what’s wrong with atlanta (cont’d)

There was a time, I’m told, when Atlantans frequented downtown. A combination of white flight and institutional neglect turned the city into a blander version of Detroit through the 1980s and 90s, though a recent influx of urban pioneers has brought some signs of life back to Marthasville’s streets.

Their presence indicates the potential for a downtown revival, but misplaced priorities and a lack of imagination by local officials continue to stand in the way.

Maybe they’d do better trying to reach a wider audience, one that includes the people who actually live here. Instead, every effort at downtown revitalization is aimed at tourists. What else explains the misbegotten attempt to lure — and fund — a NASCAR museum?

I guess that would give the conventioneers somewhere to go besides the aquarium, strip clubs and one of our many fine shopping malls. Too bad they don’t enjoy classical music; maybe then the city would pony up some dough for the proposed Atlanta Symphony Center.

Or how ’bout hiring more cops? As I reported in Saturday’s AJC, even the panhandlers think there’s too much panhandling in Atlanta.

I was solicited a dozen times one night. That’s not an exaggeration. Most of the beggars are aggressive and in-your-face. Some are threatening. No doubt the homeless are to be pitied, and helped, if possible, but enabling the desperate benefits no one.

Of course, if you hang at the aquarium, or Philips Arena, you’re less likely to encounter a panhandler, particularly if there’s a big convention or event downtown. I’m all for making visitors welcome, but must those of us who call Atlanta home be confined to the metaphorical pull-out?

5 responses to “what’s wrong with atlanta (cont’d)”

  1. Yeah, the city seems to always find money for projects that will (supposedly) boost tourism – e.g. Coke Museum, Aquarium, NASCAR Museum, Civil Rights Museum, Underground – but when residents request funding for amenities that will make the city better for everybody, such as sidewalk repairs, new bike lanes, etc – the city always cries poor mouth. We’ve seen it time and again – I don’t know when (if) it will ever change. Don’t those idiots know that the reason a downtown is successful is because its residents use it?

    Look at the new Civil Rights Museum that they are talking about – while I agree with having one built in Atlanta – the city government and it’s residents let the authentic civil rights history deteriorate or fall to the wrecking ball (see story on Herndon Building in today’s AJC). Pathetic.

  2. it’s a good article on a very sad topic. i am going to reference it in my marta post tomorrow…

  3. Crime is actually decreasing in downtown Atlanta while it increases just about everywhere else in the city. Downtown also has 30,000 residents, whereas historically it was never a residential area. There’s still some stigma associated with Downtown, and it does go underutilized, but it’s not necessarily that district’s fault – the city incentivizes projects like Atlantic Station (build a brand-new, fake downtown!) instead of funneling more commerce and incentives into Downtown.

  4. Here’s the deal: ATL will continue to splinter until someone with real balls decides to unite Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett, and yes, Cobb into a cohesive political unit a la NYC. The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan are not only separate boroughs of the same city, but they’re separate counties as well! Hell, now they want to form Milton county, too.

    The OTP’ers like to come into town—for work, pleasure, etc.—but they don’t feel any sense of community and, accordingly, there’re 5 or 10 separate public transit systems in said counties. And you still can’t go East to fricking West! What’s more, Grady Hospital—which takes indigents from all these counties—constantly has to go around with its hat in hand. I could go on.

    I’ve just discovered your blog. Cool beans. I’m an ATL blogger too. Drop by for some wit and wisdom!


    And add me to your list!

    Jim H.

  5. […] been saying this for years, and, regrettably, it still rings […]

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