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Best of Atlanta 2013 Cityscape

 

Best Of Atlanta 2013 Cityscape (large)


Cityscape

We live in a great city. Originally built in the middle of nowhere, it was burned to the ground, rebuilt into the epicenter of the Southeast, hit hard by the recent recession, and is now growing once again. Business leaders will say this is because of our massive airport or the many Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, which is partly true. But while it's easy to credit the big names, more often it's the efforts of the little guys that are truly making a difference in building a better city: The oddballs and mysterious characters who make superhero outfits and patrol neighborhood streets. The new parks and greenspaces that are forming around us thanks to committed residents. The communities we're all trying to improve because we can't imagine ever leaving them. And the elected officials fighting the good fight Downtown. (Yes, they exist.)

In the last year we've celebrated a stray cat along the Atlanta Beltline, taken over the streets in the name of a young teen who died hundreds of miles away, invested in a more bike-friendly city, and seen a baseball player who had seemingly given up hope go on to become a living legend. Too often we focus on the ills of our fair city. But there is much more good in Atlanta than there is bad and that deserves recognition.

— Thomas Wheatley

Best act of civil disobedience

Trayvon Martin protests
Even though the trial took place in Florida, Trayvon Martin protests occurred across the country in the days following the jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman on all charges of killing the 17-year-old. Atlantans took to the streets and practiced civil disobedience on a massive scale to demand justice.more...
Even though the trial took place in Florida, Trayvon Martin protests occurred across the country in the days following the jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman on all charges of killing the 17-year-old. Atlantans took to the streets and practiced civil disobedience on a massive scale to demand justice. They marched from Woodruff Park to the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta, and back. They protested across the street from the CNN Center. They rallied in West End and walked en masse to the heart of Downtown, clogging Peachtree Street. The next day, hundreds - possibly thousands - did it again from the Atlanta University Center to Centennial Olympic Park. Atlanta got loud. Atlanta got angry. Atlanta remained peaceful. All in all, zero arrests were reported. less...

Best addition to an excellent park

Piedmont Park's 13-acre expansion Piedmont Park
One of the best parks - arguably the best park - in Atlanta just got better. This summer, Piedmont Park's 13-acre expansion and its collection of new entrances was unveiled. The add-on near the intersection of Piedmont Road and Monroe Drive is crowned by the new Piedmont Commons, a multi-use fieldmore...
One of the best parks - arguably the best park - in Atlanta just got better. This summer, Piedmont Park's 13-acre expansion and its collection of new entrances was unveiled. The add-on near the intersection of Piedmont Road and Monroe Drive is crowned by the new Piedmont Commons, a multi-use field for relaxing and picnicking. New access points to the park, including a trail through the North Woods forest alongside the Atlanta Botanical Garden, offer easy access to Ansley Park and Morningside residents. The effort is a follow-up to a 2011 expansion that included wetlands, an expanded and improved dog park, and an interactive fountain. Even more excellence is on the way: The park's final planned expansion is set to include a skate park, and eventually the Beltline will also be built out along the greenspace. www.piedmontpark.org. less...

Best elected state official

State Rep. Stacey Evans
She doesn't have a reserved seat on Sunday morning talk shows like Mayor Kasim Reed. Nor the penchant for protests like state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. But State Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, deserves every bit as much of the spotlight. CL bestowed her with a 2012 Arnie Award - our annual accolademore...
She doesn't have a reserved seat on Sunday morning talk shows like Mayor Kasim Reed. Nor the penchant for protests like state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. But State Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, deserves every bit as much of the spotlight. CL bestowed her with a 2012 Arnie Award - our annual accolade for do-gooders under the Gold Dome - for coming back early from maternity leave to protest abortion legislation by wrapping herself in caution tape with other female Democratic lawmakers on the House floor. Evans took home yet another Arnie in 2013, this time for her adamant push to lower the HOPE scholarship's grade point average requirements for tech school students. Her proposal, which was designed to give students better access to vocational training opportunities at technical colleges, gained bipartisan support from her fellow lawmakers - as well as a reluctant Gov. Nathan Deal. www.staceyevans.org. less...



Best rabble-rouser

Common Cause Georgia
While progressive political group Better Georgia has emerged as a major GOP foe and a force to be reckoned with, Common Cause Georgia truly deserves applause for daring to question City Hall and the business elite. Amid the rushed process of the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium deal, the ethics watchdogmore...
While progressive political group Better Georgia has emerged as a major GOP foe and a force to be reckoned with, Common Cause Georgia truly deserves applause for daring to question City Hall and the business elite. Amid the rushed process of the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium deal, the ethics watchdog group stood as one of the few steadfast opponents and continuously expressed concerns. The organization called out city officials, most notably Mayor Kasim Reed, for what it considered a failure to maintain transparency. Common Cause also raised hell over the use the hotel and motel tax, from which at least $200 million (and potentially hundreds of millions more) will go toward the stadium's construction. In the end, Common Cause made a valiant, albeit unsuccessful, effort to collect 35,000 signatures to force the issue to a referendum. www.commoncause.org/ga. less...

