Atlanta Mystery

One of my favorite local blogs, Pecanne Log, wrote a post yesterday about a great Atlanta mystery: Why are Downtown and Midtown so damn dead after dark and on weekends? I think everyone who lives in Atlanta is confounded by its inexplicable car culture, and the lack of a thriving and bustling city core.

For my part, I think the problem is three-fold: One part fear of crime, the poor, and crappy schools, one part irresponsible development that throws up more junk while neglecting the existing infrastructure, and one part geography: Most great American cities have grown up around a limiting geographical feature, usually a body of water, that hems it in and forces it upward rather than sprawling out. Pheonix, Dallas, and Atlanta are all limited by the room they have to spread their wings; NYC, Chicago, DC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco. . . all are hemmed in and yet empowered by their geographical limitation.

What is the problem? What is the answer? I have no clue. Does anyone really think that Atlanta will be a great city in the vein of a New York or Seattle? I have my doubts.

Anything else you see as a great Atlanta Mystery?

4 Comments so far

  1. james hervey (jeherv) on December 11th, 2008 @ 11:41 am

    this post from rashid addresses the issues with downtown and particularly five points as good as anything.

  2. annie on December 11th, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

    Thanks, James. (And Rashid.)

  3. jatjen on December 30th, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

    Atlanta will NEVER be like New York. People need to grasp this and move on to inching Atlanta towards something that would be it’s own, unique identity.
    So after a 4-year stint in Manhattan, I am heading back to my birthplace and true home in Atlanta. I went to look at condos in midtown and as I was amazed at the low prices of the new high-rises, they all said the same thing. "Ohhhhh! It’s called Midtown Mile! And it’s going to be like New York here now!" OK seriously. It will only be kindasorta like New York for the couple thousand people who actually live in those midtown highrises who won’t have to walk but 50 feet outside their building for groceries and high fashion. Everyone else in the city STILL has to drive. This is something that no midtown miles or atlantic stations is going to change for the masses of atlanta. All those developments are going to do is turn Atlanta into one large Disney World that is made of all glass buildings. Oh wait, are we already there?

  4. rashid on January 1st, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

    I did what I could to debunk this over at my place. There are much bigger issues behind this – in my opinion erroneous – perception of downtown that I’d like to tackle but I’m kind of light on time right now.

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