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Best of Atlanta 2012 Cityscape

Best Of Atlanta 2012 Cityscape Large


Cityscape

Best gateway to somewhere better

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Driving up the roadway lined with flags and corporate overlord Delta Air Lines, you oddly feel like you're not in Atlanta, but in a parallel dimension. You notice the sleek building - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal - on your left. Consideredmore...
Driving up the roadway lined with flags and corporate overlord Delta Air Lines, you oddly feel like you're not in Atlanta, but in a parallel dimension. You notice the sleek building - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal - on your left. Considered Atlanta's new front door to the world, the 1.2-million-square-foot concourse - which is decked out with airy atriums and chock-full of public art - is a vast improvement over the former terminal. What will most delight frequent international travelers: arrivals no longer have to recheck their bags, and go back through security, to exit the damn airport, as they did for years at the main concourse. Yes, there were news reports about alleged favoritism over concessions programs. There was debate over whether it was really needed. There's no direct connection to MARTA rail, a major fault. And some tourists have complained about sore feet from all the walking. But the new terminal remains a wonderful addition to the bizarrely beautiful, romantic, and impressive busiest airport in the world. less...

Best political move

Building Marta
Yeah, yeah, we can hear the complaints. It doesn't go anywhere. It's dirty. It doesn't work. But before you bemoan life with MARTA, first imagine life without it. In the late 1960s, metro Atlanta snagged federal funding left on the table by Seattle voters after they decided not to create a transit system.more...
Yeah, yeah, we can hear the complaints. It doesn't go anywhere. It's dirty. It doesn't work. But before you bemoan life with MARTA, first imagine life without it. In the late 1960s, metro Atlanta snagged federal funding left on the table by Seattle voters after they decided not to create a transit system. Racism and myopia caused the suburbs to say "No thanks" to the regional transit agency. And state lawmakers never showed much interest - but plenty of hostility. More than 40 years later, we have a system that connects the heart of the city to the world's busiest airport - a luxury that not all aviation hubs can claim - and a bus network that tries to link people in between its rail routes. Sadly, MARTA's a shell of what it could be and, should the state not step up and invest or give metro residents control of the system, will further atrophy. That's a shame. Were it not for MARTA, according to recent statistics, an estimated 185,000 additional cars would clog the region's roads. More than 60 percent of the city's hospitality employees, its largest industry, wouldn't make it to work. Nearly 50 percent of its straphangers have no other way to move around their world. Looking forward, which is something the state neglected to do when it thumbed its nose at what's considered one of the country's most efficient transit systems, we should be thankful for the foundation it's provided. Better yet, MARTA's helped Atlanta lay the groundwork to become more dense and the kind of walkable city that everyone - young and old - wants to call home. Not to mention provide us another way to move around when the next gas spike happens. It's a damn fine service, and the local leaders who fought hard to bring MARTA to life deserve a round of thanks. www.itsmarta.com. less...

Best show of radical dedication

Occupy Atlanta
It's been a year since rabble-rousers across the country settled in parks and vacant lots to protest greedy banks, income inequality, and other social ills in what became the Occupy movement. And while some cities' groups ultimately fizzled - or, as in Oakland's case, mushroomed - after being bootedmore...
It's been a year since rabble-rousers across the country settled in parks and vacant lots to protest greedy banks, income inequality, and other social ills in what became the Occupy movement. And while some cities' groups ultimately fizzled - or, as in Oakland's case, mushroomed - after being booted from their encampments, Occupy Atlanta sunk its teeth into Georgia's unfair foreclosure laws and ran with the issue. They shouted down courthouse foreclosure auctions and set up tents in front yards outside the homes of families being threatened with eviction, all the while risking arrest. In some cases, they actually helped people avoid being put out on the street. That's not to say the members of the leaderless group were always right, or that the think tanks and legal groups fighting the issues aren't doing just as commendable a job. But the leaderless group added a dose of radicalism to the foreclosure issue. And last time we checked, they were still fighting. less...

Best Tumblr

Atlanta History Center
Corporate and nonprofit forays into social media are often awkward and clumsy - really, why does a fertilizer need a Twitter account? But the Atlanta History Center has figured it out. There's the world's busiest airport when it was basically just a tower and strip of asphalt. And there's Peachtreemore...
Corporate and nonprofit forays into social media are often awkward and clumsy - really, why does a fertilizer need a Twitter account? But the Atlanta History Center has figured it out. There's the world's busiest airport when it was basically just a tower and strip of asphalt. And there's Peachtree Street packed with men in fedoras and celebrating Japan's surrender in World War II. Oh, and here's an as-it-happened, liveblog reenacting the 1917 fire that consumed nearly 300 acres between the Old Fourth Ward and Midtown. By digging into its vaults and sharing historic photographs, audio files, relics, and other do-dads on Tumblr (and often with humor), the Buckhead-based center deftly manages to do what so many museums can't - become more than a building filled with exhibits. Not to mention tempting a younger generation to make the trek north on Peachtree and pay a visit. less...

Best TV anchor send-off

Monica Pearson
For nearly 40 years, Monica Pearson (formerly Kaufman) of WSB-TV has been considered the evening news anchor in Atlanta. There were others, yes, but none matched the Kentucky native's celebrity. After decades of reporting on such stories as the Atlanta child murders and the 1996 Olympics, the winnermore...
For nearly 40 years, Monica Pearson (formerly Kaufman) of WSB-TV has been considered the evening news anchor in Atlanta. There were others, yes, but none matched the Kentucky native's celebrity. After decades of reporting on such stories as the Atlanta child murders and the 1996 Olympics, the winner of multiple Emmy Awards and wearer of 1 million hairstyles called it a career. And Jesus, did WSB-TV celebrate. An in-studio meet-and-greet! A congressional commendation and City Hall reception and proclamation! A farewell ball! Radio interviews! And then ... tours of Monica's closets! Clips of Monica trying on boots! Shots of Monica hanging out by a lake at the home she shares with her husband. The heady hero worship was, for some reason, oddly mesmerizing once you got sucked in. less...

