When seen from above, Atlanta looks like an anomaly — an improbable cluster of skyscrapers cradled in a blanket of green. But this is a place comfortable with contradictions, a big city that never outgrew its small-town charms and an urban center flirting with a forest. Dubbed the “city of trees,” Atlanta has recently felt more like the city of cranes: An unprecedented building boom is transforming the inner city and has ushered in a new era of hometown enthusiasm.
Vestiges of the Old South still remain — the famous hospitality, the appetite for sweet tea, and an eye-popping explosion of dogwood blossoms every spring — but you just might stumble across the “Dirty South” hip-hop scene mixed among the magnolias.
As you walk the streets of Midtown, marvel at the sparkling new high-rises, developments that have brought new residents, restaurants, shops, and public spaces. Hit the bars in Virginia-Highland or along Crescent Avenue and you’ll discover an Atlanta that savors both excitement and comfort, a town of fine dining, friendly neighbors, and ferocious nightlife.
Sure, the old standards are still popular. Kids still splash in Centennial Olympic Park’s fountain, and shoppers still flood Lenox Square Mall in glitzy Buckhead. But such favorites have been augmented by newcomers like the stunning Georgia Aquarium or the sudden arrival of Atlantic Station — virtually a town of its own.
In 2005, officials unveiled the city’s new slogan, “Atlanta: Every day is an opening day.” It may not be literally true, nor will it ever replace the city’s many other nicknames, but the motto sums up the spirit of the times in Atlanta, a vigorous, contradictory, and fascinating American success story.
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© Tray Butler from Moon Atlanta, 1st Edition