Best stray animal

Piper the Beltline Cat
Not too many animals, domesticated or not, have their own Facebook page with more than 4,600 likes. But Piper the Beltline Cat, so named for her home in a drainage pipe along the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail, has become an Atlanta celebrity and unofficial mascot for the smart-growth project evermore...
Not too many animals, domesticated or not, have their own Facebook page with more than 4,600 likes. But Piper the Beltline Cat, so named for her home in a drainage pipe along the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail, has become an Atlanta celebrity and unofficial mascot for the smart-growth project ever since she cozied up in the metal coop earlier this year. It was there that she would chow down on Fancy Feast and "read" fan mail left in the mailbox admirers planted in her front yard. That is, until she was "bought out" by a developer building a residential complex atop her claimed home. No worries, however. The feline apparently found a new home a few blocks from the Beltline in a similar pipe attached to a bungalow. A big *pawbump* (her catchphrase, not ours) to the city's coolest stray. www.facebook.com/BeltLinePiper. less...

Best vision for Atlanta's west side

Northside Drive Corridor Study
Walk along Northside Drive and you'll pass auto shops, stores set far back from the street, and traffic congestion. Try to cross the busy north-south thoroughfare and you better have a will. Georgia Tech professor Mike Dobbins and a group of his students have set out to overhaul what's essentially anmore...
Walk along Northside Drive and you'll pass auto shops, stores set far back from the street, and traffic congestion. Try to cross the busy north-south thoroughfare and you better have a will. Georgia Tech professor Mike Dobbins and a group of his students have set out to overhaul what's essentially an intown highway. Over the course of a year, the former Atlanta planning commissioner and his pupils brainstormed and created the Northside Drive Corridor Study, a beautiful vision of transit, mixed-use development, and walkable environments that could improve Northside Drive. Among the proposals: starting bus rapid transit, turning the reservoir along Howell Mill Road into a park, and promoting dense, mixed-income developments. The analysis was timely - both a new Atlanta Falcons stadium and possible Amtrak and Greyhound stations are being considered along the road, which could mean major changes in the years to come. Heavy-hitters such as Central Atlanta Progress, the Midtown Alliance, City Hall, and Georgia Department of Transportation sponsored the study, so it's likely it will have some strong advocates when upgrades are considered. www.northsidedrvision.gatech.edu. less...

Best Instagram hashtag

  1. WELOVEATL
Every serious Instragrammer (and yes, we mean serious mobile artist) has his or her own favorite hashtags. They offer context, and even a sense of community, around a photo that's being shared. While lots of cellular photographers use #latergram or #vscocam, Atlanta's cellular shutterbugs rely upon themore...
Every serious Instragrammer (and yes, we mean serious mobile artist) has his or her own favorite hashtags. They offer context, and even a sense of community, around a photo that's being shared. While lots of cellular photographers use #latergram or #vscocam, Atlanta's cellular shutterbugs rely upon the beloved #WELOVEATL. Sparked by local photographers Tim Moxley, Aaron Coury, Keith Weaver, and Brandon Barr, the hashtag has now become an easy way to gaze upon the city and its characters. Its founders also recently bought a truck to serve as a mobile gallery. With one quick scroll through thousands of the tagged photos, you'll find an impressive collection of subjects, including the Majestic Diner's neon sign, High Museum artwork, Living Walls murals, and yes, a treasure trove of Kelvin-filtered skyline shots. Cutesy? Yeah. But if you're looking for a constantly refreshing photo essay of Atlanta, #weloveatl is waiting for you. www.instagram.com/WELOVEATL. less...

Best non-commercial radio station

WABE (90.1 FM)
For years, WABE (90.1 FM) has been a news staple. Now it's a force. Over the last few years, the public radio station's board has pumped long overdue cash into its headquarters, invested in a beefed-up staff, and added more news programs. The result is host Denis O'Hayer breaking news and snagging majormore...
For years, WABE (90.1 FM) has been a news staple. Now it's a force. Over the last few years, the public radio station's board has pumped long overdue cash into its headquarters, invested in a beefed-up staff, and added more news programs. The result is host Denis O'Hayer breaking news and snagging major interviews, interim news director Charles Edwards dispatching a diverse team of reporters into the field, and young producers such as Myke Johns and Kate Sweeney injecting new energy into the station with compelling cultural coverage. www.wabe.org. less...

Best sports team you're not watching

Atlanta Silverbacks
Who says Atlanta teams don't win championships? In April, thanks to the turnaround job led by new coach Brian Haynes, the Atlanta Silverbacks edged out the Carolina Railhawks to win the North American Soccer League's spring championship. With a small-but-rabid fan base and solid squad - including forwardsmore...
Who says Atlanta teams don't win championships? In April, thanks to the turnaround job led by new coach Brian Haynes, the Atlanta Silverbacks edged out the Carolina Railhawks to win the North American Soccer League's spring championship. With a small-but-rabid fan base and solid squad - including forwards Pedro Mendes and Danny Barrera and goalkeeper Eric Ati - that in the past has drawn the attention of Major League Soccer scouts, it's clear the scrappy team that plays in the shadow of the Spaghetti Junction has potential to win more silverware. www.atlantasilverbacks.com/fc/. less...

