Malcolm’s Way: A hidden gem in Atkins Park

By Han Vance

Continuing to ride the writers’ conference circuit in pursuit of evasive literary riches, the first third of 2013 will see me visiting the two American cities with the most density: San Francisco and New York City. All fall I was home in Atlanta, except for a long conference weekend immersed in sprawling, smoggy Los Angeles.

L.A. can be fun if you know what to do, and I truly love my big city Southern hometown, but I must agree with the city planners’ and urban critics’ insistence that density creates urban experience. Behemoth Los Angeles and boundaryless greater metro Atlanta may never have the compact street life of New York City or San Francisco, but what both cities do have are abundant hidden gems spread across their wide frontiers.

One such spot in Atlanta is Malcolm’s Way in Atkins Park, which separates commercial Virginia Highland from my neighborhood, Druid Hills, and cutting from one to the other I stumbled upon this unknown beauty.

Dedicated as a gift to the neighborhood by Malcolm Smith in 1994, Malcolm’s Way is a public space segmented walkway roughly equidistant from and parallel to Briarcliff Road and Highland Avenue, perpendicular to Ponce De Leon Avenue.

The first segment is marked with an in-ground placard and runs from St. Louis Place to St. Charles Place. The second segment picks up across the street, where it is only designated as not for motor traffic by a metal bollard, and runs to St. Augustine Place where it ends in a public stair stoop perfect for writing or reading in the sun. The third segment starts with the steps across St. Augustine and consists of a short stretch of pavement to Ponce De Leon Avenue, exiting into the law office parking lot at Lion’s Gate Manor across Ponce from the Salvation Army residential building.

It amazes me the joy I find taking my time traversing our city by train and foot. Here’s to hoping you find more time out of your automobiles in 2013, Atlanta.

Han Vance is an award-winning culture writer and urban enthusiast who first moved to greater metro Atlanta on America’s 200th birthday in 1976. hanvance.com

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