Public Hearing on the Downtown Streetcar

Image courtesy of Georgia Transit ConnectorWhether the downtown streetcar project has you saying “Yay!” or “#$%&!” or just “Huh?” you’ll want to get to the second public hearing  that the Federal Transit Administration, the City of Atlanta and MARTA are holding Monday evening.

If you’re in the “Huh?” crowd, have a look at the Atlanta Streetcar Environmental Assessment (big PDF) before you go. It’s long, but pretty much every speck of information in the streetcar project is there, all in one package. Just <Ctrl+F> to search for a term if you don’t have time to pore over every one of the 345 pages between now and Monday afternoon.

Time and place:

December 13, 2010
5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m.
Auburn Avenue Research Library
4th Floor Auditorium
101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, Ga. 30303

H/T to Creative Loafing.

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A Little Holi-data

Brookings city population change map

An indicator map illustrating population growth among American cities since from 2000 to 2009

Well, it’s almost Christmas and that means new toys. My current favorite actually came out in May, but somehow escaped my attention then. Let’s pull it out of the box and see what it does.

When The Brookings Institution’s “State of Metropolitan America” report was released this summer it drew attention locally because of its revelation that the city of Atlanta’s population – unlike that of most other major cities – is slowly becoming more white.

But, spend a bit of time fiddling with the dozens of levers and switches on the report’s interactive map and data exploration page , and you’ll find plenty more about how the city is changing (and staying the same).

Some examples:

Singles

Choose the “Cities” tab, “Households and families” on the “Subject” drop-down menu, and “Living alone households” on the drop-down labeled “Indicator.”.

Looks like there might be something to all the talk about Atlanta being a great place for single people. According to Broookings’ data, nearly 46 percent of Atlanta residents lived in single-person households in 2009, the second-highest percentage of the 95 cities listed and highest in the Southeast.

Now, change the indicator drop-down to “Change in living alone households since 2000.”

The report indicates that between 2000 and 2009, the number of single-person households in the city increased by nearly 47 percent, ranking it third amontg the 95 listed. One-person households increased by about 39 percent in the Atlanta metro area in the same period, which placed at number seven of 100. So, if you’re looking to meet someone, the odds are not only in your favor,  they seem to be getting better and better.

By the way, does anyone know what’s going on in McAllen, Texas? A 113 percent increase in less than ten years – what’s that about?

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Sardonic Christmas Traditions

Atlanta has always struck me as a place that eschews tradition. We have a young, mobile population, we tear down old buildings when they get old (or just abandon them to the point where it’s not a stretch to picture them as post-zombie-apocalypse), and generally tend to get excited about the next big thing, improving and tweaking and changing and leaving behind last year’s big thing.

Which doesn’t lend itself to a lot of tradition – even the Rich’s Macy’s tree has moved from downtown to Underground to Lenox, and the Pink Pig downgraded from mythical flying monorail

Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

Earth-bound. Might as well be one of those trains at Northpoint Mall.

that soared through the toy department to a flat track on the ground that chugs through Christmas decorations. Bummer.

In an effort to combat this crappiness and embrace the season, my friends and I have set upon a different tradition – going to the annual Santaland Diaries performance at the Horizon Theater in L5P. This year is their twelfth production of David Sedaris’s story, a completely bitter and sardonic one of an out-of-work writer who takes a job as a Macy’s Elf. Harold Leaver plays Crumpet the elf, and guys, the man make me laugh. Pretty hard.

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Woody’s Revisit

Struck by an unusually specific desire for a cheesesteak this weekend, Mr. Abby and I headed to Atlanta’s cheesesteak … um, champion … Woody’s. This is the longstanding shack perched in the triangular spit of land by Piedmont Park, traditionally plagued with crappy parking and crappy hours but blessed with delicious cheesesteaks. Funny, Ben posted about a Woody’s visit about this time last year – wouldn’t have thought that we’d gravitate towards even more heavy, greasy food around the holidays. This time around I had completely forgotten about the old hours situation (I swear they used to be open Tues-Sat 11-3) and went in blind, but was rewarded with a new owner, a slightly updated menu that featured the addition of a turkey cheesesteak, a 2-time 100% health inspection streak, and what appears to be an entirely different approach to doing business.

