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City Comparison: Atlanta v. Houston

Well, choose your favorite.

  • Atlanta, GA

    Votes: 16 26.7%
  • Houston, TX

    Votes: 4 6.7%
  • The prospect of choosing one makes me want to cry.

    Votes: 40 66.7%

  • Total voters
    60

ilikefish0

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
If you're from New Orleans you harbor a lot of resentment against both of these cities, hence the third option.
To quote the party line, Atlanta has no soul, and Houston has all the jobs.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
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6,377
Points
29
Thank you for the last option, none of the above would work for me thats for damn sure.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
I was born and reared in ATL. it used to have soul. :(
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I stayed a week in downtown Atlanta. Talk about lifeless! On Sunday morning I walked a half hour looking for any open shops, and eventually had to drive twenty miles to find a drug store. Houston? Well, it's just Houston, that's all.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
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24
Michael Stumpf said:
I stayed a week in downtown Atlanta. Talk about lifeless! On Sunday morning I walked a half hour looking for any open shops, and eventually had to drive twenty miles to find a drug store. Houston? Well, it's just Houston, that's all.
But if you had stayed in Mid-town, Buckhead, or Lenox square you would of found the urban atmosphere you were looking for. Downtown isn’t always downtown :)
 

giovannitp

Cyburbian
Messages
28
Points
2
Little Five Points has more soul than downtown Atlanta (and Buckhead, in some respects.)

Building a aquarium next to Centennial Park isn't going to help much either.
 

H

Cyburbian
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2,850
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giovannitp said:
Little Five Points has more soul than downtown Atlanta (and Buckhead, in some respects.)

Building a aquarium next to Centennial Park isn't going to help much either.
True, little 5 is great. My stepsister (to be) lives there. I used to live in Virginia Highlands for a while and it used to have soul too, but I think that is changing.

And cities in the SE and Aquariums…. I shouldn’t get started….
 

LouisvilleSlugger

Cyburbian
Messages
216
Points
9
Huston said:
But if you had stayed in Mid-town, Buckhead, or Lenox square you would of found the urban atmosphere you were looking for. Downtown isn’t always downtown :)
I liked Mid-town the most. I thought it was a neat place. up and coming. with its faults but charming in a way. it had a nice character yet it was still evolving and trying to find its identity.
 

Michele Zone

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7,657
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29
I have never wanted to live in Atlanta. I was born and raised in Georgia and have been to Atlanta a number of times, usually with my sister (and she moved there a few years ago -- I actually went out to visit once she moved there). But I just never took to the place.

I used to live in Texas and for a long time hated it. Then I spent many years wishing I could return (if only because we homeschool and Texas applies their super independent 'don't mess with texans' streak to homeschooling as well: completely legal and completely 'hands off,' as far as state regs).

But, these days, I would have to vote C.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Michele Zone said:
...I was born and raised in Georgia....
May I ask where in GA you grew up?

…me in Atlanta, but I know the entire state fairly well.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Hrmm. I hope the kids are getting a ton of social exposure. I've known a few homeschooled people and they generally are terrible at handling themselves in social situations...
 

Michele Zone

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Huston said:
May I ask where in GA you grew up?

…me in Atlanta, but I know the entire state fairly well.
I was born and raised in Columbus. I was in Germany briefly as a 'baby' (not sure the age I was -- maybe a year old to 2 years old or something like that).

Dad was career military and nearly died in Vietnam. They put it in his papers that he was to never go back. Then they cut him orders to go back, when I was about 3 years old, and we happened to be at Ft. Benning. He fought it -- went all the way up to a General, who told him "Yer goin". He said 'The hell I am' -- and my dad didn't talk like that. He had 26 1/2 years in the army at that point and dropped his retirement papers.

So, mom and dad rushed around real fast and bought a house while he still officially had a full pay check. They owned that house something like 26 years (seems to be a 'magic number' for dad). So that is the house I lived in from age 3 until I married.

Naturally, I married a guy going into the army (Ft Benning: "Home of the Infantry" -- guess what my husband's MOS is!) so that I could get the hell out of there. That seems to be a common path out of there for girls.

