“My favorite place to hang out and catch some sun in Atlanta is the BeltLine. It is a convenient place to meet with friends as it connects just about every major neighborhood inside the perimeter. Along the BeltLine you can find me at New Realm Brewery drinking some IPA and catching the best view of the Atlanta skyline.”
Frank Popola, Sales Engineer KRP/EV Sales, at ANDRITZ Inc.
The A, A-Town, A community
On November 11th, 1867, during the American Civil War, Union troops burned Atlanta to the ground. After the end of the war, its residents quickly returned and although about 90% of the buildings had been destroyed, the people teamed up and quickly rebuilt their city. A year later Atlanta became the capital of Georgia. This effort of the community is still held high with the mythical bird the Phoenix becoming the city’s symbol, representing the resurrection from the ashes, and likewise the city’s motto "Resurgens" meaning “to rise again”.
This bustling metropolis abounds in community spirit and brings visitors from around the world and who’s airport Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport holds the title of the busiest passenger airport in the world because of its location as a major connecting hub and port of entry. It’s no wonder that it is headquarters to many Fortune 500 companies including Mercedes Benz and some of North America’s largest paper mills including Georgia Pacific, WestRock, Neenah Paper, and Pratt Industries.
Our colleague Kristina Holdorf teamed up with the pulp and paper team at the US Head Office - ANDRITZ Inc. in Alpharetta, to show you around and get some insight into this city including must-see spots, things to do, restaurants to try and best community hubs.
Centennial Olympic Park
We start our tour right in downtown. The Centennial Olympic Park was originally built for the Centennial Olympic Games hosted in Atlanta in 1996. The teamwork behind this park is symbolically immortalized on the paved ground. The area was partly financed by the sale of 800,000 engraved paving stones to private individuals, which were then used extensively as the pavement material. One of the highlights of the park is the Fountain of Rings. This interactive fountain in the shape of the five Olympic rings uses computer-controlled lights and 251 water jets to shoot the water to the rhythm of the music up to 10 meters high. “After the end of the Olympic Games, the area served as a catalyst for a thriving live-work-play district that includes various popular attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, Center for Civil and Human Rights, College Football Hall of Fame, and the World of Coca-Cola,” explains Kristina.
The Georgia Aquarium is our next stop and another place you should not miss when visiting Atlanta. Near the Centennial Olympic Park, it is one of the largest aquariums in the world. The imposing blue metal and glass complex is supposed to resemble an ark. Similar to the Olympic Park, it was financed with generous donations from several well-known companies in the region which teamed up to enable this impressive sight. Around 120,000 animals from 500 species are kept here in aquariums in a total of 31,000 cubic meters of water. Other attractions include the 30-meter-long, glass Ocean Voyager Tunnel, which leads through the basin with whale sharks and giant manta rays and offers you an unforgettable day out.
Staying in the neighborhood, the headquarters of the American news channel Cable News Network (CNN) is another must-see. Since its inception in 1980, CNN has been the first television station to provide 24-hour coverage. Today, their primary political programs reach more than 93 million US households. Various exhibitions document the station's history of the past 25 years with interesting background information. Visitors can participate in guided tours through the studios and control room of the center as well.
The World of Coca Cola
Following the visit to the Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium and CNN Center, you might be thirsty. “There is a place where you can get your fix for the drink and treat your taste buds to a trip around the world: The World of Coca Cola!” suggests Kristina. First mixed in 1886 and sold at a little booth in Atlanta, the famous drink is sold in more than 200 countries today. The interactive exhibition of the World of Coca Cola documents the triumph of the black sugar beverage and tells the incomparable success story of the past, present, and future of one of the most famous brands in the world. You can taste more than 100 international and domestic beverages and products made and sold worldwide by the Coca Cola Company.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
On your way through the area stop by at the crypt of Nobel Laureate and preacher of team spirit, Martin Luther King. This place of pilgrimage stands next to an eternal flame in an elongated water basin on the grounds of the Center for Nonviolent Social Change. There is also, nearby, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, once run by his father and grandfather. The birthplace of the civil rights activist is in the street to the east.
