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History behind Midland artwork erected along Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway
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Vision 2030 pays homage to the old Midland Rail track by installing giant letters along the Midtown Greenway in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

Striking metal letters that read “Midland” now stand along the old Gainesville Midland track at the Midtown Greenway.

Paying homage to a piece of the city’s treasured history, the Vision 2030 public art committee, which is sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, finished installing the 7-foot-tall letters last week.

Julie Butler Colombini, member of the committee and marketing manager with Gainesville Parks & Recreation, said the artwork is intended to keep the railway’s legacy alive and offer an interactive experience.

“It’s going to be an attraction to the area,” she said. “The midtown area itself is going to be growing and changing, and the art is only going to highlight that. I can imagine all of the Instagram moments and senior prom photos.”

Colombini said the project was funded through a gift arranged by the North Georgia Community Foundation and the 2019 Vision 2030 Public Art Block pARTy. 

Colombini said the gift’s anonymous donor wished to honor the iconic Midland Rail System, which supported industrial growth in Gainesville.

The railway connected Gainesville to Athens and started carrying passengers in 1906. It served the textile industry and shipped building materials, machinery, coal, fertilizer and other commodities, according to the Northeast Georgia History Center.

Although the Midland letters provide a landmark, Colombini said she wanted to remind people that it’s art for people to enjoy. She predicts the attraction will catalyze more public art in the midtown area and bring more people to the greenway.

“To me public art is all about community, and this landmark is just going to be the start of more things to come,” she said. 

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