Clear Creek (Atlanta)

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Birdseye view of Midtown Atlanta showing branch of Clear Creek (no longer existing) running from the lower left corner to the upper right corner
Streetcar along North Ave. crossing branch of Clear Creek (no longer existing), near today's intersection of North and Penn in Old 4th Ward

Clear Creek is a stream in Intown Atlanta that feeds into Peachtree Creek, and eventually into the Chattahoochee River. It is the Creek that played to the Union's advantage in their Civil War victory at the Battle of Peachtree Creek. The apparent start is in Orme Park in Virginia Highland near Grady High School, but the source begins before there. The portion of the creek that flows parallel to Glen Arden Way was piped and filled over in the 1930s. From Orme Park, the creek flows behind Ansley Mall, through Ansley Golf Club, through the Armour industrial area, behind Brookwood Hills, finally merging into Peachtree Creek. The creek is known as being polluted and not clear at all.

Southern branch (no longer existing)[edit]

Another branch of Clear Creek used to flow from the eastern edge of Piedmont Park, southwestwards across what is now the Midtown Historic District towards what is now what is approximately the intersection of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Penn Avenue, and from there southwards towards Angier Ave. in today's Old Fourth Ward.[1] An 1892 map shows that bridges and viaducts crossed the creek at North Avenue and other nearby streets.[2]

Recent efforts to improve water quality, habitat, access and opportunities for nature appreciation[edit]

Clear Creek Basin at Historic Fourth Ward Park (2011)[edit]

Historic Fourth Ward Park comprises 17 acres of headwaters greenspace[3] and is built on the site of the old Ponce de Leon amusement park, just south of Ponce City Market and just west of the BeltLine trail. Intended to provide stormwater management for an area undergoing intensive redevelopment, it was one of the first completed urban park elements of the Atlanta BeltLine project.

Construction includes a two-acre detention pond providing relief to the City of Atlanta’s combined sewer system, a 24” tap into the existing 9’ x 9’ Clear Creek trunk sewer, the installation of nearly 1,000 LF 6’ x 3’ box culvert, re-routing and reconstructing city streets, elevated walkways, extensive walls, ramps, various hardscapes, decorative railings, site lighting, wetlands plantings and landscaping.[4] The pond generates a minimum of 425 gallons a minute from the submerged Clear Creek water table available for maintaining the park's lawns and playing fields. Additional water features include a ten-foot waterfall to aerate and recycle the pond water and a stone water cascade that runs alongside one of the park’s walkways.

Stream and wetland rehabilitation at Piedmont Park (2011)[edit]

Recent parkland expansion and multimillion-dollar green infrastructure developments (2011,[5] 2013[6]) managed through the Piedmont Park Conservancy are designed to improve Clear Creek's water quality and enhance biodiversity. Educational signage along the waterway offers information about the importance of healthy watershed systems.

Clear Creek CSO Treatment Facility at 1320 Monroe Drive (1996)[edit]

Comprising approximately 3,086 acres and having a maximum overflow capacity of approximately 5,060 million gallons per day (mgd), the Clear Creek CSO Facility serves the largest combined sewershed of the City’s seven CSO facilities, and includes the Downtown Business District and Midtown Atlanta. Dry weather flow (less than 40 mgd is routed to the Peachtree interceptor, which then takes the flow to the R.M. Clayton WRC for treatment. Wet weather flow is routed to the Clear Creek CSO facility for treatment before being discharged to an open channel that leads to Clear Creek. Existing treatment consists of coarse screening, fine screening, and disinfection by sodium hypochlorite.

Clear Creek Nature Preserve & City of Atlanta Greenway Acquisition Project (1998 - 2007)[edit]

The City of Atlanta Greenway Acquisition Project was a $25 million program to acquire and protect properties adjacent to selected rivers and creeks within the Metro Atlanta area. Once acquired, these greenway properties are to be forever maintained in a natural, undisturbed state. Clear Creek Nature Preserve of Brookwood Hills Community Club comprises 70 acres of privately held riparian bottomland protected by conservation easement through the Greenway Acquisition Project. Conservation of greenway properties protects water quality in rivers and streams and also protects animal habitats, plant habitats, and wetlands. Land adjacent to the waterways is to be protected from erosion, flood damage, and clear-cutting.

New urbanism style planning and redevelopment within the Clear Creek watershed and BeltLine corridor[edit]

Greater Piedmont Heights Master Framework Plan (2012)[edit]


1. Unify the many plans by others in and around Piedmont Heights into a single implementable Master Framework Plan leveraging community assets, respecting the interests of all persons and following the Hannover Principles.*

2. Modify Buford Highway, Monroe Drive and Piedmont Road for more appropriate interface with abutting neighborhoods and to divert through traffic away from residential areas.

3. Transform the open space under I-85 and along the Peachtree Creek waterway into cultural and environmental assets.

4. Alter internal streets and intersections for safety and walkability, to minimize vehicle/pedestrian conflicts and to encourage appropriate new development.

5. Create a plan for additional green space and a pedestrian network connecting the neighborhood to the BeltLine, nearby trails, parks, creeks and open spaces.

6. Integrate existing and proposed public transit systems ensuring minimum disruption and optimum access.

Ponce City Market (2014)[edit]

Located where the BeltLine crosses Ponce de Leon Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward; a mixed-use development of the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. The 2,100,000-square-foot structure is one of the largest by volume in the Southeast United States. The building's lot covers 16 acres.

Armour Yards and Sweetwater Design District (2015)[edit]

The SweetWater Design District (2010) located around Armour Circle, Ottley Drive and Plasters Avenue NE,[7] was established to foster a welcoming atmosphere for visitors and to create a stronger community among the businesses and organizations .

Armour Yards (2015), near Sweetwater Brewery and a future BeltLine connection, is a 6.5 acre, mixed-use, west coast style, loft office campus by Third & Urban, a real estate development and investment firm.[8]