GSU brings life to Downtown

GSUs Aderhold Learning Center anchors life on Broad Street

GSU's Aderhold Learning Center anchors life on Broad Street

I love when college starts in the late summer.  When I was in undergrad, it meant college football games – now I have to settle for catching my team on TV.  However, I started my penultimate semester at GSU for my MBA on Monday and can’t help but think about how much GSU has changed downtown.

Downtown isn’t awful when school is out, but it feels a little empty.  There is all this infrastructure and all these buildings, but it doesn’t really feel like anyone is home.  Downtown feels so different when school is in – there are just thousands more young people walking around.  Broad Street during lunch time is fantastic.  Downtown is alive, finally.

The GSU effect is relatively new – until the HOPE Scholarship, GSU was traditionally a commuter school, a part time school for non-traditional students who worked full or part time.  My mom finished her degree there in the 70’s while she worked as a secretary at a Five Points law firm.  A lot of the buildings on the central campus area were built in the 60’s and 70’s, and it shows.  They are concrete bunkers – closed off from the street, with virtually no windows.

GSUs 1970s era buildings: designed for troglodytes

GSU's 1970's era buildings: designed for troglodytes

The HOPE Scholarship made GSU attractive for a more traditional college population.  UGA got more competitive, and suburban kids who used to be able to get in there started having to look elsewhere.  GSU started building dormitories and new classrooms.

The result is that in the last 15 years GSU has slowly been turning Downtown into a lively place.  Broad Street restaurants stay open a little bit later now, getting a bit of a dinner crowd for folks like me who go to evening classes at the Aderhold building.  Woodruff Park has constant daytime traffic of students walking from the main cluster of buildings at Decatur St. and Peachtree Center over to Aderhold.

There are lots of opportunities for GSU to keep growing, and keep changing Downtown.  They opened a new freshman dorm this fall, and they’ll have a football team starting play in 2010 at the Georgia Dome.  I think GSU continued growth is in fact the best chance Atlanta has for reviving Downtown.

3 Comments so far

  1. james hervey (jeherv) on August 24th, 2009 @ 8:44 am

    great post, ben. you know that a revived downtown is one of my greatest wishes for this city. let’s you and i go hang out down there one of these days….

  2. Rashid Z. Muhammad (unregistered) on August 31st, 2009 @ 9:00 am

    Hit me up when you do.

  3. james hervey (jeherv) on August 31st, 2009 @ 9:17 am

    will do rashid. ben and i are actually working on an idea here, and would love to have you involved. i am going to be posting about it this week.

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