Buford Highway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Buford Highway Corridor (community)
Location in DeKalb County and the state of Georgia
Location in DeKalb County and the state of Georgia
Chamblee is located in Metro Atlanta
Location in Metro Atlanta
Coordinates: 33°53′15″N 84°18′19″W / 33.88750°N 84.30528°W / 33.88750; -84.30528Coordinates: 33°53′15″N 84°18′19″W / 33.88750°N 84.30528°W / 33.88750; -84.30528
CountryUnited States
CountyFulton, DeKalb, and Gwinnett
 • Total3.1 sq mi (8.1 km2)
 • Land3.1 sq mi (8.1 km2)
 • Water0 sq mi (0 km2)
1,020 ft (311 m)
 • Total15,790
 • Density5,100/sq mi (1,900/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
30341, 30366
Area code770
FIPS code13-15172[2]
GNIS feature ID0331371[3]

Buford Highway (also Buford Highway Corridor), a.k.a. the DeKalb International Corridor,[4][5] and in the 1990-2000's as the DeKalb County International Village district,[6] is a community northeast of the city of Atlanta, celebrated for its ethnic diversity and spanning multiple counties including Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties in the U.S. state of Georgia. The area generally spans along and on either side of a stretch of Georgia State Route 13 (SR 13) in DeKalb County. It begins just north of Midtown Atlanta, continues northeast through the towns of Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, and Norcross. The name of the corridor originates from the name of the highway which connects to the city of Buford. Creative Loafing's Atlanta edition named Buford Highway Atlanta's "best neighborhood for diversity" in their March 2012 Neighborhood Guide.[7] The population exceeds 50,000.[8]


Buford Highway is an ethnically diverse, linear community made up of apartment complexes, suburban neighborhoods and shopping centers. Similar to other sun belt cities, immigrants who relocated to Atlanta in the 20th and 21st centuries went straight to the suburbs, where residential and commercial real estate was affordable and where many second-generation immigrant communities were already established. Along Buford Highway, there are few wholly distinct ethnic areas. The more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses are owned by and patronized by a wide variety of ethnic groups,[9][10] notably Korean, Mexican, Chinese, and Vietnamese, and also Indian, Bangladeshi, Central American, Somali, and Ethiopian. The DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce calls the area the "International Corridor."[11]

The interior of the Buford Highway Farmer's Market

The Buford Highway community is home to one of the highest concentration of foreign-born residents in the country, notably Mexican, Central American, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. The area attracted many Latino workers during the construction boom that preceded the 1996 Olympic Games. Asian business owners were attracted to the stretch of highway by cheap leases and reliable traffic flow.[12]

In 2017, the man who came up with the idea for the BeltLine ring of trails around Atlanta, Ryan Gravel, announced that he would turn his attention to Buford Highway. His new non-profit named "Generator" would partner with another non-profit, We Love BuHi, to find ways to celebrate the diversity of the community and preserve its culture, with the aim of coming with realistic civic proposals around issues such as gentrification, transit and affordability.[13]


Buford Highway originated as a non-descript state roadway connecting Atlanta and points northeast, including the then-railroad towns of Chamblee and Doraville, as well as points farther north. The towns of Doraville, Chamblee and Norcross had long been home to a blue collar, largely white, lower middle-class population. The highway was characterized by strip mall development, and apartment complexes sprouted up in the 1960s and 1970s.[9] In 1976 the first ethnic restaurant opened, the Havana Sandwich Shop. In the 1980s, immigrants settled in the area due to affordable housing, available public transportation, and proximity to construction jobs in growing Gwinnett County.[14] The area attracted many Latino workers during the construction boom that preceded the 1996 Olympic Games. Asian business owners were attracted to the stretch of highway by cheap leases and reliable traffic flow.[12]

During the 1996 Olympics, Chamblee embraced the growing international character of Buford Highway, while more conservative Doraville resisted it. As the Southern Foodways Alliance reported:

"Why would we want to attract more immigrants when we got all we want?" asked Doraville mayor Lamar Lang to the press. "That's just not our way of life here," agreed the city council. "We’re basically Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians."[14]


Mercado del Pueblo Hispanic supermarket at Northeast Plaza
Market in Plaza Fiesta

Buford Highway is, in most places in the corridor, a seven-lane highway with no median and few sidewalks, a situation which is grossly mismatched with the heavy pedestrian traffic along and across the highway.