My other possible path was the National Merit Scholarship to UGA that I turned down. My older sister accepted hers. She has lived all over Georgia -- Ft. Valley, Macon (?), Warner Robbins, Atlanta, Athens, Augusta -- and STILL has not escaped the state, even though she was about 11 years old when she got the heartbreaking news that we were never going to move again, they owned that house. She has wanted out for more than 30 years and cannot seem to escape. So, I figure I had a more solid Plan and I have no regrets.

Gee -- did you REALLY want to know that much about me?
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Michele Zone said:
I was born and raised in Columbus....
ahhh, home of Country's BBQ! I filled out a comment card there once and recieved a christmas card from them for the next 5 years. good eats.

sounds like your not very fond to the state, it has its good and bad, as most places do.

glad you where able to 'escape' :)
 

Michele Zone

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jordanb said:
Hrmm. I hope the kids are getting a ton of social exposure. I've known a few homeschooled people and they generally are terrible at handling themselves in social situations...


Don't ever tell a homeschooler their kids need 'socialization'. We hear this from absolutely everybody and we have very snarky conversations about the pathetic social skills of kids who attend public school and learn how to become bullies and shoot randomly into crowds when they are having a bad day.

Speaking of social skills: this is a PLANNING forum. I consider it to be incredibly rude and disrespectful for you to volunteer parenting advice to me. You have never met my kids. Or me, for that matter. Implying that you know what is best for my kids better than I do is a faux pas of such grand proportion that the multi-paragraph screed I initially wrote as a reply (and I hope no one saw, since it is Sunday) is minor by comparison.

Mod note: You are both getting darn close to flames, relax and play nice.
 
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Michele Zone

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Huston said:
ahhh, home of Country's BBQ! I filled out a comment card there once and recieved a christmas card from them for the next 5 years. good eats.

sounds like your not very fond to the state, it has its good and bad, as most places do.

glad you where able to 'escape' :)
It has its good points and bad points -- including several relatives of mine. ;)

I became far fonder of the state when I would go back to visit than I was growing up in it. If I had been raised by different parents, I might not have found the place so dreadful. I found out things about Columbus after I left that I never knew existed while I lived there. I also have dreadful allergies in Georgia. I am rather fond of breathing. Sorry. It makes me a tad biased against locales that interfere with that hobby of mine. I know, I know, it's a pathetic excuse! ;)
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Michele Zone said:
We hear this from absolutely everybody and we have very snarky conversations about the pathetic social skills of kids who attend public school and learn how to become bullies and shoot randomly into crowds when they are having a bad day.
What exactly is snarky? Can you get it at Snark.com? :)
 

Michele Zone

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Chet said:
What exactly is snarky? Can you get it at Snark.com? :)
"snarky" is a word I picked up here. So maybe I am not even using it correctly. Let's just say that homeschoolers get sick of being stereotyped -- especially homeschoolers like me who get pegged as 'religious fundamentalists' solely because we homeschool, when religion has nothing whatsoever to do with it. It is a personal decision and one not made lightly. People who don't homeschool cannot imagine what our lives are like and that type of 'ignorance' (as in simply "not knowing", I am not calling anyone stupid) is fertile ground for all kinds of misperceptions.

Since I did pro bono professional work in this area at one time and I have a certain amount of specialized training and my kids have special needs, a thorough explanation of the situation is A) not something I care to give as 'justification' for my choices to someone jumping to conclusions based on absolutely no evidence B) a violation of the privacy of my kids if posted to a forum as public and open as this one, and C) too complex and lengthy and 'off topic' to be appropriate to this forum.

snark.com was a tad amusing. However, the "Satan on ice" reference was not nearly as funny as what I thought it would be. There is a college paper that gets passed around cyberspace (I have recieved it twice, from different sources) where some physics professor has one question on his final exam: Is hell endothermic or exothermic? Pick one and write a proof.

Apparently, the only 'A' paper he ever got was where a guy 'proves' that hell is (whichever he picked -- physics is not my strong suite) by saying, at the end of his paper, that he knew hell had not yet frozen over because he still had not slept with the girl who told him 'When hell freezes over'. It is a fabulous Proof. I wish I still had a copy of it.
 
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green lizard

Member
Messages
133
Points
6
Michele Zone said:
[BLet's just say that homeschoolers get sick of being stereotyped --
[/B]
There are some words that invoke righteous reaction
on Cyburbia....
Avoid the following topics for a pleasent experience...