Best way to pimp out your nonprofit's office

Lifecycle Building Center
Days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swung a wrecking ball into old buildings that were probably health hazards themselves, volunteers visited the decommissioned labs and offices and started unscrewing furniture. Instead of a landfill, the desks, filing cabinets, and shelves, allmore...
Days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swung a wrecking ball into old buildings that were probably health hazards themselves, volunteers visited the decommissioned labs and offices and started unscrewing furniture. Instead of a landfill, the desks, filing cabinets, and shelves, all in usable condition, traveled to southwest Atlanta to the Lifecycle Building Center. The all-volunteer nonprofit is housed in a nearly 100-year-old mammoth warehouse where the salvaged items are resold at low cost to homeowners, artists, and businesses, or sometimes given free to qualified charities and churches. The project, a partnership with several intown design firms, building companies, and greenies, aims to tap a potential gold mine and source of unnecessary waste. According to the center's figures, Georgians tossed out an estimated 2.9 million tons of wood, gypsum wallboard, metal, and other building materials. By interrupting the process before demolition, they're able to reuse the items, thereby reducing the amount of waste that goes into dumps. Their efforts also offset the need to cut down more trees to build another bookshelf. less...

Best act of political theater

Female Democrats wrapped themselves in yellow caution tape Georgia State Capitol
Democratic women had heard and seen enough. After sitting through days and days of discussions under the Gold Dome about making abortions more difficult and restricting access to contraceptives, part of the out-of-nowhere, unnecessary "War on Women", they decided to take a stand - literally. On themore...
Democratic women had heard and seen enough. After sitting through days and days of discussions under the Gold Dome about making abortions more difficult and restricting access to contraceptives, part of the out-of-nowhere, unnecessary "War on Women", they decided to take a stand - literally. On the final day of the 40-day legislative session, after the state Senate voted to approve a bill that tightened restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, female Democrats wrapped themselves in yellow caution tape and marched out of the upper chamber and into the Capitol's hallways, shouting "Women will remember in November." The bill passed, but the women of the minority party were able to remind GOP lawmakers that they're the ones affected by such pieces of legislation. less...

Best affordable housing news

Imperial Hotel
Atlanta Beltline Inc. purchased and converted a Reynoldstown loft into affordable housing. And a developer plans to renovate a Section 8 tower located at Ponce de Leon and Highland avenues. But none compare to the Imperial Hotel. Since 1997, the majestic eight-story building located along Peachtree Streetmore...
Atlanta Beltline Inc. purchased and converted a Reynoldstown loft into affordable housing. And a developer plans to renovate a Section 8 tower located at Ponce de Leon and Highland avenues. But none compare to the Imperial Hotel. Since 1997, the majestic eight-story building located along Peachtree Street in the heart of downtown Atlanta has provided an affordable place for low-income Atlantans and formerly homeless men and women to live. But in 2010, the historic building - Little Richard reportedly performed in the hotel's lounge - went into receivership and appeared to be in jeopardy. Rather than be converted into pricey condos by developers eager to charge a premium for the picturesque views, two affordable housing developers, working with the city and state, moved in to renovate the building and keep it affordable. Columbia Residential and National Church Residences plan to spend the next year - and millions of dollars - renovating the building's interior and exterior. Once complete, the overhauled building will feature larger units, space for care providers, and, if they wish to return, affordable homes for residents who were relocated during renovations. Thank God the building, which is located near transit and medical facilities, didn't turn into yet another expensive condo tower. less...

Best effort to boost a community

Year of Boulevard
For decades, the four-lane stretch of Boulevard between Ponce de Leon Avenue and Freedom Parkway has been synonymous with poverty and crime. Home to the highest concentration of Section 8 housing in the Southeast, the single-name street and its residents have missed out on the prosperity that's poppedmore...
For decades, the four-lane stretch of Boulevard between Ponce de Leon Avenue and Freedom Parkway has been synonymous with poverty and crime. Home to the highest concentration of Section 8 housing in the Southeast, the single-name street and its residents have missed out on the prosperity that's popped up in neighboring communities. Rather than holding a ho-hum trash pick-up and letting the problems fester, this past January, Councilman Kwanza Hall and community members proclaimed 2012 the "Year of Boulevard." With the help of the city, neighbors, and local businesses, Boulevard welcomed a new police precinct and community events featuring health and social services, plus internships for young residents. TedX Atlanta, a forum for "ideas worth spreading," donated $50,000 to send area kids to summer camps. Think of it, as CL columnist Scott Henry did, as "urban renewal without the bulldozers" - with the community as a catalyst. The year's not over and fingers remain crossed that the owners of Bedford-Pines, one of the Section 8 complexes, might consider redeveloping the property. less...

Best job exposing Major League Baseball's lack of sense of humor

"Barves."
Earlier this year, Ormewood Park resident Everett Steele noticed people on Twitter misspelling one of the country's most well-known baseball teams. Instead of the Atlanta Braves, people were writing "Barves." So the social media marketer, along with his wife and business partner Allison, started makingmore...
Earlier this year, Ormewood Park resident Everett Steele noticed people on Twitter misspelling one of the country's most well-known baseball teams. Instead of the Atlanta Braves, people were writing "Barves." So the social media marketer, along with his wife and business partner Allison, started making jokes on Twitter using the typo, which soon caught on with other users. The duo then decided to print "Barves" T-shirts using the team's familiar, cursive logo, which they'd sell online. Proceeds would be donated to the Braves' foundation that supports metro Atlanta nonprofits. Lawyers for Major League Baseball, which retains teams' trademarks, weren't pleased and quickly dashed off a cease-and-desist letter informing the Steeles to discontinue. Not wanting the costly legal fight, Steele buried the Barves. "Instead of... capitalizing on the opportunity to sort of catalyze their fan base, they've instead attacked the people who are passionate and love their brand," he told WXIA's Doug Richards in May. Might we mention they looked petty? less...