Best step to becoming a smarter city

Govathon
In February, City Hall officials brainstormed with programmers, data junkies, and other tech-minded geeks during Govathon, the first-ever citywide hackathon. Held inside City Hall's Old Council Chambers, city officials pitched citizens eager to improve Atlanta on projects and programs their underfundedmore...
In February, City Hall officials brainstormed with programmers, data junkies, and other tech-minded geeks during Govathon, the first-ever citywide hackathon. Held inside City Hall's Old Council Chambers, city officials pitched citizens eager to improve Atlanta on projects and programs their underfunded departments need. After working together for the better part of 24 hours, consuming countless pizza slices and cups of coffee, teams emerged with proposals for a series of promising Web programs and apps, many of which the city hopes to develop. The highlights include programs that generate online police reports, can search city park amenities or report vacant homes in blighted areas, and allow residents to rate Atlanta's customer service. Who said civic collaboration couldn't be fun? www.govathon.com. less...

Best step to tackle homelessness

Homeless Registry
It's hard to combat homelessness if you don't know exactly who or how many need help. Atlanta's officials realized this last year. The city's Innovation Delivery Team, which is funded by a grant from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic foundation, wanted to figure out a better way to getmore...
It's hard to combat homelessness if you don't know exactly who or how many need help. Atlanta's officials realized this last year. The city's Innovation Delivery Team, which is funded by a grant from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic foundation, wanted to figure out a better way to get men and women off the city's streets. So City Hall recruited an army of volunteers on a freezing January evening to help create its first-ever Homeless Registry. Over a 12-hour period, volunteers visited Atlanta's shelters and other so-called hot spots where they offered participants $5 McDonald's gift cards in exchange for taking a confidential survey. In total, the volunteers spoke with nearly 400 people. The survey asked personal questions about past employment, housing, substance abuse, and mental illness history. Although the findings won't solve the problem of homelessness, at least the city now has a better idea of what the issues are. www.unshelterednomore.com. less...

Best crime-fighting superhero

Crimson Fist
It takes more than police officers to fight crime. That's where the Crimson Fist enters the picture. For the last seven years, the crimson-masked crusader dressed in spandex, cargo pants, and combat boots has patrolled and picked up litter in Castleberry Hill. Armed with a medical kit, plastic ties,more...
It takes more than police officers to fight crime. That's where the Crimson Fist enters the picture. For the last seven years, the crimson-masked crusader dressed in spandex, cargo pants, and combat boots has patrolled and picked up litter in Castleberry Hill. Armed with a medical kit, plastic ties, and a device that sends electric shocks through his gloves, the Decatur native (who's occasionally joined by his wife, "Metadata") keeps watch over the historic neighborhood. Over the years, he's developed a fan base and even attracted a documentary crew. In addition to his crime-fighting work, he also works to gather clothing for the homeless and has even helped find tools for an English Avenue community garden. The enigmatic superhero has managed to keep his identity private - he says his parents don't know about his extracurricular activities - not to mention stay alive. Unlike the typical vigilante, he's quick to call police for backup. www.facebook.com/heroatl. less...



Best neighborhood to live in without a car

Midtown
If you've got to make Atlanta work without a car - which, no joke, is possible - Midtown is the place to do it. This sky-high 'hood boasts all you need for transit-/walk-/bike-friendly living: a Publix to keep your stomach full and a smorgasbord of bars to keep your liver constantly under attack;more...
If you've got to make Atlanta work without a car - which, no joke, is possible - Midtown is the place to do it. This sky-high 'hood boasts all you need for transit-/walk-/bike-friendly living: a Publix to keep your stomach full and a smorgasbord of bars to keep your liver constantly under attack; three convenient MARTA rail stops (North Avenue, Midtown, Arts Center); nearby culture at the Woodruff Arts Center and Fox Theatre, among other spots; and one of the city's best greenspaces, Piedmont Park. While the neighborhood borders on being too cookie-cutter for some, it's just a short walk to the Atlanta Beltline and the new Eastside Trail, which leads directly to Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, and beyond. www.midtownatl.com. less...

Best athletic redemption story

Brian Banks
After Brian Banks had verbally committed to play college football with the University of Southern California, he was falsely accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. He received a wrongful conviction in 2002, served a five-year prison sentence, registered as a sex offender, and remained on probation formore...
After Brian Banks had verbally committed to play college football with the University of Southern California, he was falsely accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. He received a wrongful conviction in 2002, served a five-year prison sentence, registered as a sex offender, and remained on probation for an additional five years. This past April, shortly after Banks was exonerated of all charges after completing most of his sentence, the Atlanta Falcons signed the 28-year-old and gave him a chance to fight for a spot on the team's roster. He was cut from the team in late August, but won the respect and admiration of Falcons fans along the way. less...