Wallmart
SUV's
anything religious (or Amish)
home schooling
Wendel Cox

The list is really much longer.

As planners we think we are opened minded. But we
tend to sterotype as much as anyone else. We just
can't seem to be honest about it.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
19,482
Points
44
hmmmm... no one picked Houston, few picked Atlanta, and most think that the should have both burned to the ground. (But this time, not rebuilt)
 

ilikefish0

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
Anyone see the episode of futurama where Atlanta tows itself into the middle of the ocean so it could be coastal and then sinks......

Seriously, though, there may be no place like the midwest, but at the very least we could replace Houston and Atlanta with REAL southern cities (read New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis etc. [heck, i'd even settle for the likes of Baton Rouge and Shreveport]). Sigh. Somehow this unholy duo is a black hole for southern population. People keep moving there. Make it stop, please. It does seem as if Houston has been singled out as the true "unholy one" in this battle.


(Someone notify me when Houston's next "outer belt" is planned to cut through downtown Dallas--that seems to be where they're headed)
 

LouisvilleSlugger

Cyburbian
Messages
216
Points
9
green lizard said:
There are some words that invoke righteous reaction
on Cyburbia....
Avoid the following topics for a pleasent experience...

Wallmart
SUV's
anything religious (or Amish)
home schooling
Wendel Cox

The list is really much longer.

As planners we think we are opened minded. But we
tend to sterotype as much as anyone else. We just
can't seem to be honest about it.
Now we have reached a moment of truth..finally..after all this wranging back and forth. Your so right on the money with this!!! I have noticed this as well. Its not a matter of all of us stereotyping but many just won't even admit their own biases or agendas.
 

Michele Zone

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29
I don't know about Houston but it is my understanding that Atlanta has grown so much in part because it isn't 'bounded' in any way -- politically or geographically. It is not on the edge of a state or on the coast. So folks just kept moving to 'the country' or 'the suburbs' until the city came to see them out there.

For a time, my sister lived something like 1 mile from the sky scrapers in a place that was officially an unincorporated part of 'the county'. There were folks on her street that had septic tanks but you would have never known you were in 'the country' by looking around you. There was an ongoing battle, going back something like a dozen years last time I heard (so probably still going on and longer than that now) about whether to let the city of Atlanta officially annex them or to incorporate as their own little town under their own little name.

Weird stuff. But basically this used to be 'the country' and the old timers who still lived there didn't want to give in to being swallowed up by the city, and don't confuse them with the facts. They were resisting allowing some 2 lane road to be widened because they objected to the traffic. Well, widening the road would ease the traffic. The traffic was unlikely to go away.

A builder applied for a variance to build more houses per acre. Denied. So his solution was to build the biggest mansions he could build in order to make the amount of money he wanted to make and would have been happy to make on more 'normal' sized homes if he had been allowed to build more of them. It would have done less harm to the character of the neighborhood to have houses similar in size and price on smaller lots than to encourage gentrification to a neighborhood of mansions. But you couldn't tell that to the folks there who wanted to 'preserve the old neighborhood'.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
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29
Atlanta aka dekalb co. cant annex anything they are built out and are boxed in by other towns/cities. What will be limiting the growth of ATL now is water, or lack there of and Fed highway funds.

the Metro area has grown sprawl wild for years with no overall growth plan or communication between the 13 counties. Their own boom times has led to their problems not to mention its just hard as hell to GET anywhere.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
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25
PlannerGirl said:
Atlanta aka dekalb co. cant annex anything they are built out and are boxed in by other towns/cities. What will be limiting the growth of ATL now is water, or lack there of and Fed highway funds.

the Metro area has grown sprawl wild for years with no overall growth plan or communication between the 13 counties. Their own boom times has led to their problems not to mention its just hard as hell to GET anywhere.
You're right on the money about the water situation there. A few months ago there was a holy stink when the water authority(s) in metro Atlanta wanted to tap into lakes and rivers (one being the Chatooga) on the Georgia, South Carolina line. Almost all towns in Upstate SC, including Greenville, draw from these water sheds and such a uproar was raised in SC that Atlanta dropped its plans...for now. I guess they'll have to steal it from Tennessee now.
 

