We’re a proud and friendly bunch, we Atlantans. Yet, most of us aren’t actually “from” The Big Peach. Recent statistics rattle off numbers indicating that true, native Atlantans are becoming an endangered species. We’ve gathered some thoughts to put into the time capsule before there’s threat of total extinction.
1) We are an international city with Olympic-sized heart … and a bizarre mascot.
Hello, World! Atlanta joyfully announced its Southern pride to the entire world with the 1996 Olympics. The games changed the face of our city forever as people poured into town and stayed. Centennial Park stands as a wonderful gift from this event. Then, there’s the mascot of the ’96 games. Izzy. Orginally named WhatIsIt, because even the marketing people could not identify it’s symbolism. This silly-looking critter still perplexes … Really?
2) ITP, OTP, Who’s gotta pee before we get in the car?
Atlanta’s huge metro area depends upon an often aggravating network of highways. Interstate 20 bisects the city from East-to-West while I-75 and I-85 run North-and-South; Georgia Hwy 400 originates as a Buckhead area spur of I-85 and runs from there to the North Georgia foothills. The bypass highway, I-285, connects these others in a loop nicknamed The Perimeter. Urban sprawl, suburban neighborhoods, shopping and commercial areas are categorized as being either inside this perimeter (ITP) or outside the perimeter (OTP). Spaghetti Junction refers to the noodling batch of ramps and interchanges connecting I-285 and I-85N. Don’t get stuck as the meatball on top of that one.
3) Traffic Doom
Atlanta traffic. Just two words send terror shivering through the hearts of commuters. Atlanta traffic can not be overstated. That aforementioned sprawl throws thousands of vehicles onto the same roads at the same time every day — meaning rush hour lasts from 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. If you absolutely have to be on the road during those times, pack some snacks. We’ve complained about this for years and the #SnowJam14 in January proved that we have not been exaggerating. Make it stop. Someone, just make it stop.
4) Southern Champagne
It’s a Coke. Whatever that fizzy beverage you want in your glass, in Atlanta it’s a Coke… not a soda, not a pop, and certainly not that OTHER “P” substance. Mr. Pemberton started selling that magic potion here in 1886 and the secret formula’s still held downtown, moving in 2011 from it’s 86-year home in a SunTrust Bank vault to a new specially-designed vault at the World of Coca-Cola museum.
5) The Genteel Fast Food Nation
We know what the people want to eat. Waffle House and Chick-Fil-A are a couple of the most well-known and highly-lauded of our locally-founded quickie cuisine kingdoms. Whether cravings find you scattered, smothered and covered, or clucking for chicken sandwich perfection, give a wink our way for hospitality. You’re welcome.
6) What’ll Ya Have, What’ll Ya have, What’ll Ya Have?
Our local food scene now reigns as one of the best in the country, enjoying a culinary renaissance over the last couple of decades that’s secured a reputation for amazing restaurants rivaling anywhere. But, those born and raised here speak wistfully of the old classics lost to the ages: Coach and Six, Herren’s, Fan and Bills, and Aunt Fanny’s Cabin. Thankfully, The Varsity drive-in continues walking the dog sideways, and since 1928 hungry Atlantans have understood the lingo.
7) Class, Open Your History Textbook
Walking Dead fans may be surprised to know that Terminus was actually the original name of our fair hamlet, staked in 1837 as a railroad stop on the line between Chattanooga and Savannah. In 1843, the name changed to Marthasville for the acting governor’s daughter. Finally, in 1847, the city became Atlanta, after the Atlantic-Pacific railroad growing the region.
8) This Place Is On Fire
Burned to the ground by General Sherman in 1864, Atlanta rose stronger from those ashes, adopting the Phoenix as it’s symbol. We remain the only major American city completely decimated during wartime. Fiddle-Dee-Dee.
9) Proper Pronunciation
This is Et-Lanna or At-Lanna…or maybe even A-yut-lanna. The only time we hear that last “T” is over broadcast airwaves or those recordings played in the airport terminal shuttles. Never Hotlanta, puh-leeez. (Bless your heart.)
10) Speaking of the Airport…
This is busiest airport in the world, because of the many connections, which actually makes travel simple for Atlantans. We can catch a flight almost anywhere and we know to arrive for check-in 2 hours prior to boarding. Ironically, we’re probably not making a flight connection. Hmmm. (For extra travel fun, check-in at the airport on social media and giggle at the quirky assortment of nicknames it’s earned.)
11) Pass the Peaches
There are well over 50 roadways named a variation of Peachtree, none of them lined with peach trees. Our condolences to all those newcomers headed out for an important meeting or job interview clutching scribbled directions containing the phrase “turn onto Peachtree.”
12) Run for It
Our iconic 4th of July tradition, the Peachtree Road Race, holds the distinction of the largest 10K in the world. But, runners pass no peach trees on the route.
13) Confederate Rushmore
Rising over 1600 feet in the air, seemingly out of nowhere, Stone Mountain boasts sweeping views, natural splendor and the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. Depicting Confederate icons Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, the impressive carving has faced great controversy since it’s creation.
14) And Those Landmarks Are Marking What?
15) Is That Who I Think It Is?
No dearth of local celebrities around here. From sports stars to music moguls, screen idols to dance divas, stage phenoms to political power brokers, literary legends to culinary icons, the best and the brightest settle into our city quite nicely. None of them outshine our local darling, though: self-proclaimed Ambassador of Mirth, Baton Bob. Keep twirling.
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