Most properties along the corridor are in the form of strip malls, retail businesses surrounded by large parking lots, and large apartment complexes. The largest strip malls are the 466,000-square-foot (43,300 m2) Northeast Plaza, 355,000-square-foot (33,000 m2) Plaza Fiesta and the Buford Highway Farmers Market complex.

Need for Pedestrian Improvements[edit]

On July 22, 2010 PBS's Need to Know program portrayed the corridor as an example of a high-pedestrian area in suburban America that fails to meet increased demand for walkability due to changing demographics.[15] The program noted that in the previous ten years, 30 people had died and an additional 250 were injured while trying to cross Buford Highway, a rate three times higher than any other road in Georgia. Despite this, there are no plans to improve pedestrian safety in the unincorporated area of the corridor.

These deaths have led some cities along Buford Highway to consider development plans with significant pedestrian improvements. For example, the City of Brookhaven's Buford Highway Improvement Plan and Economic Development Strategy contemplates adding mid-block crossings, street trees and buffer plantings, pedestrian-scale lighting and other improvements.[16]

In 2017 the City of Brookhaven announced that the highway in their city would be improved by reducing the number of traffic lanes, adding a greenway and island.[17]

Public transportation[edit]

Buford Highway is served by MARTA bus route 39 (Lindbergh Center to Doraville) as well as privately run minibuses.[18] Also, the Doraville MARTA metro rail station is a block away from Buford Highway.

Buford Highway in popular culture[edit]

The city of Chamblee, in which part of the Buford Highway community is located, is sometimes referred to as "Chambodia" due to its high East Asian population and the concentration of East Asian restaurants along Buford Highway in Chamblee. A chapter of Tom Wolfe's novel A Man in Full is titled "Chambodia".[19][20]


  • Walcott, Susan M. (2002). "Overlapping Ethnicities and Negotiated Space: Atlanta's Buford Highway" (PDF). Journal of Cultural Geography. University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 20: 51–75. doi:10.1080/08873630209478281. S2CID 145684285. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 23, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  1. ^ "Chamblee (City) QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on May 22, 2013. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  4. ^ "Discover DeKalb - Discover Chamblee". Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  5. ^ "Discover DeKalb - Discover Doraville". Archived from the original on December 24, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "Retail condos snapped up in International Village - 1998-09-07 - Atlanta Business Chronicle". Archived from the original on September 25, 2000.
  7. ^ "Buford Highway". Creative Loafing. March 29, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  8. ^ ""Buford Highway Corridor", Cultures for Health, Emory University".
  9. ^ a b "What Is Buford Highway?". Buford Highway Project. Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  10. ^ "Buford Highway" (PDF). Creative Loafing Ultimate Neighborhood Guide. Atlanta, Georgia: Creative Loafing Atlanta. 39 (48). March 31 – April 6, 2011.
  11. ^ "Visitor Information". DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Moreno Gonzales, John (March 10, 2009). "Immigrants along Buford Highway face mixed signals". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Associated Press. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
  13. ^ "BeltLine founder turns focus to Buford Highway". August 18, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "City Guide Atlanta/Buford Highway" (PDF). Southern Foodways Alliance. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 16, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  15. ^ Larson, John (Correspondent), Moore, Fae (Producer) (July 22, 2010). Dangerous Crossing. PBS. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  16. ^ See http://www.brookhavenga.gov/home/showdocument?id=1327
  17. ^ "City plans to add linear park, redevelop parts of Buford Highway - Atlanta Business Chronicle". Archived from the original on June 20, 2017.
  18. ^ Response to recent conversation Response to Recent Conversation, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 26, 2013
  19. ^ "washingtonpost.com: Style Live: Travel". www.washingtonpost.com.
  20. ^ "Search". Creative Loafing.