CityLove: Atlanta Edition
Up next in our CityLove series: Atlanta, a city that holds true to its motto of resurgens -- Latin for "rising again." Atlanta is a city of constant growth and new beginnings: railroad town, higher-education center, state capital, commerce center, Summer Olympics site, and modern-day global city. When researching Atlanta, two major themes emerged.
A city with rich history: Founded in 1837, Atlanta has seen incredible growth in population and infrastructure, and its buildings and neighborhoods reflect this ongoing metamorphosis. A great starting point for discovering this rich history is the Atlanta History Center, which includes two historic homes, 22 acres of gardens and trails, and the Kenan Research Center.
Interested in the Civil War? Check out the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, which includes a massive painting and diorama in-the-round depicting the Battle of Atlanta.
Atlanta’s 4,678-seat Fox Theatre, which was designed for movies and live performances, replicates an Arabian courtyard, complete with a night sky of 96 embedded crystal "stars" -- a third of which flicker -- and a projection of clouds that slowly drift across the "sky."
Documenting Atlanta’s role in the Civil Right Movement is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, which includes the boyhood home of Dr. King and his final resting place. What's more, in the near future, Atlanta will be the site of the future National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Another major history attraction is the Jimmy Carter Center and Presidential Library, where one can see a full-scale replica of the Oval Office. And a visit to Atlanta wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the fabulous Fox Theatre, which helped jump-start Atlanta’s historic preservation efforts.
A city reinventing itself: Burned to the ground by General Sherman during his March to the Sea in 1864, Atlanta is a city that has reinvented itself, a theme that continues today. One example is the Beltline, the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the city.
A current work in progress, the former rail corridor will eventually form a loop around Atlanta’s core, with 22 miles of pedestrian-friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, roughly 5,600 units of affordable housing, and 1,100 acres of remediated brownfields.
The Sweet Auburn historic district is dominated by Auburn Avenue, which was once known as “the richest Negro street in the world.” Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, Sweet Auburn is an example of the flourishing segregated neighborhoods founded by African Americans during the Jim Crow era in the South.
All throughout Atlanta, neighborhoods are undergoing transformations and are recognizing the value of historic preservation. The Sweet Auburn Historic District is one of our National Treasures, and other communities include Virginia Highlands, Midtown, and Ansley Park. (Insider tip: The Atlanta Preservation Center offers walking tours of many of these neighborhoods.)
Another project that caught our eye was Dashboard Co-op, who produces temporary art exhibitions in vacant Atlanta properties. Of the 12 exhibitions they have hosted in vacant properties since 2010, 11 of those spaces now house thriving businesses.
Curious about getting involved with the local preservation groups? We recommend starting with the Atlanta Preservation Center -- which just completed their annual Phoenix Flies event -- or the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, which does work statewide.