The cheesesteak was the same: well-cooked meat, onions and gooey cheese on soft fluffy bread. All that it ought to be, fully devoid of health benefits and full of deliciousness. It came out in less than 10 minutes, and I got the chance to chat a bit with the supereager guy working the counter. When I mentioned that I hadn’t eaten at Woody’s for a few years, he ran through all the changes the new owners (which may or may not have included him?) were taking on. Things like scooter delivery within a 4-5 mile radius, and cheep and local beer (well, one cheap and one local). He’s working on an iPhone app, too, that would (hopefully) allow them to deliver to picnickers in the park using GPS. Oh, and they take credit cards now, too!

My verdict is that Woody’s is the place to get a cheesesteak and a milkshake. In the wake of some really outstanding Atlanta eateries closing, it’s nice to support our locals. Especially when it tastes so good.


Happy Thanksgiving (night)!

I don’t usually go in for “family fun”-type events, but there wasn’t much else going on and I wanted to see what the big deal is.

Let us now observe a moment of silence for the spindly rose bush that I trampled in my haste to take these.

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Another home team

GSU - Alabama last week... a 63-7 loss for Atlanta's newest home team. Photo: Todd Drexler/Sideline Sports

Though I refuse to even DISCUSS the upcoming game on Saturday, I’m still going to post on football as if I know what I’m talking about. Georgia State’s football team ended their inaugural season last week after what could not have been a very enjoyable game against Alabama. While they did lose by a significant margin, they also did (a) score a touchdown off a kickoff return against last year’s national champions and (b) make $400k+ in one painful ass-whooping.

This CL article and its comments sum it up pretty succinctly. The team’s first season was immensely successful in many respects – a winning season (6-5), 30,000 fans at the first game, average attendance almost 17,000, and a bunch of optimistic fans looking forward to next season. I didn’t make it to any games this season but would really like to check one out next year. Did any of you go to a game in the Dome? What was the atmosphere like? Ticket prices? Family fun? Worth a look-see?

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Any predictions for pedicabs’ prospects for profitability?

NYC pedicab

Flickr photo by J. Yung

District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall wants to see pedicabs back on the streets in Atlanta.

The three-wheeled people-pullers disappeared from the city in the 1990s, according to Sunday’s AJC story, after running afoul of the already highly competitive taxi industry.

But with pedicabs now operating in Decatur and Marietta, and a prominent council member behind the effort, things could work out differently this time.

Compact and pollution-free? Yes.

Cheaper than a taxi to go just a few blocks? Almost certainly.

But, will touists or locals take to them? They certainly didn’t seem to have any use for the Circulator bus routes several years ago, despite the effort and expense MARTA went to with buying new redesigning buses and heavily publicizing the new routes.

Horse-drawn carriages still manage to eke out some business, though. Maybe novelty is more of a draw than speed sometimes.

Has anyone lived anywhere that had a long-standing pedicab business? Ever used one? Would you?


On Zombies

Love this shot, zombies or no - Freedom Parkway going into the city

For all my enthusiasm about all the movies and tv shows filmed recently in Atlanta, I’ve got to admit I haven’t really been interested in watching most of them.  Drop Dead Diva and Vampire Diaries, I’m sure they’re funny and/or cool, just not anything I’d normally watch. Same goes for that Miley Cyrus movie, most of the horror movies shot around here, and most of the Tyler Perry movies – just not for me.

MAJOR EXCEPTION: This new AMC miniseries the Walking Dead, which has just been renewed for another season. Filmed in – and set in – Atlanta! Love this. In my opinion, a good zombie movie generally gives us a little bit of social commentary, a little bit of survival story, and a little bit of gore, but zombies are just too slow and shambly to be terrifying (unless they’re the 28 Days Later sprinting rage-zombies which scare the living bejeez out of me).  This show fits my definition and is right up my alley – throw in my city and I’m a big fan. Tonight is the third episode. Last week was the big downtown scene, when main character Rick fights his way through throngs of zombie extras (and Abby repeatedly pauses the dvr and strains to identify familiar graffiti and pawn shops).  I got a little kick out of the fact that a lot of the “desolate” shots didn’t have to be altered – the closed-off bridge going to Elliot Street, the vines growing up along some of the buildings near 5 Points , abandoned storefronts – all look as they normally do.

Directed by Shawshank director Frank Darabont, based on a comic book series, I found the show exciting, well-paced, dramatic. Plus two of the main actors are British, and didn’t fuck up the Southern accent (a bad Southern accent makes me turn the tv off in a heartbeat, ATL zombies or no). And the more I talk about it, the more I hear about friends of friends who are working on it in some capacity, which means employment and income for Atlantans.