Best bizarro news story

Darien Long Kickass Mall Cop
It started with YouTube clips of overzealous onsite manager and security guard Darien Long urging unruly people to move along at Downtown's Metro Mall, a building full of vendors hawking jeans, purses, and gold teeth. When his requests went unheeded, he turned to ... a taser. The videos, shot with amore...
It started with YouTube clips of overzealous onsite manager and security guard Darien Long urging unruly people to move along at Downtown's Metro Mall, a building full of vendors hawking jeans, purses, and gold teeth. When his requests went unheeded, he turned to ... a taser. The videos, shot with a camera mounted on the guard's chest, soon went viral, appearing on Reddit, World Star Hip Hop, and elsewhere, and thus was born Darien Long, Kickass Mall Cop. The jarring recordings of young men and women paralyzed by the electric shocks earned Long criticism for a seemingly vigilante approach to crime-fighting. Downtowners debated whether his tough-on-loiterers stance was good or bad for the area's image. But he also had his fans. Online admirers started a donation fund to purchase Long new equipment, ultimately raising more than $23,500. Fueled by the subtexts of class, race, and criminality, the controversy underscored the decades-long lack of economic development that has made South Downtown ripe for gentrification. And Long, with his aggressive tactics and subversive videos, seemed like the perfect pawn for such an endgame. In late March, however, Long said he was being let go from his gig. Shortly after breaking the news to the public, he was arrested and charged with battery for tackling a mall patron whom he'd allegedly told not to return to the shopping complex. "When you're a whistleblower, you're a hero to some and the scum of the earth to others," he said the day before his arrest. less...

Best blogger

Terry Kearns
If you find an Atlanta building charming, chances are Terry Kearns has blogged about it. If you're wondering what happened to one of your favorite structures, he's probably videotaped its demolition, complete with commentary. The bespectacled Web designer and architecture buff is a ubiquitous presencemore...
If you find an Atlanta building charming, chances are Terry Kearns has blogged about it. If you're wondering what happened to one of your favorite structures, he's probably videotaped its demolition, complete with commentary. The bespectacled Web designer and architecture buff is a ubiquitous presence at art gallery happenings around town, and painstakingly details the cornices, columns, and goings-on in the local development world. www.architecturetourist.blogspot.com. less...

Best new Atlanta sports legend

Evan Gattis
How's this for a story? Dallas native Evan Gattis' improbable road to the majors started with a tumultuous college career filled with overwhelming anxiety, self-medication with drugs and booze, and a rehab stint. He quit baseball and went on to become a parking valet, a pizza parlor employee, a ski-liftmore...
How's this for a story? Dallas native Evan Gattis' improbable road to the majors started with a tumultuous college career filled with overwhelming anxiety, self-medication with drugs and booze, and a rehab stint. He quit baseball and went on to become a parking valet, a pizza parlor employee, a ski-lift operator, and a janitor. After meeting a spiritual advisor, he decided to give baseball one more shot, and was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 23rd round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. Fast forward after three years in the minors and "El Oso Blanco" is now one of the team's breakout stars and a viable Rookie of the Year candidate. www.twitter.com/BulldogBeing. less...

Best print journalist

Greg Bluestein
In June 2012, Greg Bluestein made the jump to the AJC from the Associated Press' Atlanta bureau, where for seven years he'd covered everything from the Brian Nichols trial to the BP oil spill and a West Virginia mine explosion. His official new beats were commercial real estate and economic development,more...
In June 2012, Greg Bluestein made the jump to the AJC from the Associated Press' Atlanta bureau, where for seven years he'd covered everything from the Brian Nichols trial to the BP oil spill and a West Virginia mine explosion. His official new beats were commercial real estate and economic development, but it quickly became clear that he could cover anything. Bluestein's name started appearing on political stories and pretty much everything else. In addition to uncovering questionable expenses that led to the resignation of the Atlanta Beltline's CEO, he's reported on corporations underwriting Gov. Nathan Deals trip to China and Gold Dome shenanigans during the legislative session. He's an attack dog and a workhorse and he's one of the biggest strengths at the metro region's paper of record. www.twitter.com/Bluestein. less...

Best reaction to a bad idea

Smart Growth Atlanta
About a year ago, veteran Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua announced plans to turn a defunct Glenwood Park cement factory along the Atlanta Beltline into a massive retail center. The proposed shopping complex included a 143,000-square-foot big-box anchor tenant rumored to be a Walmart and a sea of parkingmore...
About a year ago, veteran Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua announced plans to turn a defunct Glenwood Park cement factory along the Atlanta Beltline into a massive retail center. The proposed shopping complex included a 143,000-square-foot big-box anchor tenant rumored to be a Walmart and a sea of parking lots. Residents of Grant Park, Ormewood Park, and other surrounding communities quickly hired a lawyer and formed Smart Growth Atlanta and began fighting for a more walkable, denser development that meshes with the Beltline's vision. In July, their adamant pushback swelled to the point where hundreds of concerned opponents piled into City Hall to support an attempted rezoning effort. They heckled Fuqua's representatives and pressured Zoning Review Board members. After a small victory that evening, one local resident even wept tears of joy. It remains to be seen how Fuqua's proposal will pan out (Edgewood Retail District redux?), but it's clear that southeast Atlantans don't want the same car-centric development found in the suburbs - and want to protect the transit-oriented, walkable Beltline vision they helped create during planning meetings. www.smartgrowthatlanta.org. less...

