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ATLANTA -- There was a time when crime was so ubiquitous in the Old Fourth Ward, it didn't even make the news.

Ironically, the fact that it does today is not a sign of things getting worse here. Rather, they are getting better.

"If you look back five years, 10 years, it's a very very different community," said Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall. "Sometimes the most stubborn parts of your community just take more time. It doesn't happen overnight."

But what has happened is stunning:

* The BeltLine
* The skate park
* The kiddy park
* The water park
* The lake
* The amphitheater
* The rail line
* The apartments

And don't forget the real game changers like the Ponce City Market, with hundreds of millions of dollars in redevelopment, plus hip new businesses that bring an eclectic flair to places like Studioplex, which had long been an abandoned relic of blight that today literally sparkles with progress.

But one of the biggest reasons people relocate to the O4W is for the old houses.

"The original house had no indoor plumbing," said resident Forrest Coley as he walked through his renovated home. "And both sides of the house shared a spigot in the backyard."

Many of the homes in the O4W are a century old, but nowhere near retirement.

It's the reason "This Old House" selected the community as one of the best old house neighborhoods in the south.

"It's a melting pot," said Coley. "It really is. Everyone seems to get along; we work well together. We take a lot of pride in our neighborhood."

Coley is the president of the local Neighborhood Planning Unit. He has no doubt that the community's firm foundation in Atlanta history will also ensure its place in Atlanta's future.

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