Late Night Edgewood
So Edgewood is the new Ponce. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s become one of my favorite streets in the city – delicious food, only the occasional whiff of fecal matter, a bar where they know my name, barber shops where they blast funk out the front door at 8am. You’ve got modern and retro with Circa and Rolling Bones. There’s high-minded good food and low-minded good food – Dynamic Dish and King Slice. New and old, with Sound Table and the Jamaican place, and, well, the neighborhood itself, a cornerstone of Atlanta history. It’s also one of the more racially integrated places in the city, in that black people and white people are there in roughly equal numbers (I’ve said it before: that’s a whole new post. Maybe more like a series of discussions. Decades-long series of discussions). But basically, it’s a good place to be at most hours, it’s bike and pedestrian friendly, and it’s about a 2 minute ride from home.
Overall I was pretty happy to see some of the coverage for the city council’s proposal to designate Edgewood and Auburn Avenues a special “Entertainment District,” which would mean later closing hours for the bars there. Businesses would pay an extra fee to cover extra security and clean-up. Since it worked so well in Underground, why not, right?
Underground issues aside, we all know the story – old-money Buckhead Betties on their morning strolls didn’t like walking across the remains of late-night thugs shooting each other, so they voted to drop back the hours of bars throughout the whole city, because there aren’t any stabbings before 2am. Oh, and then, of course, they razed the Buckhead Village, which, though I couldn’t give you directions there (um, go north on Peachtree a ways?), still affects all of us in the message it sends.
I’m not often a shut-the-place-down kinda girl, even with the 2:30 closing time. I understand that my New Orleans days of stumbling out of a place and blinking in the sudden sunlight might be over. But I still think that the early closing hours are one of the few small bullets with which Atlanta peppers its feet when it comes to attracting new residents and visitors. Some of the fun moved to Decatur (also, says Julian Bond, to Cobb and Gwinnett. Cobb and Gwinnett??). It doesn’t matter the details of the law – what matters is the signal it sends: this is no place to party. We want the young, highflying, innovative and creative types, the cheap, smart labor that’s going to buy up our glut of condos and move into the city without fear of crappy schools or high taxes… but we’re not sending them the right signals.
Thus I’m torn. Boosting the businesses on Edgewood and Auburn, putting more of a spotlight on this amazing historic district, continuing to attract people to the city, giving us another thing to bitch about in cabbagetown apart from the green-pea graffiti wall – I love it! But limiting the closing hours to bars on two streets in the city is silly. It’s the opposite of how things should go – communities who want things shut down early should be able to opt for a “residential” or “early entertainment” district, rather than the other way around. If this passes, we’ll have a 6-month trial period that will determine the late-night fate of the city of Atlanta, so one can only hope.
On the other hand, with a trial period, we might find out, to quote Creative Loafing’s Andisheh Nouraee and Thomas Wheatley, that maybe we just can’t have nice things, Atlanta.