Best recap by a local blogger of a 1990s educational series

Pecanne Log
Count yourself blessed if you're able to get your hands on a copy of "The Making of Modern Atlanta," a 1990s public TV mini-series that investigated, in amusing fashion, how the metropolis we know and love came to be a transit-deprived, road-ravaged, ball of ignorance, hubris, and procrastination. Hostedmore...
Count yourself blessed if you're able to get your hands on a copy of "The Making of Modern Atlanta," a 1990s public TV mini-series that investigated, in amusing fashion, how the metropolis we know and love came to be a transit-deprived, road-ravaged, ball of ignorance, hubris, and procrastination. Hosted by Tim Crimmins of Georgia State University and Dana White of Emory University, the program is like "Glee" for urban policy wonks - lots of talk about the Lochner Report and sewer infrastructure. And who better to introduce us to this gem than Pecanne Log. Over the course of several blog posts, the local ladyblogger (who's now expanded her online empire to Twitter and Tumblr) took us on a spellbinding, screenshot-laden recap of the delightfully informative series, episode by episode, and shows a sweet reverence for Crimmins and White, who call themselves "the History Twins" (even though White, who recently retired from Emory, is bald, while Crimmins sports a shock of blonde hair). less...

Best street character

Larkin Taylor-Parker
Every street character has something that sets him or her apart from the motley crew of men and women who walk Atlanta's streets. Baton Bob has his parade marshal outfits. Bicycle Shorts Man has his...well, you know. And Larkin Taylor-Parker has Sally and Aria, her tubas. Three or four days a week, themore...
Every street character has something that sets him or her apart from the motley crew of men and women who walk Atlanta's streets. Baton Bob has his parade marshal outfits. Bicycle Shorts Man has his...well, you know. And Larkin Taylor-Parker has Sally and Aria, her tubas. Three or four days a week, the top hat-and-tuxedo-wearing 20-year-old Chicago native can be found belting out anything from Celtic music, protest songs, spirituals, big band tunes, and everything else in Candler Park and Little Five Points. When not playing the instrument, Parker spends some of her time advocating for and writing online about people living with autism (she lives with the disorder and is also dyslexic). Post graduation at Agnes Scott College, where she's studying history, Larkin plans to become a lawyer and help children with disabilities navigate the educational system. To Parker, who does indeed rock, we salute you. less...

Best leisurely stroll

Olmsted Linear Park
If you're looking to escape cell phone reception, there are plenty of options. But consider a soothing walk along a street you normally experience at 55 mph. Near Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon Avenue, a path begins in the Olmsted Linear Park and winds its way nearly two miles through gently rollingmore...
If you're looking to escape cell phone reception, there are plenty of options. But consider a soothing walk along a street you normally experience at 55 mph. Near Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon Avenue, a path begins in the Olmsted Linear Park and winds its way nearly two miles through gently rolling meadows and under trees toward Decatur. It's nothing fancy - just a basic concrete trailway that's been around for years - but it helps better connect people to one of Atlanta's often-overlooked greenspace gems. Snaking through the middle of the award-winning park planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind Central Park, the path provides safe refuge for walkers wanting to enjoy the knolls and avoid the hectic traffic along the busy street that leads into DeKalb County (clearly visible by the difference in grass lengths on both sides of the border). The stroll ends with a descent into Deepdene Park, the recently restored deep forest that has already earned a spot among the best parks in the metro region. Bonus: It includes what a nearby sign labels as the tallest tree in metro Atlanta. less...

Best muckrakers

Dale Russell of Fox 5 and Richard Belcher of WSB-TV
We like to give TV news reporters a hard time. But in the barrage of apartment fires, murders, and "tough questions" (ugh) are two seasoned pros who, week after week, still help set the agenda in metro Atlanta: Dale Russell of Fox 5 and Richard Belcher of WSB-TV. The two journos, who can often be seenmore...
We like to give TV news reporters a hard time. But in the barrage of apartment fires, murders, and "tough questions" (ugh) are two seasoned pros who, week after week, still help set the agenda in metro Atlanta: Dale Russell of Fox 5 and Richard Belcher of WSB-TV. The two journos, who can often be seen chasing down the same story, have sent ripples through local and state government - need we revisit Russell's sit-down with former House Speaker Glenn Richardson's ex-wife, which spurred the once-powerful Republican's resignation. This year both were on top of concessions contracts at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the year's most complex and politically touchy stories. Belcher and Russell connected the dots and dug deep into campaign disclosures and corporate forms to shed light on the billion-dollar fortunes there were to be made selling neck pillows and fried chicken at the world's busiest airport. They didn't let up, went toe-to-toe with Mayor Kasim Reed, and helped convince us to turn on the idiot box. less...

Best neighborhood builders

Residents of southwest Atlanta
Housing experts say now, when the belly of the housing market is dragging across the floor, is the best to buy homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods. But they never tell you how taxing and difficult it is dealing with historic guidelines, the occasional break-in, and code enforcement officials. And that'smore...
Housing experts say now, when the belly of the housing market is dragging across the floor, is the best to buy homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods. But they never tell you how taxing and difficult it is dealing with historic guidelines, the occasional break-in, and code enforcement officials. And that's if you can even convince a bank to finance your foray into uncharted territory. The residents of southwest Atlanta, however, particularly in the neighborhoods including Adair Park and Westview, deserve props. Young families and singles are moving into foreclosed and once-vacant homes alongside longtime residents and rebuilding historic, intown communities. less...

