East Atlanta is vibrant with culture.
For visitors heading south on Moreland Avenue, a sign next to a Citgo offers a welcome to the neighborhood. Running parallel to Moreland, the strip along Flat Shoals Avenue has remained lively throughout the years, with a steady influx of creative restaurants and bars.
This story originally appeared in the September/October 2016 edition of Living Intown Magazine.
If you walk along Flat Shoals, you’ll be welcomed by colorful storefronts, large murals painted by local artists and eye-catching window displays. Music venues like 529 and the Earl draw young music fans, Argosy and the Graveyard attract the end of the millennial spectrum, and delicious food spots like the East Atlanta Farmers Market, Joe’s Coffee and We Suki Suki entice passersby of all ages.
Meanwhile, outside the melting pot of East Atlanta Village, the neighborhood’s residential areas feel insulated from Metro Atlanta’s big-city bustle, despite being minutes away from the interstate and downtown.
Flat Shoals Avenue began as part of the Sandtown-Flat Shoals Trails, a trade route between the Chattahoochee River and the Georgia coast. The Creek tribal people of the area were forcibly removed in the 1820s and the acreage was sold through the Georgia Land lotteries
In 1864, ahead of the Battle of Atlanta, Gen. James B. McPherson’s Union forces dug a front line along Flat Shoals Road. Historical signage in East Atlanta Village marks such sites as the capture of the 16th Iowa regiment on July 22, 1864, and the spots where McPherson and Confederate Gen. William H.T. Walker were killed.
After the war, Flat Shoals and Glenwood avenues became important routes for farmers and related commerce. William Zuber, a lumber and railroad businessman, built a white-columned mansion for his wife on Flat Shoals that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
East Atlanta was officially annexed as part of the City of Atlanta in 1908. Two years later, the East Atlanta Banking Company moved into the building at the intersection of Flat Shoals and Glenwood, now site of the popular Flatiron bar.
In the 1960s, the neighborhood saw many black families finally achieve homeownership under the Fair Housing Act, which also led to white flight due to the fear of integration. The residential areas went through a period of neglect in the 1980s, but have enjoyed a renaissance in the last 20 years as more families move into this still-affordable area.
East Atlanta’s boundaries could be described as a square with a fishtail shape stretching to the southeast. Moreland Avenue forms the western border, with I-20 to the north and Clifton Road to the east. It extends southeast approximately along Bouldercrest and Flat Shoals until Fayetteville Road. Bordering neighborhoods include Ormewood Park and Grant Park to the west, and Kirkwood to the north.
East Atlanta boasts a population of 2,484, with a median household income of $44,536 and a median age of 38. Homes can be found in a range from $150,000 for 1950s bungalows and post-war homes to $550,000 for newer construction and renovated homes. You will find a mix of Victorians and Craftsman bungalows along Glenwood Avenue, and a new wave of farmhouse-style homes are being built in the area.
The East Atlanta Community Association has high participation as many residents in the area have remained in their homes for decades, despite the rising property prices. The association promotes a higher quality of life for its residents by supporting lower crime initiatives, meeting with the Atlanta Public School System and encouraging well-planned residential areas.
The revitalization of Brownwood Park testifies to the community’s spirit of cooperation, as the neighborhood park now hosts bocce leagues, basketball games, tennis matches and the Atlanta Beer Fest.
Starlight Drive-in Theatre
Built in 1949, the Starlight Drive-in Theatre is the last of its kind in Atlanta. Pack up your car with your favorite snacks and blanket, and buy a ticket for one of the double features (at $9 for two movies, it’s a great deal). The movies’ audio is broadcast through your FM radio, so you watch from the comfort of your car or sit in folding chairs, tailgate-style, in front of the screen. The Starlight also hosts flea markets and other events on the weekends.
2000 Moreland Ave. starlightdrivein.com
East Atlanta Strut
The East Atlanta Strut, now on its 18th year, features a 5K race followed by a classic car parade, live local music, a kids village, and even contests of strength and beard growth for adults. Profits from the festival go back into the community.
East Atlanta Strut. Sept. 24. East Atlanta Village, Flat Shoals and Glenwood. avenues.eastatlantastrut.com
Sacred Sweat Yoga
The sister space to Old Fourth Ward’s Sacred Thread Yoga, Sacred Sweat emphasizes hot yoga practice, heating up the room to 95 degrees for an easier flow between poses. Classes range from beginner level to more challenging Vinyasa poses. If you’re looking to deepen your practice, the studio offers workshops, prenatal classes, retreats and training.
465 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-844-7243. Sacredthreadyoga.com
This music venue combines a punk rock spirit with good bar grub. Grab one of their classic burgers and head to the performing space out back to catch emerging local bands and indie duos every night. Sunday mornings offer “Earl Dunch,” a hearty brunch with live acoustic music.
Insider tip: Every month, Sacred Thread Yoga hosts Yoga on Tap at a local brewbar or brewery, where students can stretch out in class for an hour and enjoy a local brew afterward.
SHOPPING AND DINING
Hodgepodge Coffeehouse and Gallery
Hodgepodge is a go-to hub for creative people in Atlanta. Part gallery, part coffee shop, it hosts monthly art openings, sells local makers’ products and functions as a base for the local zine library. The coffee is top notch and the ample seating will inspire you to knock out your entire to-do list.
720 Moreland Ave. 404-622-8525. hodgepodgecoffee.com
Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop
The exterior of this East Atlanta Village staple is decorated with an inviting, oversized cup. The interior proves equally warm and welcoming, with several mismatched but comfy couches, as well as plenty of art on the walls, including pieces by local favorite R. Land. Grab an Emerald City bagel and one of the dark roast offerings, then get some work done while enjoying the free Wi-Fi and lively playlist.
510 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-521-1122. facebook.com/Joes-East-Atlanta-Coffee-Shop
Chef Kevin Gillespie hit the bullseye with this restaurant, winning plaudits as one of America’s best new restaurants when it opened in 2013. A rotating lineup of chefs serve different small dishes every night, ensuring your experience will always be unique. If you’re feeling adventurous, sample all of the American Southern-style menu items with one of their delectable cocktails.
924 Garrett St. 404-380-1886. gunshowatl.com
One of the city’s best patios is Midway’s dog-friendly outdoor area, glittering with strung lights. Enjoy an order of their vegetarian corndogs and wash it down with a libation from their extensive beer list, which includes selections by local favorites Monday Night Brewing and SweetWater. The bar features multiple televisions for sports fans, while trivia nights and weekend brunch also have loyal followings.
552 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-584-0335. themidwaypub.com
Insider tip: If you have late-night cravings, look for the light teal door off Flat Shoals Avenue for the Korean restaurant Gaja. Chef Allen Suh cooks up a handful of to-go ramen cups from scratch and sells them — first-come, first serve — at the bar after 11 p.m.