City officials, the PATH Foundation and community leaders dedicated a pedestrian bridge to the late Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., who helped thrust Atlanta into economic prosperity and transformed the city into a major sports hub.
The PATH foundation saw the bridge as a way to connect West Atlanta to the rest of the path and honor the city’s 52nd mayor, executive director Ed McBrayer said at a dedication ceremony Monday.
The $1.5 million project has been in the works since 2016, McBrayer said. Pedestrians walking along the bridge will read about Allen’s pivotal role in Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement.
Grandson Ivan Allen IV, speaking on behalf of the Allen family, said the bridge represents the work his grandfather did to make Atlanta “the new South.”
“We’re excited because generations who have no recollection of him and other leaders who made the city such a great town will now have a chance to go through this walking museum and experience what many of us have lived through ourselves.”
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Signature Design was commissioned to design the bridge, which overlooks the CNN Center, State Farm Arena, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The bridge consists of a multicolored display and a timeline of Allen’s mayoral run and accomplishments.
“It’s really an entire color story around Atlanta and its transition from a small city of the South to an international city,” designer Therese Huffman said of the bridge.
Jim Kennedy, chairman of Cox Enterprises, called the project the “most rewarding thing (I’ve) ever done in this city.” The bridge was partially funded by the Cox Foundation, which belongs to the same family that owns Cox Enterprises, the parent company of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Kennedy recalled the first time he met Allen: “My aunt, Anne Cox Chambers, said to me: ‘This man was our mayor and he took the actions that allow our city to be great.’ He went against what a lot of people didn’t want him to do.”
The years Allen was in the mayor’s office, from 1962 to 1970, served as a turning point for Atlanta during the civil rights movement, according to the AJC archives. During that time, Atlanta’s population grew by 31.5% and major buildings were erected downtown.
Allen was also instrumental in bringing Atlanta’s three major sports teams — the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks — to the city. He also had a hand in desegregating City Hall, according to AJC archives.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the bridge highlights the city’s beauty and connectedness.
“It’s important that we remember and acknowledge all of the contributions mayors have given,” Bottoms said.
A fifth-generation Atlantan, Bottoms’ said her great-grandmother’s home once stood a few blocks from the bridge. “It’s important that we call these names because the next generation won’t know otherwise.”