Dekalb Avenue_030515_AlisonGuillory - 1Dekalb Avenue is both a historic and current thoroughfare between the City of Decatur and downtown Atlanta, and some major changes are in the works! In 2015 a bond referendum was passed that allocated more than $4.5 million to improvements of the Dekalb Corridor. Renew Atlanta is reviewing public comments and working on a plan to re-envision Dekalb Ave as a “Complete Street” that works well for car, bike, transit, and pedestrian traffic. Right now, the road is not very friendly to cyclists or pedestrians, but as I was jogging down Dekalb Ave the other day, it struck me that it may not be easy to bike or walk, but it’s a really cool street!


In this list, I’ve left out places like the Little 5 Points, Fox Bros Barbecue and other fairly famous landmarks because you probably know them. Here are the top ten things about Dekalb Avenue that you may not know about. Let’s start from Inman Park and travel east:




The Civil War.

Some of the most fierce fighting during the Battle of Atlanta in 1864 happened near the Inman Park MARTA Station. Confederate soldiers marched against the Union forces near where the MARTA station is now. They broke through the Union lines only to be repulsed by Union soldiers soon after. Read more about it here.



The Cyclorama.

No, the Cyclorama is not housed on Dekalb Ave. But the vantage point from which the famous 360 degree Cyclorama was painted is at the corner of Dekalb Ave and Moreland Ave. There is a historical plaque behind a chain link fence at the site. Check it out!



The Lake Clair Community Land Trust.

This greenspace on the hill above the corner of Dekalb Ave and Arizona Ave is one of the more interesting community spaces in town. Famous for its drum circle (1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month), this is a wonderful place to relax and meet interesting people. It’s also a worthy cause to support if you are so inclined.



Biodiesel Filling Station.

Just under the MARTA tracks near the corner of Dekalb Ave and Arizona Ave is one of the city’s few biodiesel filling stations. Clean Energy Biofuels collects cooking oil waste and then uses solar energy to process it into usable biofuel. You could be driving a biodiesel vehicle with exhaust that smells like french fries!



Watershed Mural.

The “Native Waters” mural by David Fichter is one of the most beautiful, interesting, and educational murals in Atlanta. On the retaining wall on the north side of Dekalb Ave near the intersection with Connecticut Ave, this mural depicts the people, animals, creeks and rivers of Atlanta and Georgia. It’s a must-see!



The Subcontinental Divide.

Did you know that Dekalb Ave actually runs along the subcontinental divide? That’s the imaginary line north of which all water flows to the Gulf of Mexico (via the Chattahoochee) and south of which all water flows to the Atlanta Ocean (via the South River). Usually this kind of divide occurs on mountain ridges, but the small ridge on which Dekalb Ave is built is part of the Eastern Subcontinental Divide.


concrete jungle

Wild fruit.

Dekalb Avenue is home to many fruits and berries that grow wild on the roadside. Mulberry trees abound along Dekalb Ave from the Land Trust to Rocky Ford Road. In the spring, these trees produce prodigious amounts of edible fruit that can be eaten raw, cooked into compote, or made into jam. Concrete Jungle is a local organization that collects unused food growing in our city and distributes it to the hungry. They even have a map of where to find all the food-bearing plants on public land!



The Historic Pratt-Pullman Yard.

If you’ve driven Dekalb Avenue, you’ve definitely seen the giant buildings that has been used to process sugar, make munitions during World War I, and to service rail cars by the Pullman Passenger Rail Car Company. Today, the yard is used by the movie industry and graffiti artists. There’s also an informal cut-through between Arizona and College Avenues next to the yard. AtlantaContactPoint has had a dream to turn the land into a community space, but the property is up for sale now and neighbors are mobilizing for what new development that might bring.



The Stone Mountain Trail.

Though the PATH Foundation uses McClendon Ave as the official bicycle route from the Inman Park MARTA Station to Rocky Ford Road, Dekalb Ave is the more natural route. And east of Rocky Ford, there is a multi-use path on the south side of Dekalb Ave which leads to Decatur and then east to Stone Mountain. It’s a fun (though sometimes harrowing) ride to the mountain.



Independent Businesses.

This section of Dekalb Ave sports three of the best auto mechanics in the city: Roger Jordan Garage, My Favorite Mechanic, and Pete’s Import Garage. But other off-the-beaten-path favorites like Wallcrawler Rock Club, Radial Cafe, The Mercantile, and A Capella Books also line Dekalb Ave. Horizons School, a local independent school, is on Dekalb (you’ve probably seen their funky painted bus), right next to the Lake Claire Pool. On this street you’ll also find the Phillip Rush Center, which houses office space, meeting and training rooms for Atlanta groups whose mission or activities advance LGBT rights and understanding. Just think how wonderful it will be to visit these establishments once Dekalb Avenue is improved for biking and walking!


If you live near Dekalb Avenue, now is the time to pay attention to how the corridor may change. Keep up with the process on the Renew Atlanta website: