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Song of the Raft Race

18 Oct

Deal with it; summer is over! It’s totally fall! We know this because of the 400 Facebook invitations to different Halloween things at Mary’s that arrived over the past 24 hours, and because our most recent Georgia Power bill was in the double digits, and because we wistfully tucked away our river swimsuits and crusty river sandals for safekeeping until next year’s tubing trips. The Chattahoochee River is fun and disgusting and and there’s nothing quite as free in the winter. The Chattahoochee River is still (sub)urban and not too far away and definitely not the Chattooga, the real river of Deliverance. The Chattahoochee is no Mississippi River but it has still provoked the writing of terrible songs and beautiful poems, and vice versa.

Most importantly, the Chattahoochee River did not give anyone flesh-eating bacteria this summer, which still seems unbelievable.

If you are already looking for holiday gifts already and want to continue celebrating the Hooch, may we direct you to this Ramblin’ Raft Race t-shirt that is on Ebay right now for $75?

May 21, 1977. Calvin Cruce (AJC) via GSU

What is the Ramblin’ Raft Race? Well, obviously it’s something that doesn’t exist anymore because the hippies had too much fun with it. And so it was also sponsored by WQXI, sponsor of all things cool in the ’70s in Atlanta like Bike Day.

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Happy Thanksgiving

23 Nov

Woman in corn field, surrounded by harvest vegetable crops, holding a live turkey, Georgia, 1930s

Man holds an axe, looking down at turkeys in front of him, November 1940

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A wonk down memory lane

23 Nov

There are days and weeks when we literally cannot remember why we live in Atlanta other than because all our stuff is already here. Only a force as powerful as the History Twins can nurse us back from full-on fatigue to just dull listlessness.

Hey, snap out of it, you! This is truly one of the most amusing, ineffable episodes of them all. Especially if you like grand sweeping staircases and the letters “DOT” flying in your face. Oh, and more visuals with FOOD. You’ll see soon enough.

Here’s how the third-to-last episode of The Making of Modern Atlanta starts:

WHOA WHOA WHOA!! What is this? Clearly we are impeding on some sort of fancy dinner and similarly fancy conversation…

Dr. White: “…Maybe when we’re shooting The Making of the Modern Riviera.” [Inhales goblet deeply.]
“Mmm, delicate fragrance. Fine taste. Robust but not ill-mannered. Ah, what’s the vintage?”
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History Twins, will you mayor-y me?

25 Oct

We are officially over the hill with The Making of Modern Atlanta. The second installment aired in 1993, two years after the first four episodes. The History Twins were still high off their regional Emmy nomination for “How We Played The Game” and ready to rock the PBA audience demanding more, more, more History Twins! This reinforced confidence in their game led to a few new snazzy enhancements on the series, like wackier introductions to each episode, Dr. White accenting his safari jackets with a little color base, and a new design to the titles and whatever it’s called that tells you the name of the person talking on the screen.
Our fifth episode of TMOMA starts at City Hall, with the words we all dream of hearing spoken to us one day…

“Mr. Mayor, Professors Crimmins and White are here to see you.”“Who?” Continue reading

The episode with the inevitable Field of Dreams allusions

18 Oct

Wow, it’s been a while! We have not abandoned you, gentle readers, and have in the past month learned a valuable lesson about unplugging one’s DVD player from all those other things. And during football season! Of all the times to not be able to watch this:
That’s a baseball field but later on they get to football.

In our last viewing of The Making of Modern Atlanta, the History Twins explored the mysterious suburbs and exurbs, where all the Pier 1 Tuscan Heritage Collection wine racks and Rubbermaid bids used as children’s furniture in the world cannot keep up with the sprawling tentacles of cul-de-sacs and Colonial Williamsburg strip malls. (I know, I know; that run-on sentence is inconsistent because this show was filmed in the early ’90s and Tuscan decor didn’t hit big time until a decade later.) And if this is the first time you’re joining us on our serial exploration of The Making of Modern Atlanta, please start back here.)

Now we will explore the next means by which Atlanta has expanded beyond its capabilities for quality and long-term sustainability: major league sports. The History Twins LOVE sports.

Literally the first sentence of this episode has a Field of Dreams reference. “Atlantan Billy Payne heard a voice: ‘If you build it, they will come.'” So now we know that this, like many of the episodes of TMOMA, will be framed in the context of Olympics anxiety: “Have we made it? Is Atlanta Losersville or a big-league city?”

Somehow, I feel the answer to that question will be both.
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The Making of Modern Suburban Atlanta; or, The Great Dunwoody Tennis Boom of 1991

14 Sep

Now we all know how everyone left the city (on roads, in their cars) but to where did they go? That’s what episode three of The Making of Modern Atlanta is all about.“The development of suburbs and exurbs raise many thorny issues for the making of modern Atlanta.”

The History Twins meet us by Arabia Mountain in DeKalb County. I love when they both go casual at the same time. Continue reading

The History Twins: Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…

1 Sep

How could there even be another episode of The Making of Modern Atlanta after that last one? What more is there to say about Atlanta?

First of all, it may take a bit of explaining to tell you what’s going on in this picture below. Once upon a time, there was a “construction” industry in Atlanta. They actually “built” “buildings” rather than just setting off news stories about planned developments. These “buildings” and their corresponding “construction” required a great deal of “money” that came from “jobs” and “investments”.
Now you might better comprehend the context of this episode.

It begins with our good friend Tim Crimmins anxiously scaling the heights of the Peachtree Plaza.
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The Making of Modern Atlanta: 20 years later

30 Aug

The year: 1991. The Olympics: Five years away. Atlanta: Hadn’t done a thing to prepare itself for the event it was pinning its every hope and dream for the future on.

Ready to blow the lid off this whole “Atlanta” thing – for the entire world to see, on Public Broadcasting Atlanta, with the help of that shadowy group called the Georgia Humanities Council.

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Little 5 Points, 1990

1 Jul

We won’t ruin any of the beautiful moments in this clip from People TV‘s Atlanta Lifestyles by describing them with vulgar words. Just watch!

Previously: Autumn refreshment

Another modest proposal

5 May

While on the Ponce kick from yesterday, we found this clever little article by one “Slab Towner” in the July 1984 issue of The Great Speckled Bird proposing an Atlanta Fast Food Historic District:

The creation of an “Atlanta Fast Food Historic District” in the area of Ponce de Leon, Boulevard and North Avenues, to maintain the historic value of the area, could serve to protect the fast food and convenience stores from unfair competition from other potential retailers who might employ vicious tactics, like offering quality and lower prices, to drive them out of business. A certain percentage of the land would have to be devoted fast foods and convenience, just like it is now, forever.

This modest proposal could also serve as a model for other areas seeking such designations, like the Memorial Drive Strip Center Archeological District, to preserve the remnants of the earliest days of “white flight” in the southern portions of Fulton and DeKalb, or even the selection of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Parking Lots as a National Historic Site to show precisely how sensitive and responsible a white local government can be in balancing community needs for frivolous stuff like housing and the desires of big business for a Big League City with Big League profit opportunities, and fast.

27 years ago, folks! Get the full article here.

And y’all gotta go to the DeKalb History Center‘s exhibit “The Great Speckled Bird: The Turbulent Sixties in Atlanta, 1968-1976” that opens May 17 (I know – only two of those years were the actual sixties). We’ve heard it’s so good, and hope to see lots of photos and former residents of the infamous Pershing Point Apartments!

In the meantime: Boyd Lewis’ “Hippies in Atlanta! However did they get in?” on Like the Dew and Tales of Old Atlanta.

Previously: This week in history: Edgewood Avenue increasing in importance and popularity

Anarchy in the PDL

4 May

Here’s another charming reminder of Atlanta’s relentless gentrification and decline and unfulfilled threat of gentrification and even further decline: An early ’80s be-turtlenecked Tom Zarrilli performing “Destroy Midtown”, a vicious punk number with the band Attack and Decay to protest the closing of the Nitery Club on Ponce.

Warning: Contains satirical adult language and graphic descriptions of violence inflicted on landlords and Evil Real Estate Developers!

If you’ve been on his tour of Ponce de Leon Avenue, you’ll recall that the Nitery Club is where the owner sold Italian men’s dress shoes behind the bar. According to Mr. Zarrilli, after the Nitery Club shut down, it briefly became a gay bar, and then a Greek restaurant called the Golden Dolphin. Now it is that grown-up version of a college dining hall adored by overcooked pasta lovers all over town, Eats.

As we’ve mentioned before, there’s been a long-time fear of Ponce de Leon Avenue becoming upscale or overly yuppie. Now there is a Whole Foods, a Chipotle, and an Urban Outfitters on Ponce – all signs of modern middle-class retail development. But there is also the vandalized City Hall East, the rotting empty Clermont Hotel, Model T bar, the mysterious Lake Building, and the woman who pleasures herself on a beach towel in front of the vacant Wachovia at the corner of Monroe Avenue. Ponce doesn’t have a Smut Busters like Cheshire Bridge Road (well, Midtown Ponce Security Alliance) but there is an ongoing resentment of the crime and blight issues related to the sharp divide between Midtown and Old Fourth Ward that Ponce represents, as well as, on the other hand, the isolated development or “revitalization” that has happened (don’t even get us started on Sembler parking lots and in the ’50s and ’60s what an article in The Great Speckled Bird alluded to as “a shadowy group called the Ponce de Leon Association”). Everything we find about Ponce’s condition since the dissolution of Atlanta’s urban core echoes the same concerns, like everything else about Atlanta ever – but we’re too busy to be self-reflective or observe multi-decade patterns of failure!

