Inman Park is Atlanta’s first planned residential suburb and also Atlanta’s first electric trolley neighborhood. Created at the cusp of the twentieth century, this ideal Victorian neighborhood — curved streets, generous residential lots, and verdant parks — was built upon the wrecked land of Atlanta’s Civil War battlefield, two miles east of downtown Atlanta. Inman Park was the brainchild of a renaissance thinker named Joel Hurt (1850-1926), who modeled the neighborhood after other trolley neighborhoods he had seen throughout the United States. The neighborhood was an immediate success; Atlanta’s nineteenth-century elite flocked to Inman Park to construct grand homes, which had been designed by the city’s best architects. In its heyday, Inman Park residents could travel via electric trolley to downtown Atlanta for work, and then return home to the pastoral lands of Inman Park for relaxation – after paying the hefty trolley toll of five cents each way. Turn-of-the-nineteenth century business moguls such as Asa Griggs Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company, called Inman Park home during this successful period of Inman Park’s growth.
Today, Inman Park is the neighborhood of Joel Hurt’s dreams: beautiful homes filled with professionals who appreciate the charm of urban living in a bucolic setting. Almost all of the houses – both the mansions and the smaller dwellings – have been restored to their former glory, and the parks scattered throughout the neighborhood are well-maintained green spaces, which pay homage to Hurt’s original designs. A strong neighborhood association – IPNA – continues to fight for the betterment of the neighborhood, mostly financed by a three-day annual festival that brings thousands to Inman Park for food, music, and a tour of the historic homes. Throughout the neighborhood, visitors can see a symbol, created by a neighborhood resident back in the earliest days of Inman Park’s restoration. This symbol – a yellow and black butterfly – captures Inman Park’s theme of rebirth, with two faces outlined in the butterfly’s body looking left and right to signify both the past and the future of Inman Park. The original Inman Park neighborhoods, along with a few adjacent Victorian developments, are now part of the Inman Park Historic District, and the historic appearance of the district is regulated by the City of Atlanta.
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