bridge! This structure used to be incredibly ugly and unsafe, with open holes in the bridge that led directly to the street below. On the left, Ford Factory Lofts!
Eastside trail, leading up to Ponce City Market/Paris on Ponce. I can’t remember if PCM was still City Hall East at this point, or if it’d already been closed.
Nasty old fences, construction, and more decay. And me, wearing flip flops to trek through it.
I’m not even sure where this is specifically, I know it’s leading up to where Atlanta Beltline Bikes is now.
A picture of teenage me on the bridge over Ralph McGill, you can see the Telephone lofts again on the right (and Ponce City Market way off in the distance).
Between you and me, internet, I’m loving the new look!