In the 1970s, many of Kirkwood's Victorian and Craftsman mansions and American Foursquare homes fell into disrepair as the community battled an upswing in crime. In the 1990s, new buyers, seeing potential in the neighborhood, began to renovate homes. Kirkwood experienced the pains of gentrification as residents became more diverse in race, economic status and sexuality. As the community continues to work through these challenges, it retains a funky and diverse atmosphere.
Now Kirkwood continues to transform as its wide variety of architecture, from 100-year-old-plus Victorian mansions to small bungalows and post-World War II ranches, attracts hipsters and young families who mix with longtime residents. Adventurous newcomers can live in such atypical homes as a renovated library, while modern homes update the look of the historic streets.
Kirkwood's boundaries are DeKalb Avenue to the north, Rogers and Montgomery streets to the west, Memorial Drive to the south, Mellrich and Winter avenues to the northeast and Oakview Road to the east. Kirkwood, in the 30317 ZIP code, is less than one-half mile from Interstate 20, 1.5 miles from downtown Decatur and 10 miles from Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The business district on Hosea L. Williams Drive offers a small collection of wine and coffee shops, restaurants and businesses catering to people with pets, kids and an interest in art. Residents often meet up for jogging groups or on bike paths, and at pubs and cafes, says Geoff Mueller, 2015 president of the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization.
Other historic properties in Kirkwood include the dormant Pratt-Pullman Yard, a filming location for "The Hunger Games." Atlanta ContactPoint has proposed transforming the site, which includes more than 100,000 square feet of empty buildings, into a community sports, fitness, health and arts center.