Best new revitalization project

Emerald Corridor
If there's a part of Atlanta that's seen as little investment as southwest Atlanta, it's northwest Atlanta. Running through that long-overlooked part of town is Proctor Creek, a polluted waterway stretching from Vine City and English Avenue to the Chattahoochee River. It's an untapped asset that, thanksmore...
If there's a part of Atlanta that's seen as little investment as southwest Atlanta, it's northwest Atlanta. Running through that long-overlooked part of town is Proctor Creek, a polluted waterway stretching from Vine City and English Avenue to the Chattahoochee River. It's an untapped asset that, thanks to a bold plan by some private developers, could become the Emerald Corridor, a linear park and bike trail flanked by smart development. The project has the blessing of the federal government and is far along in discussions with City Hall, which is providing some land. Much like the Beltline or every other project that aims to improve an area, it could spark questions and concerns about public investment and gentrification. But it has great potential to revitalize the area and will be something to watch unfold. less...

Best riverwalk

Island Ford
If you want a quiet hike or run in one of the Chattahoochee River's more scenic and less crowded areas (with plenty of nooks where you can take a dip, depending on the water quality) head to Island Ford. The approximately 300-acre North Fulton enclave, which serves as the recreation area's headquarters,more...
If you want a quiet hike or run in one of the Chattahoochee River's more scenic and less crowded areas (with plenty of nooks where you can take a dip, depending on the water quality) head to Island Ford. The approximately 300-acre North Fulton enclave, which serves as the recreation area's headquarters, boasts a trail through the forest and along the river with clear views of gently flowing water, shoals, kayaking, and geese galore. Unlike other sections of the river, Island Ford is relatively free from development. If you have any questions, stop by the well-maintained visitor station that was once the 1930s summer home - made with timber from the Okefenokee Swamp and Stone Mountain rock - of former Georgia Supreme Court Judge Samuel Hewlett. www.nps.gov/chat. less...

Best step to make Atlanta more bikeable

$2.5 million to bicycle projects
The Atlanta City Council made a wise move back in February when it dedicated $2.5 million to bicycle projects. The cash comes from unspent bond funding and the infrastructure upgrades, including bike lanes, are planned for Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Castleberry Hill, and portions of southwest Atlanta.more...
The Atlanta City Council made a wise move back in February when it dedicated $2.5 million to bicycle projects. The cash comes from unspent bond funding and the infrastructure upgrades, including bike lanes, are planned for Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Castleberry Hill, and portions of southwest Atlanta. The funding would also create the city's first-ever "bike boulevard" along James P. Brawley Drive, connecting Atlanta University Center to nearby neighborhoods. Some projects, including a two-way "cycle track" on 10th Street, have already been built. Others, including bike lanes along Ponce de Leon Avenue and Juniper Street, are underway or scheduled to begin soon. Once complete, they'll be a major boon to the city's bicycling community. www.atlantabike.org/comingup. less...

Best urban hike

Atlanta Beltline's Southwest Trail
The Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail is a great place to visit if you want to get lost in a real-life artist's rendering of a smart-growth Nirvana. If you're in the mood for more rustic splendor, head south to Adair Park. There, the Beltline's Southwest Trail weaves through lush grass, between old warehouses,more...
The Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail is a great place to visit if you want to get lost in a real-life artist's rendering of a smart-growth Nirvana. If you're in the mood for more rustic splendor, head south to Adair Park. There, the Beltline's Southwest Trail weaves through lush grass, between old warehouses, and under beautiful bridges. (Wear galoshes after rainy days, as the makeshift path is below grade and prone to flooding.) In late August, Beltline officials won an $18 million federal grant that will help fund construction of the trail segment to match the Eastside's design. While that's great news, it will be bittersweet for those who love the southwest's rustic authenticity and meandering feel. Enjoy it while you can. www.beltline.org. less...

Best child care center

The Suzuki School The Suzuki School
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best free annual event

Dogwood Festival AND SweetWater 420 Fest



Best hotel

W Atlanta-Midtown W Atlanta Midtown

Best morning drive-time radio show

"The Regular Guys" on 100.5 (WNNX-FM)



Best street

Peachtree Street

Best high School

Henry W. Grady High School Henry W. Grady High School

Best party school

Georgia State University Georgia State University

Best person you love to hate

Kasim Reed AND Nathan Deal
www.kasimreed.com AND gov.georgia.gov

Best suburb

Decatur

Best walkable neighborhood

Virginia Highland

Best city view

Jackson Street bridge at Freedom Parkway

Best landmark

Clermont Lounge Clermont Lounge

Best skate park

Historic Fourth Ward Park

best urban radio station

V-103 (WVEE-FM)
v103.cbslocal.com

Best place to people-watch

Little Five Points

Best bizarro local news story

Arrest of Baton Bob
batonbob.weebly.com

Best charity

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

Best college

Georgia State University Georgia State University

Best dog park

Piedmont Park Dog Park Piedmont Dog Park
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Best act of civil disobedience

