Archive | March, 2012

Atlanta Streets Alive Moves to North Highland

25 Mar

Atlanta Streets Alive is moving from downtown to a route planned to run two miles along North Highland Avenue from Inman Park to Virginia-Highland. from Old Fourth Ward, through Inman Park and Poncey-Highland to Virginia-Highland.*

The free, semiannual street festival and bike tour, scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. May 20, was launched downtown in 2010. The event’s food, fitness, arts, dance and music activities took place along parts of Edgewood and Auburn Avenues for the first two years, but with construction of the downtown streetcar loop now underway, ASA’s organizers had to find a new site.

Rebecca Serna, executive director of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, said that organizers had planned to eventually try other sites around the city, but the construction “was the kick that we needed” to go ahead and take the show on the road. Increasing bike-friendliness  is a Poncey-Highland neighborhood priority, Serna said, and response from residents and businesses in the area has been “really enthusiastic.”

ASA is still seeking volunteers, sponsors and “activity partners” for this year’s event.

*Updated to reflect ASA’s amended route outline, which now aligns with the boundaries in the City of Atlanta’s NPU and neighborhood maps.

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The things you see…

25 Mar

On the 110 bus on Saturday night.

Beer on the bus

Probably not from a MARTA vending machine.

MMPT public meeting Wednesday night

12 Mar
Gulch, facing north

The area of downtown known as "the gulch" seen from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, facing north

Central Atlanta Progress is hosting a public information meeting Wednesday to discuss the Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal project planned for (eventual) construction in the downtown “gulch.”

“The project team will introduce the project and provide background on planning efforts surrounding the MMPT, as well as why this process is different,” CAP said in an email. Planned topics of discussion are “the national trend of transit-oriented development (TOD), the role of public/private partnerships, the relationship of the MMPT to the City of Atlanta and the State, and how this project can help build a stronger Downtown.”

The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Georgia Pacific building at 133 Peachtree Street. Georgia Pacific is right next door to the Peachtree Center MARTA station and is also served by the route 110 bus.

Phoenix Flies

11 Mar

Phoenix Flies flier by the Atlanta Preservation Center

Via Architecture Tourist, a reminder that the Atlanta Preservation Center’s 10th annual Phoenix Flies walking tour series is underway. This year’s series runs from March 10 to 25 and is scheduled to include more than 165 free events at more than 60 locations. 

APC began Phoenix Flies in 2003 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fox Theatre’s narrow escape from demolition. Since then it’s grown to include tours and lectures in historic neighborhoods and sites all over the city, offering opportunities for more and more of us to learn about places that we really should have been to, but aren’t even quite sure how to find. Or maybe that’s just me.

Did you know…

8 Mar

That there’s a produce market downtown and that it’s been there for almost 20 years? 

The State of Georgia office building at 2 Peachtree Street, with its gates, revolving doors and empty street-level retail spaces, doesn’t look particularly inviting at ground level. Everything about it seems to say “keep going” rather than “come in.” It certainly doesn’t give the impression that one could walk in with $10 and leave with three apples, three oranges, a pound of strawberries, some freshly roasted cashews, a slice of cheesecake and a couple of dollars change. 

 

 

There’s no sign for R & R Produce on either the Marietta or Peachtree Street side of the building. The store is about as deep as a large office cubicle and it takes only around 15 steps to walk the length of it. But the sliver of ground floor space is jammed with fruits and vegetables, most of them from the Forest Park Farmers Market.

 

The owners greet some of the shoppers by name, but even speak to those they’ve just met as if they’re long-separated friends. Office workers, students and people struggling to wrangle small, antsy children stand patiently in the single line to pay (cash or EBT only). As they wait, the shoppers marvel at the variety of foods and remark on the low prices. Usually at least one person says “I had no idea this place was here.”

 

Lingering Effects

5 Mar
loitering is good

Photo by Flickr user nitrodog

Among the many and varied complaints about urban life in Atlanta, one rarely hears “There aren’t enough people just hanging around.” It’s much more common to hear the opposite (see any discussion of Atlantic Station or Five Points). But places where people of all ages and backgrounds can just spend time during almost any part of the day – without being expected to buy something or pay admission – have long been known by urban planners as vital to successful cities.

Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities reflects on how being out on the street, especially at night, became something that people in most American cities just don’t do.

“We went to great lengths to discourage the wrong people from hanging around, but this of course discouraged everyone else as well.”

Increased suburbanization and car ownership in American cities during the last 50 years have also meant increased privatization of leisure activities. For people who can afford them, home theaters, gym memberships, backyard playground equipment, indoor malls and chain coffee shops now replace the city centers, public parks and plazas that used to serve as community living rooms. People with other choices for places to spend their time drifted away from the streets. People without those choices stayed. Soon almost the only people hanging around on the street were people with nowhere else to go, leaving the impression that the streets were no place for “regular” people. At that point, Badger says, what would have once been called “lingering,” became “loitering.”

Laws and design standards meant to combat loitering led to the creation of even more uninviting, and thus emptier, streets. People like places where there are other people. Therefore, nobody goes where nobody goes.

Some cities are successfully throwing that trend into reverse with projects like Chicago’s Millennium Park and New York’s High Line. Less wealthy cities will have to get more creative, Badger says, by carving out smaller, cheaper “oases” of public space for lingering. Until then, the streets will remain places where the police keep trying to chase the “wrong” people away, while everyone else stays home.

The Things You See…

1 Mar

…on the floor of the #16 bus

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