Kirkwood, GA: What It's Like to Live Here

This "streetcar suburb" pays homage to its history in its architecture and events.
By: Gina Hannah

One of many Atlanta neighborhoods that lie inside the perimeter, Kirkwood is steeped in history that shows both in its architecture and events.

Kirkwood is a national historic designated neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta in DeKalb County. The streets here are lined with Victorian and Craftsman-style homes as well as small cottages. The neighborhood has also enjoyed a surge in construction of new homes that have been built in a manner that is compatible with the Kirkwood's historic roots.

The neighborhood's name was likely derived from a blending of the Kirkpatrick and Dunwoody family names, as the two families were prominent land owners in the community. The land on which Kirkwood sits is historically significant, as it was in this area that the Battle of Atlanta was fought during the Civil War.

Later, the area became a "streetcar suburb" with its own city government, and was annexed into Atlanta during a lengthy process that occurred from 1922 to 1924. Residents here call the neighborhood "the small town in the big city."

In 2003, improvements began to enhance the neighborhood's business district, including a $1.5 million streetscape, including bicycle lanes, bike racks, crosswalks, historic lighting and many visual improvements.

In addition to doing work to enhance downtown, resident in Kirkwood, as well as other in-town neighborhoods, work with police in patrolling the area to prevent crime.

Each year, the Kirkwood Neighbors' Organization hosts the Kirkwood Spring Fling, with music, an artists' market, tour of homes and children's area at Bessie Brahnam Park. The Kirkwood Business Owners Association hosts an annual wine stroll every summer.

To celebrate Kirkwood's roll in the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War, the neighborhood each July hosts B*ATL, along with the East Atlanta and East Lake neighborhoods. The event includes a 5K race, a gala dinner, walking tours, Civil War Village, storytelling, historic drama and music, and a reenactment of the frontlines.

Children living in Kirkwood are zoned for Atlanta City Schools.

Kirkwood is home to several parks:

  • Gilliam Park, which has a bike trail and community garden
  • DeKalb Memorial Park, offering tennis courts, a basketball court and athletic fields
  • Coan Park, which features a handicapped-accessible playground, outdoor gym with Crossfit-style resistance equipment, athletic fields, tennis courts and a gazebo
  • Bessie Branham Park, with tennis and basketball courts, a ball field, playground and recreation center
  • The Kirkwood Urban Forest and Community Garden, created when residents banded together to transform seven acres of empty land into a park with trails and a community garden
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