Pity the suburbanite and out-of-towner. Every morning, hundreds of thousands of people clog metro Atlanta interstates and land in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and make their way into our city. They’re here for business and pleasure. Sometimes they’re just lost. They’ll work in Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead skyscrapers, walk in Atlanta’s museums, and sometimes enjoy the city’s parks. And at the end of their workdays or trips, they leave.
Atlantans, however? We get to live here. We wake up and go to sleep in these communities. We not only shop in the stores, but also live next door to the people who own them. Intown traffic might be nuts, but at least we can hop on a bus or train and not wallow in gridlock. And when people knock our city, we defend her because we’ve put so much of ourselves into making it what it is and is becoming.
But making this wonderful city that we call home actually function takes a lot of work. Approximately 58,000 people keep the world’s busiest airport clean, safe, and welcoming to friends and family from far away. Employees at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights start waxing the floors at 7 a.m. in anticipation of tourists. The Piedmont Park Conservancy has a full-time staff that aerates lawns and picks up trash so the city’s most popular greenspace remains a jewel. Neighborhood associations slog through long meetings filled with discussions about zoning and sidewalks because, in the long run, those issues make the difference in an excellent community. (And some journalists spend long nights trying to cover the issues that affect neighborhoods.)
Atlantans work damn hard but they don’t always get the accolades and recognition. That’s why CL every year racks our brains to recognize the people, places, and things that make Atlanta the city we love. We know all about the city’s problems. Let’s take a moment and applaud those contributing to the bizarre, chaotic, and beautiful cityscape.
— Thomas Wheatley