Have y’all seen this? It’s on tonight at 10 on AMC. Check it out. You missed the first couple episodes but I’m pretty sure you can catch up.  Zombie apocalypse. Pretty self-explanatory.


Metro migration: You ain’t from around here…or are you?

“Everyone is from somewhere else.”

That phrase, along with “Everything is so spread out,” has a way of cropping up in descriptions of Atlanta, whether from new arrivals or decades-long residents.

While it’s true that “somewhere else” is often another state, another part of the country or another hemisphere, most of the time it’s somewhere else in Georgia, probably just a county or two away. That’s the pattern that emerged in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s latest “Regional Snapshot” report on local migration, published in March.

ARC analyzed IRS data that tracks moves in and out of the commission’s 20-county planning area from 2000 through 2007 for the report.

Michael Carnathan, the ARC researcher who produced the report, said it took about ten days of “pretty intense crunching” of the IRS data, plus about three weeks of writing to wring a user-friendly presentation of the numbers out of the 500,000-row spreadsheet he started with.

Of the approximately 3,128,896 people who moved into one of the 20 Atlanta metro counties between 2000 and 2007, nearly 60 percent came from within Georgia, and more than 52 percent moved from one metro county to another.
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CHOMP

Tomorrow Cabbagetown will host what is inarguably the city’s best festival of the year – that’s right kids, it’s Chomp and Stomp time! As the website says, what’s better than chili on a sunny November afternoon? Oh – chili and beer and music in the coolest, most welcoming neighborhood in the city, that’s what.

Things will get kicked off in the morning with a 5k (my participation in this will be sitting on my porch drinking coffee and blasting music for the runners), then chili starts being served exactly at noon. You’ve got about an hour to taste the individual entrants’ chili, a few more for the restaurants. Spoons are $5.

This year it’s bigger than ever before, which means more celebration, more chili, more vendors and volunteers and revelers, and more street closings. So if you’re headed our way, I’d say don’t bother driving. They’ll be running free fur buses between the MLK Marta station and the festival, and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition will have a bike valet. You might be able to park in Inman Park, but honestly, after all that chili you might want to go for a little walk or bike ride anyway.

Every year it's the most gorgeous fall day. Thanks to jramspott on flickr for the photo.

One more change this year: thanks to Milltown Arms, we are finally able to stop using the Styrofoam chili cups and plastic spoons! They provided compostable alternatives, which is huge, but the organizers are asking for help because no one ever puts things in the correct bin. So I’m helping spread the word – CHILI SPOONS AND CHILI CUPS GO IN RED BINS. Red. Bins. Thanks.

Here’s a map with all the details, or you can check out the Chomp and Stomp website.

I will be pouring Sweetwaters in Esther Peachy Park (the little one at Powell and Wylie) at 3:00, so swing by and say hello!

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Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde and Baseball

What do these three things have in common? Well, I’m glad you asked. It just so happens that the lovely import from the North and Maxim’s Hottest Woman of 2009 are filming a new movie, The Change-Up, in Atlanta. And, they want you to be a part of it. This weekend, at Turner Field, the production needs extras…and lots of them. Extras get free parking, a free lunch and a chance at some raffle prizes. But, here’s an even better reason to check it out. For every extra that attends, the production company will donate five dollars to the Atlanta Braves Foundation Charity on their behalf. Check out the details here and register here. Someone say hi to Ryan for me, eh?


A Critical Mass

Yep, a table. Made for a little bit of a blind spot, not the safest of biking practices.

Me, I have trouble deciding what stance to take on Critical Mass. I like the spirit and the message (a fun, entertaining way to promote bicycles as viable vehicles with which to share our streets), but not the means of conveying it (blocking traffic and running lights). I’ve also been one to pretty much always do what a policeman tells me to do, especially if he is looking me in the eye and telling me to stop at a red light (yes, sir!).

All that caveat business aside, the Halloween Critical Mass is tonight. If you do just one Critical Mass, this is the one to do. It’s the biggest – I’d expect well over 300 people. The weather will be sunny, clear and cool. And I’d say 2/3 of the bikers dress up, often in preposterous costumes. Even the AJC kinda likes it.

You probably oughta check this one out. If you’re in town, you’ll probably get caught in the traffic anyway. Critical Mass is a pretty unofficial organization, but meets in Woodruff Park for a “slow and scenic” ride downtown the last Friday of every month around 6pm. If you don’t have a bike, borrow one. If you don’t want to ride a bike, go check out the costumes. Happy Friday!