Best odd couple

The Sierra Club's Georgia Director Colleen Kiernan and Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party
No one was surprised when Tea Partiers opposed the regional transportation tax. More than a few people were taken aback when the Sierra Club's Georgia chapter did the same, arguing the T-SPLOST would fuel sprawl and not build enough transit. But very few people expected the two disparate groups to joinmore...
No one was surprised when Tea Partiers opposed the regional transportation tax. More than a few people were taken aback when the Sierra Club's Georgia chapter did the same, arguing the T-SPLOST would fuel sprawl and not build enough transit. But very few people expected the two disparate groups to join forces and work together to block the measure. The Sierra Club's Georgia Director Colleen Kiernan and Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party shared strategy, stood side by side at press conferences, and, with very little money compared to the business community's multimillion-dollar campaign, outlined one of the more well-reasoned criticisms of the tax - one which even supporters had to acknowledge was, despite a few flaws, pretty solid. An upside, regardless of how you felt about the T-SPLOST: the two have promised to work together on the transportation funding issue when the General Assembly convenes in January - not to mention eliminating MARTA's funding restrictions, something the Tea Party has signaled it would support. less...

Best bizarro news story

A drunken day gone wrong at the Piedmont Driving Club's East Point golf course
In a year that included stories about a man allegedly beating his girlfriend with her dead dog, Bishop Eddie Long being crowned a king by a visiting rabbi, and a brave woman fighting a flesh-eating bacteria, it was the ribald tales of a drunken day gone wrong at the Piedmont Driving Club's East Pointmore...
In a year that included stories about a man allegedly beating his girlfriend with her dead dog, Bishop Eddie Long being crowned a king by a visiting rabbi, and a brave woman fighting a flesh-eating bacteria, it was the ribald tales of a drunken day gone wrong at the Piedmont Driving Club's East Point golf course that blew our minds the most. Naked golf. Drunk men slapping passed-out buddies in the face with their penises. Picking up golf balls from pristine, members-only greens with one's butt cheeks. And that's just a sampling. These Caddyshack-type exploits weren't allegedly committed by frat boys freeloading on dad's membership account, but by grown men. The story, which went viral thanks to a leaked, tell-all letter by a shocked - shocked! - member of the historic private club for Atlanta's elite, had it all: intoxicated debauchery, rich people behaving badly, and the closed-lip, we'll-take-care-of-this treatment of the entire affair by the club. less...

Best conservative columnist

Charlie Harper
A healthy media diet should consist of hearty servings of views with which you disagree. And sometimes you'll be surprised to find yourself saying the person has a point. That's the way we feel about Charlie Harper of Peach Pundit and Dublin's Courier-Herald fame. The Fayette County native and currentmore...
A healthy media diet should consist of hearty servings of views with which you disagree. And sometimes you'll be surprised to find yourself saying the person has a point. That's the way we feel about Charlie Harper of Peach Pundit and Dublin's Courier-Herald fame. The Fayette County native and current Cobb County resident first caught political observers' eyes as Icarus, the nom de plume he used on Peach Pundit, the mostly conservative blog covering Georgia politics. The witty gent proved himself to be a wordsmith who didn't fall into the same traps filled with both conservative and liberal pundits who simply parroted talking points and shouted ideology. He soon dropped the anonymity, took over the reins of Peach Pundit, and picked up a daily political column in Dublin's Courier-Herald, which also runs on the blog. Since then he's called for ethics reform, decried plans to publicly finance a new Atlanta Falcons stadium, and - in a refreshing change for a conservative columnist - urged increased MARTA funding from state lawmakers. We don't always agree. In fact, we rarely do. But Harper's voice adds some intellect and common-sense conservatism to the debate. Both are sorely needed. less...

Best reaction to vandalism

Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium
Early in the morning on June 9, a band of ne'er-do-wells broke into Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium and proceeded to trash the Old Fourth Ward bar. Front windows were smashed, liquor bottles were broken. Adding insult to injury: the beer taps were left to run so the kegsmore...
Early in the morning on June 9, a band of ne'er-do-wells broke into Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium and proceeded to trash the Old Fourth Ward bar. Front windows were smashed, liquor bottles were broken. Adding insult to injury: the beer taps were left to run so the kegs poured dry. (Oddly enough, bar owner Grant Henry's artwork on the walls - and the cash in the register - were left untouched.) Friends and neighbors of the Edgewood Avenue bar sprang into action and helped sweep up the glass, mop up the mess, and replace the broken windows. That evening, Henry threw open the doors to loyal fans angered over the vandalism and eager to feast on Ruffles and French onion dip, guzzle stiff drinks, and play table tennis in the quirky bar's second floor. "If it wasn't the top Saturday night we've ever had," Henry told CL the following Monday, "it was the second top night." less...

Best sign Atlanta's intown revival still has a pulse

A crane or two
Scan the Midtown skyline and you'll see a crane or two. And if developers actually follow through on what they've pitched to neighborhood groups and journalists, they'll start popping up along Juniper Street. And on Ponce de Leon Avenue. And then who knows where else. These towering beasts, which formore...
Scan the Midtown skyline and you'll see a crane or two. And if developers actually follow through on what they've pitched to neighborhood groups and journalists, they'll start popping up along Juniper Street. And on Ponce de Leon Avenue. And then who knows where else. These towering beasts, which for the last four years have been a rare sight in a metro region that for decades was about nothing but construction, have slowly been flowing back to Atlanta, into the dense urban core, where they should have been years ago. Unlike developers' previous fascination with condos, this go-round they're erecting apartments, where young people and empty nesters can snag a home high above Atlanta, overlooking a city that, one hopes, keeps growing steadily. If there wasn't a feeling that's the case, we wouldn't be seeing them. less...