Atlanta’s BeltLine is one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban sustainable redevelopment programs in the United States. Transforming the city, it aims to build a more socially and economically resilient Atlanta through job creation, inclusive transportation systems, affordable housing, public art, environmental clean-up, historic preservation and public spaces for all. It will ultimately connect 45 in-town neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails (ca. 35 km), modern streetcars, and parks – all based on the existing historic rail corridor that encircles the City of Atlanta. Thus, it should become a living breathing part of the local community and a destination to itself. As of 2019, five trail segments are open to the public as well as seven spectacular new or renovated parks. Energizing and enlivening the community, the rest will follow in phases until the project finishes in 2030. Frank Popola, Sales Engineer KRP/EV Sales, at ANDRITZ Inc. is already a fan of BeltLine:
Ponce City Market
Following the advice by Breanna Stewart, Human Resources, Talent Acquisition Specialist, we leave Beltline to explore Ponce City Market. Its classic structure has been reinvented as a vibrant community hub housing the Central Food Hall, various shops, apartments, and offices. The 2,100,000-square-foot (ca. 195,000 m2) building, one of the largest by volume in the Southeast United States, focuses on building community connections incorporating a pedestrian network, public green spaces, and also access to the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. Kristina recommends a visit to Tap on Ponce, a brewery, which offers over 100 beers to choose from (Love a good IPA!), Bellina for fresh Italian food and the upscale food court at Ponce Market.
“Some good places in Atlanta are Ponce City Market, Midtown and Buckhead areas near Lenox Mall as well as the BeltLine. All are great to eat, find a great brewery, and meet wonderfully diverse people!”
Breanna Stewart, Human Resources, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Located just 22 miles (ca. 35 km) north of Atlanta, lies the ANDRITZ Inc. Head office in Alpharetta. The city’s name is either a variation of a fictional Indian girl Alfarata mentioned in the 19th-century song The Blue Juniata or the first letter of the Greek alphabet. “It is a family-friendly neighborhood bustling with corporate offices, schools, cultural events, parks, and over 200 dining options”, explains Kristina. Some of them or at least Kristina’s favorites can be found at Avalon, a sustainably designed, 86-acre (ca. 350.000 m²) community featuring more than 500,000 square feet (ca. 46.000 m²) of retail.
“Avalon has a resort-like feel throughout a walkable, seamlessly connected community of shopping, dining, entertainment, living and work spaces. Grab an Old Fashion at the Avalon Hotel Bar before dining at one of the many restaurants. My personal favorite is Rumi’s Kitchen a refined yet family comfortable Persian restaurant with fresh unforgettably unique aromas and flavors sure to please the most discerning diner!” she states.
“The craft beer scene is booming in Georgia, particularly in Atlanta. Local breweries like Variant Brewing in Roswell, and Jekyll Brewing just down the street from the Alpharetta office make some of the best beers in GA. Foodies, like myself, can try great local restaurants like Osteria Mattone, Table and Main, Foundation Social Eatery, or Coalition Food and Beverage for a wide range of tasty cuisine.”
Kevin Copeland, Senior Process Engineer, DD Washer Specialist KFT
Moving towards the suburbs of Atlanta, we make a stop at Canon Street. “In my short time in Alpharetta, my favorite things to do have been to go down to Canton St. in downtown Roswell to walk around to the various shops, bars and restaurants which all have their own appeal,” explains Melissa Reddinger, Product Group Manager, Chemical Systems PKP. Additionally, Alive in Roswell, the city’s monthly street party, turns it into the wildest place in Atlanta on the third Thursday of the month. Besides the party, the restaurants in Canon Street are fantastic. Little Alley, for example, is one of the most elite steak houses in all of Atlanta. More affordable options are Salt, Roux, and Table & Main.
The Greenway Trail
Leaving behind the bustling communities of Atlanta and Alpharetta, we make our trip to the Greenway Trail. An hour drive from the city, it currently offers 7.25 miles (ca. 11 km) of concrete multi-use path that is designated for non-motorized use. The linear park system consists of wildlife corridors, open spaces and a family-friendly multi-use path for the public’s enjoyment. Some points of interest there are Dudley Park, a 32-acre park (ca. 130.000 m2), featuring majestic hardwoods, open fields, and several picnic areas and Sandy Creek Park, a 782-acre park (ca. 316 hectare) surrounding 260-acre Lake Chapman (ca.105 hectare) offering a variety of activities throughout the year. “I love checking out the various hiking spots whether it be as simple as the local Greenways or the river walk on the Chattahoochee or as unique as Kennesaw Mountain and Amicalola Falls” states Melissa Reddinger, Product Group Manager, Chemical Systems PKP.
If you are not into hiking, but still want to explore the surrounding area, Michael Rutter, Project Manager, KR Projects, is your man: “There are a number of wineries about an hour north it’s very beautiful, especially in the fall. A nice lunch, a couple of good glasses of wine, makes for a nice day trip”.
It is also a nice ending to our trip to Atlanta and Alpharetta. If you feel now the urge to explore the community spirit first hand yourself, you have a couple of personal guides, who will individually or even better, as the A-Team show you around their city, Atlanta!