Trayvon Martin protests
Even though the trial took place in Florida, Trayvon Martin protests occurred across the country in the days following the jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman on all charges of killing the 17-year-old. Atlantans took to the streets and practiced civil disobedience on a massive scale to demand justice.more...
Even though the trial took place in Florida, Trayvon Martin protests occurred across the country in the days following the jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman on all charges of killing the 17-year-old. Atlantans took to the streets and practiced civil disobedience on a massive scale to demand justice. They marched from Woodruff Park to the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta, and back. They protested across the street from the CNN Center. They rallied in West End and walked en masse to the heart of Downtown, clogging Peachtree Street. The next day, hundreds - possibly thousands - did it again from the Atlanta University Center to Centennial Olympic Park. Atlanta got loud. Atlanta got angry. Atlanta remained peaceful. All in all, zero arrests were reported. less...

Best addition to an excellent park

Piedmont Park's 13-acre expansion Piedmont Park
One of the best parks - arguably the best park - in Atlanta just got better. This summer, Piedmont Park's 13-acre expansion and its collection of new entrances was unveiled. The add-on near the intersection of Piedmont Road and Monroe Drive is crowned by the new Piedmont Commons, a multi-use fieldmore...
One of the best parks - arguably the best park - in Atlanta just got better. This summer, Piedmont Park's 13-acre expansion and its collection of new entrances was unveiled. The add-on near the intersection of Piedmont Road and Monroe Drive is crowned by the new Piedmont Commons, a multi-use field for relaxing and picnicking. New access points to the park, including a trail through the North Woods forest alongside the Atlanta Botanical Garden, offer easy access to Ansley Park and Morningside residents. The effort is a follow-up to a 2011 expansion that included wetlands, an expanded and improved dog park, and an interactive fountain. Even more excellence is on the way: The park's final planned expansion is set to include a skate park, and eventually the Beltline will also be built out along the greenspace. www.piedmontpark.org. less...

Best child care center

The Suzuki School The Suzuki School
And other metro Atlanta locations.



Best elected state official

State Rep. Stacey Evans
She doesn't have a reserved seat on Sunday morning talk shows like Mayor Kasim Reed. Nor the penchant for protests like state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. But State Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, deserves every bit as much of the spotlight. CL bestowed her with a 2012 Arnie Award - our annual accolademore...
She doesn't have a reserved seat on Sunday morning talk shows like Mayor Kasim Reed. Nor the penchant for protests like state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta. But State Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, deserves every bit as much of the spotlight. CL bestowed her with a 2012 Arnie Award - our annual accolade for do-gooders under the Gold Dome - for coming back early from maternity leave to protest abortion legislation by wrapping herself in caution tape with other female Democratic lawmakers on the House floor. Evans took home yet another Arnie in 2013, this time for her adamant push to lower the HOPE scholarship's grade point average requirements for tech school students. Her proposal, which was designed to give students better access to vocational training opportunities at technical colleges, gained bipartisan support from her fellow lawmakers - as well as a reluctant Gov. Nathan Deal. www.staceyevans.org. less...

Best free annual event

Dogwood Festival AND SweetWater 420 Fest

Best hotel

W Atlanta-Midtown W Atlanta Midtown

Best morning drive-time radio show

"The Regular Guys" on 100.5 (WNNX-FM)

Best rabble-rouser

Common Cause Georgia
While progressive political group Better Georgia has emerged as a major GOP foe and a force to be reckoned with, Common Cause Georgia truly deserves applause for daring to question City Hall and the business elite. Amid the rushed process of the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium deal, the ethics watchdogmore...
While progressive political group Better Georgia has emerged as a major GOP foe and a force to be reckoned with, Common Cause Georgia truly deserves applause for daring to question City Hall and the business elite. Amid the rushed process of the Atlanta Falcons' new stadium deal, the ethics watchdog group stood as one of the few steadfast opponents and continuously expressed concerns. The organization called out city officials, most notably Mayor Kasim Reed, for what it considered a failure to maintain transparency. Common Cause also raised hell over the use the hotel and motel tax, from which at least $200 million (and potentially hundreds of millions more) will go toward the stadium's construction. In the end, Common Cause made a valiant, albeit unsuccessful, effort to collect 35,000 signatures to force the issue to a referendum. www.commoncause.org/ga. less...

Best stray animal

Piper the Beltline Cat
Not too many animals, domesticated or not, have their own Facebook page with more than 4,600 likes. But Piper the Beltline Cat, so named for her home in a drainage pipe along the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail, has become an Atlanta celebrity and unofficial mascot for the smart-growth project evermore...
Not too many animals, domesticated or not, have their own Facebook page with more than 4,600 likes. But Piper the Beltline Cat, so named for her home in a drainage pipe along the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail, has become an Atlanta celebrity and unofficial mascot for the smart-growth project ever since she cozied up in the metal coop earlier this year. It was there that she would chow down on Fancy Feast and "read" fan mail left in the mailbox admirers planted in her front yard. That is, until she was "bought out" by a developer building a residential complex atop her claimed home. No worries, however. The feline apparently found a new home a few blocks from the Beltline in a similar pipe attached to a bungalow. A big *pawbump* (her catchphrase, not ours) to the city's coolest stray. www.facebook.com/BeltLinePiper. less...

