Noguchi Playscape, Atlanta

We visited the Noguchi Playscape today at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. It was a beautiful, spring-like day and it seemed like the whole city was outside enjoying the weather. Quite a nice break from the cold winds and winter weather of recent weekends.

1888 map of Atlanta

Flickr user thornydalemapco posts this 1888 map of Atlanta, showing city limits (in darker yellow) that radiate in a circle from the city center. Click here or on the above image to see a much, much larger version.

It’s interesting to note that it wasn’t until 1904 that the City of Atlanta incorporated most of what is now Midtown; and Buckhead didn’t join the city until 1952. Read more about Atlanta’s annexations here.

On the top, right of the map you’ll see a section for Ponce de Leon Springs. You can read a very interesting history of that park here. It was a major destination for decades in the late 19th, early 20th centuries and was located near the current Ponce City Market.

Midtown Atlanta on a cloudy New Years Day, 2014.

Midtown Atlanta on a cloudy New Years Day, 2014.

Midtown losing one of it’s most hated (by me) parking lots

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Take a look at this photo, above, of the area around the Midtown MARTA station (top, center).

Let’s play a game: can you spot the difference between 1.) this place; and 2.) a good urban place?

Did you guess “the enormous, two-block, surface-parking lot right next to a transit station in an area of urban density”? If so — you win! Actually, we all win, because if all goes as planned, this surface lot will not exist much longer.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, a developer is planning to replace this lot with a series of mixed-use buildings, in a range of scales. Here’s the rendering, from Wood Partners:

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I’m not one to judge whether or not this is the most architecturally satisfying thing that could happen to Midtown — others can do that. But it’s mixed in use and scale and it will kill a surface parking lot that’s been bugging my tender, urbanist sensibilities for many years. Seeing this prime space next to a MARTA station get wasted as surface parking has been a real bummer.

As for a timeline, the article reports: “Wood Partners said Wednesday it could break ground during the first half 2014. The goal is to complete construction in 2016.” I can’t wait. It’ll be a good thing for this part of Midtown — a nicely walkable area — and also for MARTA, which will probably get a much-needed boost in riders with this next door.

Two Midtown (Atlanta) events of interest this week: a hackathon & an open house about MARTA station improvements

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Blogger mathildepiard writes about two cool events in Midtown this week that are focused on improving he experience of city life:

Two really interesting events in just one week! Both organized (in part at least) by the Midtown Alliance:

  • MARTA, Midtown Alliance, and Atlanta Regional Commission are holding an open house to get as much input from the public as possible on an exciting new initiative to improve the MARTA stations in the Midtown area (Arts Center, Midtown and North Avenue). Wednesday, September 11, 2013. RSVP here
  • The Midtown Buzz Mobile Hackathon is the launch event of a six-month initiative to build connected mobile applications to improve and enhance the Midtown experience. There are three prize categories (and some nice prizes too):

    1. Wayfinder - enhance the visitor experience in Midtown as they live, work and play. What are some cool local sites, shops, tours, and other things that make Midtown unique?
    2. Transportation - make it easier to travel around Midtown by foot, bike, or automobile. Where are the bike racks?  What is my easiest route through the MARTA stations? What are my parking options?
    3. Wildcard - propose your own idea or grab some from the idea bank.

    All the teams participating (and new teams who emerge along the way) will have the chance to continue their work after the launch hackathon to vie for an even bigger prizes to be awarded in January to those who successfully release their apps to the market. Friday, September 13 to Saturday, September 14, 2013. RSVP here

What a family can do without a car in Atlanta

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We got together with some friends and their kids on Saturday — they took MARTA to our downtown home and we had lunch at the wonderful Le French Quarter Cafe on Walton Street. Then we all rode the train to the Fox Theater (above) to see The Croods. The Fox is a great place to see movies.

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After that, my family walked from the Fox to Piedmont Park and had a good time at the Noguchi Playscape (above). It was a little over a mile walk, but we broke it up by pausing for some coffee and a rest at Empire State South on the way (they sell coffee to go and have a nice patio). That’s the key to long family walks in the city — knowing where all the good spots are for taking a break.

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On Sunday we took another long walk. We went to Pizzeria Vesuvius for lunch, stopping midway to let our son enjoy a swing someone’s attached to a billboard Downtown (above).

On our way to Springvale Park in Inman Park after lunch, we stopped for a long break at Condesa Coffee and a small shopping trip at Savi. When you live in a Downtown building that has no parking, you learn to shop for groceries whenever you can, in small batches (which is actually a good way to do it). 

Springvale Park (below) is beautiful. It has a big pond full of ducks and we regularly see geese and a blue heron here. After that, it was a short walk to Reynoldstown/Inman Park MARTA and a short ride back home.

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Peachtree Street, Midtown Atlanta

owlslovehamburgers: From a friend’s condo. Lookin right down #peachtree. #midtown #atlanta #placesyougoinatl #highrise

Beautiful photo of the Midtown section of Peachtree Street, facing south, as seen from a highrise window.
This view covers most of the Midtown Mile that runs from North Avenue to 15th Street. I like seeing the neat row of greenery from the trees and also the great patch of old low-rise buildings on the right, contrasting nicely with the towers.

Peachtree Street, Midtown Atlanta

owlslovehamburgers: From a friend’s condo. Lookin right down #peachtree. #midtown #atlanta #placesyougoinatl #highrise

Beautiful photo of the Midtown section of Peachtree Street, facing south, as seen from a highrise window.

This view covers most of the Midtown Mile that runs from North Avenue to 15th Street. I like seeing the neat row of greenery from the trees and also the great patch of old low-rise buildings on the right, contrasting nicely with the towers.