Best street party

Atlanta Streets Alive

Best campaign paraphernalia

Congressman John Lewis
Candidates will usually roll out an oversized font and a simple message for election signs and materials. And if mug shots are ever involved, it's usually your opponents using your own against you. Not so with Congressman John Lewis. The Atlanta Democrat's re-election campaign this year sold T-shirtsmore...
Candidates will usually roll out an oversized font and a simple message for election signs and materials. And if mug shots are ever involved, it's usually your opponents using your own against you. Not so with Congressman John Lewis. The Atlanta Democrat's re-election campaign this year sold T-shirts and posters featuring the Civil Rights movement icon's decades-old police photograph above the tagline "Getting into good trouble since 1960." Lewis, who was part of the Freedom Rides to challenge Jim Crow travel laws, wears his rap sheet as a badge of honor. The 72-year-old has been arrested more than 40 times in the United States and in other countries while protesting for civil rights. We commend Lewis, who faces Republican trial attorney Howard Stopeck in November, on steering clear of staid family portraits and making the usually mundane primary election season more exciting. less...

Best new shiny pretty thing

Eastside Trail Piedmont Park
Atlanta Beltline officials will tell you the coolest shortcut between Piedmont Park and Inman Park isn't officially open yet, but even they know the Eastside Trail already has plenty of users (gaze on the winding path from Freedom Parkway and you'll see the occasional jogger or hipster bicyclist pedalingmore...
Atlanta Beltline officials will tell you the coolest shortcut between Piedmont Park and Inman Park isn't officially open yet, but even they know the Eastside Trail already has plenty of users (gaze on the winding path from Freedom Parkway and you'll see the occasional jogger or hipster bicyclist pedaling toward DeKalb Avenue). The $12 million project - which has been delayed from opening by more than a year thanks to construction issues - isn't just a pretty bike trail. The path, which abuts Ponce City Market and Historic Fourth Ward Park, has helped attract more than six new dense developments with several thousand new housing units and create a buzz around the area between Ponce de Leon Avenue and Freedom Parkway - a vibrant pocket which could become the example of what the Beltline could look and feel like in the decades to come. Not to mention help further boost an already progressive, vibrant neighborhood. (Mark our words: Good luck finding room on the trail when the path opens.) The park's cool and Ponce City Market has promise. But the trail stitches everything, including the neighborhoods along the route, together. less...

Best jogging path

Freedom Park Trail Freedom Park

Best skate park

Historic Old Fourth Ward Park Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark

Best street

Peachtree Street

Best bizarro local news story

Aimee Copeland Story

Best city view

Corner of Boulevard and Freedom Parkway

Best intown park

Piedmont Park

Best playground

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Best radio station

Project 96.1 (WKLS-FM)

Best talk radio station

WSB (95.5-FM) and (750-AM)

Best volunteer program

Everybody Wins!

Best charity

Atlanta Community Food Bank Atlanta Community Food Bank

Best local place to commune with nature

TIE: Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park

Best party school

Georgia State University Georgia State University

Best rock radio station

Project 96.1 (WKLS-FM)

Best street character

Baton Bob
batonbob.weebly.com

Best child care center

Primrose School
And other Metro Atlanta locations.

Best local blogger

Cameron Adams
atlantastreetfashion.blogspot.com

Best local TV anchor

Monica Pearson

Best middle school

Inman Middle School

Best person you hate to love

NeNe Leakes
twitter.com/NeNeLeakes

Best place to people-watch

Little Five Points
little5points.wordpress.com

Best urban radio station

V-103 (WVEE-FM)
v103.cbslocal.com
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Best gateway to somewhere better

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Driving up the roadway lined with flags and corporate overlord Delta Air Lines, you oddly feel like you're not in Atlanta, but in a parallel dimension. You notice the sleek building - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal - on your left. Consideredmore...
Driving up the roadway lined with flags and corporate overlord Delta Air Lines, you oddly feel like you're not in Atlanta, but in a parallel dimension. You notice the sleek building - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal - on your left. Considered Atlanta's new front door to the world, the 1.2-million-square-foot concourse - which is decked out with airy atriums and chock-full of public art - is a vast improvement over the former terminal. What will most delight frequent international travelers: arrivals no longer have to recheck their bags, and go back through security, to exit the damn airport, as they did for years at the main concourse. Yes, there were news reports about alleged favoritism over concessions programs. There was debate over whether it was really needed. There's no direct connection to MARTA rail, a major fault. And some tourists have complained about sore feet from all the walking. But the new terminal remains a wonderful addition to the bizarrely beautiful, romantic, and impressive busiest airport in the world. less...