Best street

Peachtree Street

Best vision for Atlanta's west side

Northside Drive Corridor Study
Walk along Northside Drive and you'll pass auto shops, stores set far back from the street, and traffic congestion. Try to cross the busy north-south thoroughfare and you better have a will. Georgia Tech professor Mike Dobbins and a group of his students have set out to overhaul what's essentially anmore...
Walk along Northside Drive and you'll pass auto shops, stores set far back from the street, and traffic congestion. Try to cross the busy north-south thoroughfare and you better have a will. Georgia Tech professor Mike Dobbins and a group of his students have set out to overhaul what's essentially an intown highway. Over the course of a year, the former Atlanta planning commissioner and his pupils brainstormed and created the Northside Drive Corridor Study, a beautiful vision of transit, mixed-use development, and walkable environments that could improve Northside Drive. Among the proposals: starting bus rapid transit, turning the reservoir along Howell Mill Road into a park, and promoting dense, mixed-income developments. The analysis was timely - both a new Atlanta Falcons stadium and possible Amtrak and Greyhound stations are being considered along the road, which could mean major changes in the years to come. Heavy-hitters such as Central Atlanta Progress, the Midtown Alliance, City Hall, and Georgia Department of Transportation sponsored the study, so it's likely it will have some strong advocates when upgrades are considered. www.northsidedrvision.gatech.edu. less...

Best high School

Henry W. Grady High School Henry W. Grady High School

Best Instagram hashtag

  1. WELOVEATL
Every serious Instragrammer (and yes, we mean serious mobile artist) has his or her own favorite hashtags. They offer context, and even a sense of community, around a photo that's being shared. While lots of cellular photographers use #latergram or #vscocam, Atlanta's cellular shutterbugs rely upon themore...
Every serious Instragrammer (and yes, we mean serious mobile artist) has his or her own favorite hashtags. They offer context, and even a sense of community, around a photo that's being shared. While lots of cellular photographers use #latergram or #vscocam, Atlanta's cellular shutterbugs rely upon the beloved #WELOVEATL. Sparked by local photographers Tim Moxley, Aaron Coury, Keith Weaver, and Brandon Barr, the hashtag has now become an easy way to gaze upon the city and its characters. Its founders also recently bought a truck to serve as a mobile gallery. With one quick scroll through thousands of the tagged photos, you'll find an impressive collection of subjects, including the Majestic Diner's neon sign, High Museum artwork, Living Walls murals, and yes, a treasure trove of Kelvin-filtered skyline shots. Cutesy? Yeah. But if you're looking for a constantly refreshing photo essay of Atlanta, #weloveatl is waiting for you. www.instagram.com/WELOVEATL. less...

Best non-commercial radio station

WABE (90.1 FM)
For years, WABE (90.1 FM) has been a news staple. Now it's a force. Over the last few years, the public radio station's board has pumped long overdue cash into its headquarters, invested in a beefed-up staff, and added more news programs. The result is host Denis O'Hayer breaking news and snagging majormore...
For years, WABE (90.1 FM) has been a news staple. Now it's a force. Over the last few years, the public radio station's board has pumped long overdue cash into its headquarters, invested in a beefed-up staff, and added more news programs. The result is host Denis O'Hayer breaking news and snagging major interviews, interim news director Charles Edwards dispatching a diverse team of reporters into the field, and young producers such as Myke Johns and Kate Sweeney injecting new energy into the station with compelling cultural coverage. www.wabe.org. less...

Best party school

Georgia State University Georgia State University

Best person you love to hate

Kasim Reed AND Nathan Deal
www.kasimreed.com AND gov.georgia.gov

Best sports team you're not watching

Atlanta Silverbacks
Who says Atlanta teams don't win championships? In April, thanks to the turnaround job led by new coach Brian Haynes, the Atlanta Silverbacks edged out the Carolina Railhawks to win the North American Soccer League's spring championship. With a small-but-rabid fan base and solid squad - including forwardsmore...
Who says Atlanta teams don't win championships? In April, thanks to the turnaround job led by new coach Brian Haynes, the Atlanta Silverbacks edged out the Carolina Railhawks to win the North American Soccer League's spring championship. With a small-but-rabid fan base and solid squad - including forwards Pedro Mendes and Danny Barrera and goalkeeper Eric Ati - that in the past has drawn the attention of Major League Soccer scouts, it's clear the scrappy team that plays in the shadow of the Spaghetti Junction has potential to win more silverware. www.atlantasilverbacks.com/fc/. less...

