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Atlanta in the 70s

A series of articles I wrote for the local organ in 2009 about one of Atlanta’s most formative decades:

“Ground zero” of the sexual revolution

At Riverbend, weekends started on Wednesdays, typically in the complex’s notorious clubhouse. The revelry had no boundaries, few rules and, for a brief, blissful period, minimal consequences.

“We were the Quaalude generation,” said Freeman, now 59. “They called it the sex drug.”

Locals had a more clinical name, one best ignored in a family newspaper.

“Underneath the viaduct” 

It’s as if the Atlanta Board of Aldermen saw the ’70s coming.

In 1968, the board declared a deserted five-block area near Five Points a historic district, seeking to create an Atlanta version of the French Quarter.

In the early 20th century, the area had been covered by concrete viaducts to improve traffic flow over railroad tracks. As new streets were constructed overhead, a bevy of juke joints and speakeasys thrived underground.

I thought he was crazy”

At an introductory banquet for the new team owner by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, [Ted] Turner appeared intoxicated, said Hope, who was in the audience. At one point during his rambling speech, Turner noted how the candles on one side of the room were burning faster than those on the other.

The roots of Clusterfuck

“Atlanta is on the threshold of greatness, but has a long way to go. A metro transit system is a must.”

—- Former Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., 1960

On June 30, 1979, MARTA launches the East Line from Avondale to the Georgia State Station, the first stage of its rapid-transit system and the culmination of more than 20 years of planning.

“Atlanta’s different. It’s not like the rest of the South”

When author Pearl Cleage moved to Atlanta from Washington in 1969 to attend Spelman College, she expected the Old South.

“Lester Maddox was the governor,” noted Cleage, referring to Georgia’s segregationist chief executive.

 Instead, she found herself immersed in a progressive political movement on the verge of history.

“Everyone knew there was a big change coming,” Cleage said.

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