The Gulch Project

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This is where Atlanta’s 3 railways met following the tops of ridges, including the Eastern Continental Divide ridge

Transportation on the Tops of Ridges Instead of Waves

Atlanta, a city without water ports, is located in the foothill ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains, called the Piedmont region. These foothill ridges stretch from New Jersey in the north to central Alabama in the south. Eternally fascinating, Atlanta REALLY IS the natural center of the South, as the Eastern Continental Divide ridge, one side draining into the Gulf of Mexico and the other into the Atlantic Ocean, goes smack through the center of Atlanta, whose ridges are now demarcated by the RR’s built in 1845 and 1848, marked below.
Thus the location of Atlanta is no accident. Designed at the crossroads of Piedmont ridges the City of Atlanta’s wealth and energy flow began by being the trade arena of three railroads sailing fast and efficiently on flat and well-drained land following the tops of ridges:
1837: Western and Atlantic (W&A)– North Railway Path that began Atlanta as “Terminus”
1845: Georgia RR– East Railway Path from Augusta GA  (following the ECD* ridge)
1848: Macon and Western RR– South Path from Macon GA (following the ECD* ridge)
*Locally the Eastern Continental Divide  ridge (ECD) runs down DeKalb Avenue from Decatur to Five Points, then southwest toward the Atlanta airport, with the northwest side draining into the Chattahoochee or Flint Rivers and therefore into the Gulf of Mexico, and the southeast side eventually into the Atlantic Ocean.

ABOVE: A version of the proposed new Gulch development is transposed on an early drawing of Atlanta. BLUE ARROWS: The 1848 Macon and Western RR and 1845 Georgian RR sit on the ECD (Eastern Continental Divide), the ridge dividing water flow drainage into either the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Oceans.

Presently parking lots and still active railroads,  the original configuration of 3 railroads meeting can still be discerned by studying the Google map at right.  The 2018 Gulch project proposal will sit on a multilevel concrete podium like Atlantic Station: the first 40 feet of height will be for the trains and then 3 levels of parking under the buildings.

Green Light the Gulch is a Gulch pro development site by the City of Atlanta. Nice! But would be so much cooler to recognize architecturally the immense feat combining engineering and nature (the ridges) a bit more, read on. Perkins and Will combined with an architect like Bjarke Ingels  would stir up things!

Scientists, Geologists and other curious people: Note on the map how the creek tributaries begin and radiate out from around the railways and Peachtree Street, defining ridges. Universally our successful forebearers were practical engineers, using natural energy flows to their advantage. Indian footpaths, roads and railways consistently followed geologically formed ridges to save human and mechanical energy. Ridges, being natural watershed boundaries are:
(1) level traveling compared to walking up hills and down dales
(2) avoid the inconvenience of streams and swampy areas. Early Indian paths evolved along the tops of Piedmont ridges, including the Eastern Continental Divide ridge, to enable the smoothest walk possible as well as creating advantageous views to anticipate potentially nasty encounters.

Energy efficient for travel, Indian paths and natural ridges determined the locations of the railways, Peachtree Street and other transportation routes. The 1837 (Western and Atlantic) tracks that began Atlanta as “Terminus”,  following a convenient ridge, planted its Zero Mile Post strategically at a point on the Eastern Continental Divide ridge, today called “Underground Atlanta”.

In 1845 (Georgia RR) and 1848 (Macon and Western RR) tracks formed the RR configuration on the map by following the Eastern Continental Divide ridge, first from the east and then from the south. In 1854 a fourth rail line, the Atlanta and LaGrange Railroad, entered Atlanta from the southwest, and the economically energized city became an efficient rail and energy flow arena for the entire South utilizing its transportation system on the ridges.