Best step to becoming a smarter city

Govathon
In February, City Hall officials brainstormed with programmers, data junkies, and other tech-minded geeks during Govathon, the first-ever citywide hackathon. Held inside City Hall's Old Council Chambers, city officials pitched citizens eager to improve Atlanta on projects and programs their underfundedmore...
In February, City Hall officials brainstormed with programmers, data junkies, and other tech-minded geeks during Govathon, the first-ever citywide hackathon. Held inside City Hall's Old Council Chambers, city officials pitched citizens eager to improve Atlanta on projects and programs their underfunded departments need. After working together for the better part of 24 hours, consuming countless pizza slices and cups of coffee, teams emerged with proposals for a series of promising Web programs and apps, many of which the city hopes to develop. The highlights include programs that generate online police reports, can search city park amenities or report vacant homes in blighted areas, and allow residents to rate Atlanta's customer service. Who said civic collaboration couldn't be fun? www.govathon.com. less...

Best step to tackle homelessness

Homeless Registry
It's hard to combat homelessness if you don't know exactly who or how many need help. Atlanta's officials realized this last year. The city's Innovation Delivery Team, which is funded by a grant from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic foundation, wanted to figure out a better way to getmore...
It's hard to combat homelessness if you don't know exactly who or how many need help. Atlanta's officials realized this last year. The city's Innovation Delivery Team, which is funded by a grant from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic foundation, wanted to figure out a better way to get men and women off the city's streets. So City Hall recruited an army of volunteers on a freezing January evening to help create its first-ever Homeless Registry. Over a 12-hour period, volunteers visited Atlanta's shelters and other so-called hot spots where they offered participants $5 McDonald's gift cards in exchange for taking a confidential survey. In total, the volunteers spoke with nearly 400 people. The survey asked personal questions about past employment, housing, substance abuse, and mental illness history. Although the findings won't solve the problem of homelessness, at least the city now has a better idea of what the issues are. www.unshelterednomore.com. less...

Best suburb

Decatur

Best walkable neighborhood

Virginia Highland

Best city view

Jackson Street bridge at Freedom Parkway

Best crime-fighting superhero

Crimson Fist
It takes more than police officers to fight crime. That's where the Crimson Fist enters the picture. For the last seven years, the crimson-masked crusader dressed in spandex, cargo pants, and combat boots has patrolled and picked up litter in Castleberry Hill. Armed with a medical kit, plastic ties,more...
It takes more than police officers to fight crime. That's where the Crimson Fist enters the picture. For the last seven years, the crimson-masked crusader dressed in spandex, cargo pants, and combat boots has patrolled and picked up litter in Castleberry Hill. Armed with a medical kit, plastic ties, and a device that sends electric shocks through his gloves, the Decatur native (who's occasionally joined by his wife, "Metadata") keeps watch over the historic neighborhood. Over the years, he's developed a fan base and even attracted a documentary crew. In addition to his crime-fighting work, he also works to gather clothing for the homeless and has even helped find tools for an English Avenue community garden. The enigmatic superhero has managed to keep his identity private - he says his parents don't know about his extracurricular activities - not to mention stay alive. Unlike the typical vigilante, he's quick to call police for backup. www.facebook.com/heroatl. less...

Best landmark

Clermont Lounge Clermont Lounge

Best neighborhood to live in without a car

Midtown
If you've got to make Atlanta work without a car - which, no joke, is possible - Midtown is the place to do it. This sky-high 'hood boasts all you need for transit-/walk-/bike-friendly living: a Publix to keep your stomach full and a smorgasbord of bars to keep your liver constantly under attack;more...
If you've got to make Atlanta work without a car - which, no joke, is possible - Midtown is the place to do it. This sky-high 'hood boasts all you need for transit-/walk-/bike-friendly living: a Publix to keep your stomach full and a smorgasbord of bars to keep your liver constantly under attack; three convenient MARTA rail stops (North Avenue, Midtown, Arts Center); nearby culture at the Woodruff Arts Center and Fox Theatre, among other spots; and one of the city's best greenspaces, Piedmont Park. While the neighborhood borders on being too cookie-cutter for some, it's just a short walk to the Atlanta Beltline and the new Eastside Trail, which leads directly to Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, and beyond. www.midtownatl.com. less...

Best skate park

Historic Fourth Ward Park

best urban radio station

V-103 (WVEE-FM)
v103.cbslocal.com

Best athletic redemption story

Brian Banks
After Brian Banks had verbally committed to play college football with the University of Southern California, he was falsely accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. He received a wrongful conviction in 2002, served a five-year prison sentence, registered as a sex offender, and remained on probation formore...
After Brian Banks had verbally committed to play college football with the University of Southern California, he was falsely accused of raping a 15-year-old girl. He received a wrongful conviction in 2002, served a five-year prison sentence, registered as a sex offender, and remained on probation for an additional five years. This past April, shortly after Banks was exonerated of all charges after completing most of his sentence, the Atlanta Falcons signed the 28-year-old and gave him a chance to fight for a spot on the team's roster. He was cut from the team in late August, but won the respect and admiration of Falcons fans along the way. less...
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