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Football in the city

I was never much of a football girl. I grew up with a vague notion of hating aggies (whatever those were) and as a toddler would hook ‘em horns on command, but the actual football part never caught my eye. In college I always thought I had better things to do than cheer on my tiny college football team with 1,000 other people in an empty, echoey Super Dome.

Evidence. Actually enjoying myself at a football game.

In grad school I was lured to a tailgate with promises of sun, friends, BBQ, and beer on a pretty Saturday afternoon. I grudgingly went. We are not sports people. I don’t paint my face and support the team. Please. That day – who knew? I enjoyed a few sweetwaters, good company and a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. Well, huh! Football is awesome! I eventually even made it to a game! And, slowly, grew to be a Georgia Tech football fan.

And now, Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field is where I spend my home-game Saturdays. We sit in the back row of the east stands, where you can see the entire field and still catch a breeze wafting off the connector, where a group of friends congregates and stomps and cheers and sings and toasts the Yellow Jackets. It’s completely different from the typical small-town college football experience, as we are smack dab in the center of midtown Atlanta. Over my left shoulder towers the Bank of America building, and to my right, the midtown skyline. Night games are gorgeous, and if we’ve had too much to drink, we’ll walk a few blocks down Peachtree and catch a cab home. Read more


Mapping Our Snapping

Atlanta photo map

Flickr photo by Eric Fischer

For the “How do people think of this stuff?” file:

Eric Fischer created this map of Atlanta locals’ and tourists’ favorite photo-taking spots, using geotagging data from Flickr and Picassa. Atlanta’s is one of a series of 122 such maps from around the world.

No surprises in the favorite areas for tourists – the CNN/Centennial Olympic Park/WOC/GA Acquarium area, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the MLK memorial are among the most popular. Locals pull out the cameras most often at the Krog Street Tunnel, East Atlanta Village, downtown Decatur and, oddly, all along Ponce. Oakland Cemetery, Piedmont Park and L5P have an even-ish split.

The CL story I originally came across the map in left out the answer to one commenter’s very good question: How did Fischer know who took which pictures?

On the first page of the series he explains that “Blue points on the map are pictures taken by locals (people who have taken pictures in this city dated over a range of a month or more).

Red points are pictures taken by tourists (people who seem to be a local of a different city and who took pictures in this city for less than a month).”

Yellow points indicate that he was unable to determine whether the photographer was a tourist, because the person who posted it hadn’t taken and posted any pictures from anywhere for longer than a month.

“They are probably tourists,” Fischer wrote, “but might just not post many pictures at all.”

I’m about half illiterate cartographically, so what I really want to know is how the people who made made the notes on the Atlanta Flickr photo were sure what they were tagging on a map with no streets names.

Of course there’s a significant limitation here in that the map only tells us about the photo-taking habits of people who use Flickr or Picassa and who go to the trouble to geotag their pictures. It’s really cool just the same.


Get out (of the house)!

It's fall, y'all

Now is the time to get outside people! The weather is supposed to be excellent this weekend and there are several festivalish (yes, I speak my own language, Stephanese) events going on around town. So, go, leave the house, leave the computer, and see what this city has to offer. Here are just a few ideas:

Taste of Atlanta – Saturday and Sunday, October 23-24, at Technology Square (intersection of 5th and Spring)
In addition to the normal food fare, there will also be a village showcasing the local sustainable movement with a local farmers’ market as well. Tickets are a little steep ($25 in advance, $30 at the event) but that does get you 15 Taste coupons to use at any of the various restaurant tents.

Candler Park Fall Fest – Saturday and Sunday, October 23-24, at Candler Park
There is a 5K race Saturday morning at 11:00 am before the festival begins at noon. The ever popular Tour of Homes runs from noon-6 pm on Sunday. The festival is free but the Tour of Homes will cost you $12 in advance or $15 on Sunday. I highly recommend the Tour of Homes if you can spare the cash. I’ve never been disappointed.

Dunwoody Music Festival – Saturday and Sunday, October 23-24, at Brook Run Park
There is a chili cook-off from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm on Saturday. On Sunday, there will be a battle of the bands and a classic car show, both beginning at noon. There will also be fireworks Saturday night (so be prepared if you live in the area). Regular tickets range from $10-$15 (including both one and two day passes) with other special pricing deals for adults/children, etc.

I’m sure there is a lot more going on in the city this weekend so feel free to let us know what you’re going to be doing while the weather is warm (but not too warm).

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