Do you think “Destroy Midtown” played last Saturday night when 3 Legged Cowboy closed?

According to our sources, there should be another tour of Ponce this spring/early summer, so watch the Urban Hiking blog or email list for updates.

Previously: Plaza Drugs through the ages

Step it up

12 Apr

These photos, taken by Thomas Askew, were collected by W.E.B. DuBois and shown in his “Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 to demonstrate middle-class African-American life in America. Askew photographed many of his scenes in Atlanta because that was where black middle-class life could be had. DuBois wanted to show progress, education, and prosperity – the lives of the “talented tenth” – in the African-American community, not the suffering and tribulation that was typically the focus of national and international attention on his race. Read DuBois’ description/review of the show, “An American Negro in Paris,” in The American Monthly Review of Reviews.

But on a lighter note – watch your step for some serious fashion!!

Atlanta University

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The modern past

10 Mar

Atlmalcontent re-posted these photos of the now-terrifying/awe-inspiring C&S bank on Moreland from DOCOMOMO. LOOK AT THEM ALL. (There are only three.)

Previously: Latest obsessions

The door to your dreams

28 Feb

Look what we turned up – an untagged/unlabeled photograph featuring the main entrance to Burt’s Place at the Omni International complex, circa 1980.

Via Jeff.Ford on Flickr

We’re all going to have to learn to deal with the fact that that marquee was a real thing! Maybe it’s archived at the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum?

Previously: The swing of things at Burt’s Place

Viaduct mysteries exposed!

17 Feb

There’s another Unseen Underground tour next Saturday (February 26), plus two during the Phoenix Flies festival! You now have absolutely no excuse to miss it.

Seriously, move fast – these things fill up.

UPDATE: Tour guide Jeff Morrison’s email address is here; contact him directly if you want to reserve a spot on any of the walks.

Previously: The endangered marine life of Overground Atlanta

Destination Atlanta

24 Jan

Nowadays if you try to give your mom a surprise trip to Atlanta, she worries about Freaknik traffic until you agree to just meet her at the Panera at Mall of Georgia instead.

This week in history: Edgewood Avenue increasing in importance and popularity

17 Oct

The Atlanta Constitution, October 25, 1925


The Atlanta Constitution, unsure about exact date but also 1925

Is it too obvious to say “sound familiar?

Previously: The city too busy to change

Members only

14 Oct

Doesn’t everyone just want to belong, after all? I wonder if any of us have what it took to maintain a membership at one of these fine organizations.

4-H Club, 1942

4-H Club, 1942

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The swing of things at Burt’s Place

5 Oct

Before Tyler Perry, there was Burt Reynolds. But beyond making Georgia the number three state in film production and bringing all kinds of movie stars like Sally Field to Atlanta, he also dallied in the ultimate celebrity investment – the restaurant/nightclub venture.*

I found this photo in the book Atlanta: A Celebration (1978), suspiciously also penned by Galphin and Shavin (the same Chamber of Commerce-funded authors of Atlanta: Triumph of the People). The caption reads “…or join in the swing of things (Burt’s Place, Omni International).” Yep, that’s Reynolds’ signature mustache in stained glass on the dance floor before a live rock ‘n’ roll band. (I’m not sure why the floor says “Burt’s Joint” instead of Place.)

Burt’s Place was a Burt Reynolds-themed restaurant/nightclub and was only open for one year in the late ’70s in the never-quite-successful-enough Omni International complex (also home to the short-lived World of Sid and Marty Krofft). After Burt’s Place’s long and storied tenure in Atlanta, the space later housed the Broadway-themed cabaret called the Manhattan Yellow Pages. I like to think that the energy and hipness of Burt’s Place and its clientele paved the way for Atlanta’s most famous Kroger-adjacent disco – Limelight!

*”Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges cordially invite [sic] you to Straits,” anyone?

Previously: Vintage violence

Buckhead Betties

22 Sep

This goes out to all the North Atlanta ladies who kept it real by wearing slacks, working 9-5s, driving cars, going out for drinks after work with the girls, and mastering sassy creative expressions. (And if you thought Young Blood invented the shop cat, think again! But they did probably invent the shop cat tattoo.)

Storefront (1942)


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