The I-285 highway’s official 50th birthday will be marked with a traveling history exhibit that debuts Oct. 13-19 at Dunwoody’s Perimeter Mall.

Known as the Perimeter, the 64-mile-long beltway around Atlanta opened in sections in the 1960s. The final piece opened on Oct. 15, 1969. The highway underwent major expansions in the following decades. The Georgia Department of Transportation is currently rebuilding the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange in Perimeter Center and has controversial – and now delayed – plans to add toll lanes in another massive expansion.

Gov. Lester Maddox celebrates the opening of the final section of I-285 in 1969 in an archive photo provided by the Atlanta History Center and the Georgia Department of Transportation. 

Organized by GDOT, the exhibit includes photos of I-285 in its debut and later expansions and a LEGO toy building block reproduction of the highway made by Buckhead’s LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta. Other partners on the exhibit include the Atlanta History Center, the Perimeter Center Community Improvement Districts and the infrastructure design contracting firm HNTB.

A young visitor plays with the LEGO I-285 in the exhibit on Oct. 14. (John Ruch)

The exhibit consists of several informational panels. Two of the panels tout the plan to add toll lanes, as well as similar ones that recently opened on I-75 and I-575, but do not address the local controversy over their land acquisition, traffic and aesthetic impacts. The LEGO highway is under construction of its own at the hands of many passing children.

Photos of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange over the decades is part of the exhibit. (John Ruch)

The free exhibit will be on display on the mall’s lower level, near the Dillard’s department store, during the regular business hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sunday noon-7 p.m. The mall is located at 4400 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody.

The LEGO version of I-285 was under construction at the hands of visiting children. (John Ruch)

The exhibit will travel to other locations to be announced, according to GDOT.

Update: This story has been updated with photos from the exhibit.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.