Best jogging path

Freedom Park Trail Freedom Park

Best political move

Building Marta
Yeah, yeah, we can hear the complaints. It doesn't go anywhere. It's dirty. It doesn't work. But before you bemoan life with MARTA, first imagine life without it. In the late 1960s, metro Atlanta snagged federal funding left on the table by Seattle voters after they decided not to create a transit system.more...
Yeah, yeah, we can hear the complaints. It doesn't go anywhere. It's dirty. It doesn't work. But before you bemoan life with MARTA, first imagine life without it. In the late 1960s, metro Atlanta snagged federal funding left on the table by Seattle voters after they decided not to create a transit system. Racism and myopia caused the suburbs to say "No thanks" to the regional transit agency. And state lawmakers never showed much interest - but plenty of hostility. More than 40 years later, we have a system that connects the heart of the city to the world's busiest airport - a luxury that not all aviation hubs can claim - and a bus network that tries to link people in between its rail routes. Sadly, MARTA's a shell of what it could be and, should the state not step up and invest or give metro residents control of the system, will further atrophy. That's a shame. Were it not for MARTA, according to recent statistics, an estimated 185,000 additional cars would clog the region's roads. More than 60 percent of the city's hospitality employees, its largest industry, wouldn't make it to work. Nearly 50 percent of its straphangers have no other way to move around their world. Looking forward, which is something the state neglected to do when it thumbed its nose at what's considered one of the country's most efficient transit systems, we should be thankful for the foundation it's provided. Better yet, MARTA's helped Atlanta lay the groundwork to become more dense and the kind of walkable city that everyone - young and old - wants to call home. Not to mention provide us another way to move around when the next gas spike happens. It's a damn fine service, and the local leaders who fought hard to bring MARTA to life deserve a round of thanks. www.itsmarta.com. less...

Best show of radical dedication

Occupy Atlanta
It's been a year since rabble-rousers across the country settled in parks and vacant lots to protest greedy banks, income inequality, and other social ills in what became the Occupy movement. And while some cities' groups ultimately fizzled - or, as in Oakland's case, mushroomed - after being bootedmore...
It's been a year since rabble-rousers across the country settled in parks and vacant lots to protest greedy banks, income inequality, and other social ills in what became the Occupy movement. And while some cities' groups ultimately fizzled - or, as in Oakland's case, mushroomed - after being booted from their encampments, Occupy Atlanta sunk its teeth into Georgia's unfair foreclosure laws and ran with the issue. They shouted down courthouse foreclosure auctions and set up tents in front yards outside the homes of families being threatened with eviction, all the while risking arrest. In some cases, they actually helped people avoid being put out on the street. That's not to say the members of the leaderless group were always right, or that the think tanks and legal groups fighting the issues aren't doing just as commendable a job. But the leaderless group added a dose of radicalism to the foreclosure issue. And last time we checked, they were still fighting. less...

Best skate park

Historic Old Fourth Ward Park Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark

Best street

Peachtree Street

Best Tumblr

Atlanta History Center
Corporate and nonprofit forays into social media are often awkward and clumsy - really, why does a fertilizer need a Twitter account? But the Atlanta History Center has figured it out. There's the world's busiest airport when it was basically just a tower and strip of asphalt. And there's Peachtreemore...
Corporate and nonprofit forays into social media are often awkward and clumsy - really, why does a fertilizer need a Twitter account? But the Atlanta History Center has figured it out. There's the world's busiest airport when it was basically just a tower and strip of asphalt. And there's Peachtree Street packed with men in fedoras and celebrating Japan's surrender in World War II. Oh, and here's an as-it-happened, liveblog reenacting the 1917 fire that consumed nearly 300 acres between the Old Fourth Ward and Midtown. By digging into its vaults and sharing historic photographs, audio files, relics, and other do-dads on Tumblr (and often with humor), the Buckhead-based center deftly manages to do what so many museums can't - become more than a building filled with exhibits. Not to mention tempting a younger generation to make the trek north on Peachtree and pay a visit. less...

Best TV anchor send-off

Monica Pearson
For nearly 40 years, Monica Pearson (formerly Kaufman) of WSB-TV has been considered the evening news anchor in Atlanta. There were others, yes, but none matched the Kentucky native's celebrity. After decades of reporting on such stories as the Atlanta child murders and the 1996 Olympics, the winnermore...
For nearly 40 years, Monica Pearson (formerly Kaufman) of WSB-TV has been considered the evening news anchor in Atlanta. There were others, yes, but none matched the Kentucky native's celebrity. After decades of reporting on such stories as the Atlanta child murders and the 1996 Olympics, the winner of multiple Emmy Awards and wearer of 1 million hairstyles called it a career. And Jesus, did WSB-TV celebrate. An in-studio meet-and-greet! A congressional commendation and City Hall reception and proclamation! A farewell ball! Radio interviews! And then ... tours of Monica's closets! Clips of Monica trying on boots! Shots of Monica hanging out by a lake at the home she shares with her husband. The heady hero worship was, for some reason, oddly mesmerizing once you got sucked in. less...

Best way to pimp out your nonprofit's office

Lifecycle Building Center
Days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swung a wrecking ball into old buildings that were probably health hazards themselves, volunteers visited the decommissioned labs and offices and started unscrewing furniture. Instead of a landfill, the desks, filing cabinets, and shelves, allmore...
Days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swung a wrecking ball into old buildings that were probably health hazards themselves, volunteers visited the decommissioned labs and offices and started unscrewing furniture. Instead of a landfill, the desks, filing cabinets, and shelves, all in usable condition, traveled to southwest Atlanta to the Lifecycle Building Center. The all-volunteer nonprofit is housed in a nearly 100-year-old mammoth warehouse where the salvaged items are resold at low cost to homeowners, artists, and businesses, or sometimes given free to qualified charities and churches. The project, a partnership with several intown design firms, building companies, and greenies, aims to tap a potential gold mine and source of unnecessary waste. According to the center's figures, Georgians tossed out an estimated 2.9 million tons of wood, gypsum wallboard, metal, and other building materials. By interrupting the process before demolition, they're able to reuse the items, thereby reducing the amount of waste that goes into dumps. Their efforts also offset the need to cut down more trees to build another bookshelf. less...

