On the west side of Atlanta is another neighborhood often overlooked by those familiar only with eastside options. It's Underwood Hills, which has always been popular with people who want shady streets; easy access to I-75 as well as walkable areas; relative affordability; excellent schools; and classic housing stock with good curb appeal. These days, there's even more to recommend the neighborhood; the Westside Design District is growing up nearby, and the District at Howell Mill, with Wal-Mart the center of that galaxy, is next door in Berkeley Lake.
This neighborhood began in 1902 as "Northside Park." Like other neighborhoods on this point in the compass, it got its growth start because of the railroad, as railroad workers settled here beginning in the 1920s. Zoning threats in the 1970s and 1980s rallied residents to oppose high-density projects and preserve the character of an intown neighborhood of single-family homes. Housing stock today features many Craftsman bungalows, often renovated to exacting contemporary standards.
The Underwood Hills Neighborhood Association has been active since 1902. Today it oversees a crime watch to promote public safety, keeps residents informed in an email newsletter and organizes the annual Spring Social in Underwood Hills Park. The park is the pride of the neighborhood. It offers a wooden playground, ball field, tennis and basketball courts, walking paths, benches and a picnic area with grills. And the playground provides equipment for both toddlers and older kids – bouncy dinosaurs and a steering wheel for the little ones and a climbing wall and fireman's pole for their seniors.
Atlanta public schools that serve the area are E. Rivers Elementary, Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta High School. All three offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, considered one of the leading educational programs in the world. The IB ends with the Diploma Program, an elective curriculum for grades 11 and 12 that may qualify graduates to enter college with as many as 30 credits and sophomore standing. Students can earn a diploma from the International Baccalaureate Organization at the same time that they earn a Georgia high school diploma.
While many schools in the country limit the IB diploma only to select students, North Atlanta High School provides it as an option to all juniors and seniors.
Rivers, one of the oldest schools in the city, dating from 1917, was torn down and rebuilt twice the size. It reopened in 2015 with all the latest amenities that provide an optimal learning environment. The school emphasizes inquiry-based learning, which encourages children to solve problems by using information from many sources.
Sutton has two campuses – the sixth grade campus at Powers Ferry/Jett Road and seventh and eighth grades on Northside Drive in the former location of North Atlanta High School.
In 2013, North Atlanta High School moved further north into an 11-story building that once housed IBM and was refurbished at a cost of $147 million. It's the most expensive school in the state. With its own smoothie station in the cafeteria, this showplace bears no resemblance to any high school in human memory! It overlooks a lake, and classrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows afford skyline views more commonly seen from a penthouse than from third-period algebra.