The Atlanta Beltline is a 22-mile loop of reclaimed railroads that is being transformed into a life-affirming transit greenway connecting 45 neighborhoods to city schools, shopping districts, cultural destinations, and public parks. The idea started life as my graduate thesis in 1999 and today it is a $4 billion public infrastructure project in the early stages of implementation.

I wrote Where We Want to Live to tell the bona fide story of the Atlanta Beltline and to put it in a global context of urbanization and change. Chapter 7: “A Wide-Open Place” tells the grassroots story of how it came to life. Chapter 8: “An Expandable Vision” describes how a kernel of an idea grew into an even more ambitious and transformational vision. And Chapter 10: “Catalyst Infrastructure” provides eight lessons from that vision and from similar efforts around the world that are reinventing infrastructure to better support the lives of people.

The purpose of this page is not to retell that story, but to organize ongoing and up-to-date critiques of the Atlanta Beltline’s implementation. My intent is to both celebrate our success and articulate our shortcomings so that we learn from our efforts – not only for the good of the Beltline, but for all the infrastructure in our lives.

To be clear, I do not have a formal role with the Atlanta Beltline. I do not make decisions about how it is built, when it is built, or who it is built for.


  • Atlanta BeltLine website
  • Original Atlanta Belt Line thesis
  • More to come