Best act of political theater

Female Democrats wrapped themselves in yellow caution tape Georgia State Capitol
Democratic women had heard and seen enough. After sitting through days and days of discussions under the Gold Dome about making abortions more difficult and restricting access to contraceptives, part of the out-of-nowhere, unnecessary "War on Women", they decided to take a stand - literally. On themore...
Democratic women had heard and seen enough. After sitting through days and days of discussions under the Gold Dome about making abortions more difficult and restricting access to contraceptives, part of the out-of-nowhere, unnecessary "War on Women", they decided to take a stand - literally. On the final day of the 40-day legislative session, after the state Senate voted to approve a bill that tightened restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, female Democrats wrapped themselves in yellow caution tape and marched out of the upper chamber and into the Capitol's hallways, shouting "Women will remember in November." The bill passed, but the women of the minority party were able to remind GOP lawmakers that they're the ones affected by such pieces of legislation. less...

Best affordable housing news

Imperial Hotel
Atlanta Beltline Inc. purchased and converted a Reynoldstown loft into affordable housing. And a developer plans to renovate a Section 8 tower located at Ponce de Leon and Highland avenues. But none compare to the Imperial Hotel. Since 1997, the majestic eight-story building located along Peachtree Streetmore...
Atlanta Beltline Inc. purchased and converted a Reynoldstown loft into affordable housing. And a developer plans to renovate a Section 8 tower located at Ponce de Leon and Highland avenues. But none compare to the Imperial Hotel. Since 1997, the majestic eight-story building located along Peachtree Street in the heart of downtown Atlanta has provided an affordable place for low-income Atlantans and formerly homeless men and women to live. But in 2010, the historic building - Little Richard reportedly performed in the hotel's lounge - went into receivership and appeared to be in jeopardy. Rather than be converted into pricey condos by developers eager to charge a premium for the picturesque views, two affordable housing developers, working with the city and state, moved in to renovate the building and keep it affordable. Columbia Residential and National Church Residences plan to spend the next year - and millions of dollars - renovating the building's interior and exterior. Once complete, the overhauled building will feature larger units, space for care providers, and, if they wish to return, affordable homes for residents who were relocated during renovations. Thank God the building, which is located near transit and medical facilities, didn't turn into yet another expensive condo tower. less...

Best bizarro local news story

Aimee Copeland Story

Best city view

Corner of Boulevard and Freedom Parkway

Best effort to boost a community

Year of Boulevard
For decades, the four-lane stretch of Boulevard between Ponce de Leon Avenue and Freedom Parkway has been synonymous with poverty and crime. Home to the highest concentration of Section 8 housing in the Southeast, the single-name street and its residents have missed out on the prosperity that's poppedmore...
For decades, the four-lane stretch of Boulevard between Ponce de Leon Avenue and Freedom Parkway has been synonymous with poverty and crime. Home to the highest concentration of Section 8 housing in the Southeast, the single-name street and its residents have missed out on the prosperity that's popped up in neighboring communities. Rather than holding a ho-hum trash pick-up and letting the problems fester, this past January, Councilman Kwanza Hall and community members proclaimed 2012 the "Year of Boulevard." With the help of the city, neighbors, and local businesses, Boulevard welcomed a new police precinct and community events featuring health and social services, plus internships for young residents. TedX Atlanta, a forum for "ideas worth spreading," donated $50,000 to send area kids to summer camps. Think of it, as CL columnist Scott Henry did, as "urban renewal without the bulldozers" - with the community as a catalyst. The year's not over and fingers remain crossed that the owners of Bedford-Pines, one of the Section 8 complexes, might consider redeveloping the property. less...

Best intown park

Piedmont Park

Best job exposing Major League Baseball's lack of sense of humor

"Barves."
Earlier this year, Ormewood Park resident Everett Steele noticed people on Twitter misspelling one of the country's most well-known baseball teams. Instead of the Atlanta Braves, people were writing "Barves." So the social media marketer, along with his wife and business partner Allison, started makingmore...
Earlier this year, Ormewood Park resident Everett Steele noticed people on Twitter misspelling one of the country's most well-known baseball teams. Instead of the Atlanta Braves, people were writing "Barves." So the social media marketer, along with his wife and business partner Allison, started making jokes on Twitter using the typo, which soon caught on with other users. The duo then decided to print "Barves" T-shirts using the team's familiar, cursive logo, which they'd sell online. Proceeds would be donated to the Braves' foundation that supports metro Atlanta nonprofits. Lawyers for Major League Baseball, which retains teams' trademarks, weren't pleased and quickly dashed off a cease-and-desist letter informing the Steeles to discontinue. Not wanting the costly legal fight, Steele buried the Barves. "Instead of... capitalizing on the opportunity to sort of catalyze their fan base, they've instead attacked the people who are passionate and love their brand," he told WXIA's Doug Richards in May. Might we mention they looked petty? less...

Best playground

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Best radio station

Project 96.1 (WKLS-FM)

Best recap by a local blogger of a 1990s educational series

Pecanne Log
Count yourself blessed if you're able to get your hands on a copy of "The Making of Modern Atlanta," a 1990s public TV mini-series that investigated, in amusing fashion, how the metropolis we know and love came to be a transit-deprived, road-ravaged, ball of ignorance, hubris, and procrastination. Hostedmore...
Count yourself blessed if you're able to get your hands on a copy of "The Making of Modern Atlanta," a 1990s public TV mini-series that investigated, in amusing fashion, how the metropolis we know and love came to be a transit-deprived, road-ravaged, ball of ignorance, hubris, and procrastination. Hosted by Tim Crimmins of Georgia State University and Dana White of Emory University, the program is like "Glee" for urban policy wonks - lots of talk about the Lochner Report and sewer infrastructure. And who better to introduce us to this gem than Pecanne Log. Over the course of several blog posts, the local ladyblogger (who's now expanded her online empire to Twitter and Tumblr) took us on a spellbinding, screenshot-laden recap of the delightfully informative series, episode by episode, and shows a sweet reverence for Crimmins and White, who call themselves "the History Twins" (even though White, who recently retired from Emory, is bald, while Crimmins sports a shock of blonde hair). less...

Best street character

Larkin Taylor-Parker
Every street character has something that sets him or her apart from the motley crew of men and women who walk Atlanta's streets. Baton Bob has his parade marshal outfits. Bicycle Shorts Man has his...well, you know. And Larkin Taylor-Parker has Sally and Aria, her tubas. Three or four days a week, themore...
Every street character has something that sets him or her apart from the motley crew of men and women who walk Atlanta's streets. Baton Bob has his parade marshal outfits. Bicycle Shorts Man has his...well, you know. And Larkin Taylor-Parker has Sally and Aria, her tubas. Three or four days a week, the top hat-and-tuxedo-wearing 20-year-old Chicago native can be found belting out anything from Celtic music, protest songs, spirituals, big band tunes, and everything else in Candler Park and Little Five Points. When not playing the instrument, Parker spends some of her time advocating for and writing online about people living with autism (she lives with the disorder and is also dyslexic). Post graduation at Agnes Scott College, where she's studying history, Larkin plans to become a lawyer and help children with disabilities navigate the educational system. To Parker, who does indeed rock, we salute you. less...

Best talk radio station

WSB (95.5-FM) and (750-AM)

Best volunteer program

Everybody Wins!

Best charity

Atlanta Community Food Bank Atlanta Community Food Bank

Best leisurely stroll

Olmsted Linear Park
If you're looking to escape cell phone reception, there are plenty of options. But consider a soothing walk along a street you normally experience at 55 mph. Near Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon Avenue, a path begins in the Olmsted Linear Park and winds its way nearly two miles through gently rollingmore...
If you're looking to escape cell phone reception, there are plenty of options. But consider a soothing walk along a street you normally experience at 55 mph. Near Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon Avenue, a path begins in the Olmsted Linear Park and winds its way nearly two miles through gently rolling meadows and under trees toward Decatur. It's nothing fancy - just a basic concrete trailway that's been around for years - but it helps better connect people to one of Atlanta's often-overlooked greenspace gems. Snaking through the middle of the award-winning park planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind Central Park, the path provides safe refuge for walkers wanting to enjoy the knolls and avoid the hectic traffic along the busy street that leads into DeKalb County (clearly visible by the difference in grass lengths on both sides of the border). The stroll ends with a descent into Deepdene Park, the recently restored deep forest that has already earned a spot among the best parks in the metro region. Bonus: It includes what a nearby sign labels as the tallest tree in metro Atlanta. less...

Best local place to commune with nature

TIE: Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park

Best muckrakers

Dale Russell of Fox 5 and Richard Belcher of WSB-TV
We like to give TV news reporters a hard time. But in the barrage of apartment fires, murders, and "tough questions" (ugh) are two seasoned pros who, week after week, still help set the agenda in metro Atlanta: Dale Russell of Fox 5 and Richard Belcher of WSB-TV. The two journos, who can often be seenmore...
We like to give TV news reporters a hard time. But in the barrage of apartment fires, murders, and "tough questions" (ugh) are two seasoned pros who, week after week, still help set the agenda in metro Atlanta: Dale Russell of Fox 5 and Richard Belcher of WSB-TV. The two journos, who can often be seen chasing down the same story, have sent ripples through local and state government - need we revisit Russell's sit-down with former House Speaker Glenn Richardson's ex-wife, which spurred the once-powerful Republican's resignation. This year both were on top of concessions contracts at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the year's most complex and politically touchy stories. Belcher and Russell connected the dots and dug deep into campaign disclosures and corporate forms to shed light on the billion-dollar fortunes there were to be made selling neck pillows and fried chicken at the world's busiest airport. They didn't let up, went toe-to-toe with Mayor Kasim Reed, and helped convince us to turn on the idiot box. less...

Best neighborhood builders

Residents of southwest Atlanta
Housing experts say now, when the belly of the housing market is dragging across the floor, is the best to buy homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods. But they never tell you how taxing and difficult it is dealing with historic guidelines, the occasional break-in, and code enforcement officials. And that'smore...
Housing experts say now, when the belly of the housing market is dragging across the floor, is the best to buy homes in up-and-coming neighborhoods. But they never tell you how taxing and difficult it is dealing with historic guidelines, the occasional break-in, and code enforcement officials. And that's if you can even convince a bank to finance your foray into uncharted territory. The residents of southwest Atlanta, however, particularly in the neighborhoods including Adair Park and Westview, deserve props. Young families and singles are moving into foreclosed and once-vacant homes alongside longtime residents and rebuilding historic, intown communities. less...

Best odd couple

The Sierra Club's Georgia Director Colleen Kiernan and Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party
No one was surprised when Tea Partiers opposed the regional transportation tax. More than a few people were taken aback when the Sierra Club's Georgia chapter did the same, arguing the T-SPLOST would fuel sprawl and not build enough transit. But very few people expected the two disparate groups to joinmore...
No one was surprised when Tea Partiers opposed the regional transportation tax. More than a few people were taken aback when the Sierra Club's Georgia chapter did the same, arguing the T-SPLOST would fuel sprawl and not build enough transit. But very few people expected the two disparate groups to join forces and work together to block the measure. The Sierra Club's Georgia Director Colleen Kiernan and Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party shared strategy, stood side by side at press conferences, and, with very little money compared to the business community's multimillion-dollar campaign, outlined one of the more well-reasoned criticisms of the tax - one which even supporters had to acknowledge was, despite a few flaws, pretty solid. An upside, regardless of how you felt about the T-SPLOST: the two have promised to work together on the transportation funding issue when the General Assembly convenes in January - not to mention eliminating MARTA's funding restrictions, something the Tea Party has signaled it would support. less...

Best party school

Georgia State University Georgia State University
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