PlannerGirl

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Messages
6,377
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29
Yes Alabama and ATL just got out of a fight in court over water. I belive the court said how much water ATL could take from the Chatahoochee river and how much they had to leave for Alabama.

Water rights (and air problems) are going to be a serious issue for Atlanta for a long time.


I used to love the city, now Id rather go to hell than Atlanta.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,916
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52
Atlanta - hub and HQ for Delta Air Lines
Houston - hub and HQ for Continental Airlines
 

New2daGame

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
I've been to both Atlanta and Houston -- several visits to Atlanta and one visit to Houston.

Actually, I like Atlanta. I suppose my affinity for Atlanta is more cultural and social than anything, being black.

Neither metro area has any serious physical limitations to development. I didn't see so much of this in Houston when I went (2001), but there's definately a significant wave of urban development taking place in Atlanta. Townhomes and condos are going up everywhere -- starting to create a more dense city. I don't know much about the "old" Atlanta, but my experience with the city is that it's very pretentious. It's very image conscious, but I like it.

Houston is what Atlanta was heading toward, but I think Atlanta is now attempting to go in the right direction. The flat terrain of Houston just makes it even worst, to me. I'd take Atlanta over Houston.

BTW, speaking our outer rings, I've read about the proposed new outer ring for the Atlanta region to be built, beginning with the Northern Arc. I know there's strong opposition to this.

There's one other thing that gets me about Atlanta. There's a lot of opposition in the suburbs to the extension of MARTA beyond I-285. I think a massave expansion of MARTA inside and beyond the I-285 would definately help ease congestion. I think people would ride if they saw it as a safe, convenient alternative to driving.
 
Messages
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I spent a entire xmas vacation in Atlanta once in grad school. I think it's overrated. In my opinion, its the Bizarro Balt.-Wash. region. I can't put my finger on it, but something was just missing. I've never been to Houston. From what I heard, I don't think I'll like it. My cousin's wife was telling me over thanksgiving that she has a 1.5 hour suburb-to-suburb commute. This is after getting up at 4:30AM. :-c
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
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5,677
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28
Okay, so far I'm the only vote for Houston. What gives??

My sister went to GaTech, and I visited Atlanta several times. I've lived in Houston for a year. Both places are difficult to get around in, are growing and have water issues. But I like the feel of Houston over Atlanta.

I'm not saying that Houston is great. IMHO it's better than Atlanta.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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Messages
7,342
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31
OK, I'll admit it. I'm the other Houston vote.

I've been to ATL a couple of times in my life, and really just don't like the town.

Houston, even with all of its problems, still wins the battle with ATL. Yes, traffic sucks--but it sucks in every sunbelt city. Houston is trying like hell to do some new stuff, including light rail and TODs. It's doing a somewhat respectable job of making downtown a destination again. I also have to wonder if some of the more unique aspects of H-town would be there if zoning had been implemented like everywhere else.

My god, I can't believe I'm defending Houston. :-c

Both places suck, but Houston sucks less.
 
Messages
11
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1
Georgia Boy

Okay, so I was born and raised in Atlanta...maybe that makes me biased. However, for all of its shortcomings, I see Atlanta as a place with much potential. I don't, however, see it as a place with no soul. True, the CBD stays true to its name and not much else goes on there, but the fringe neighborhoods like Inman Park are amazing. Midtown is the closest thing to an active downtown that Atlanta has. There is transit, and while it is underutilized, it is very effective, clean and safe. Atlanta has gained economic prosperity from the sunbelt regions nearly unchecked growth, but that has also presented major planning issues in the suburbs which have led to major issues with downtown. As much as I can say it, I want to live in Atlanta, I want to be a planner in Atlanta, and I want to make a difference in one of America's few very large cities with enormous potential. There's my two cents (actually, all I have is a penny...)
 
Messages
101
Points
6
Ahh ... I've been out of the loop for a long time, and it's good to know the national focus on Atlanta is still alive and strong. All through the seventies and into the early eighties a whole cottage industry churned out hundreds of articles about what an irredeemable sinking ship NYC was. I loved NYC and Atlanta both at the time, and I love them both now. And by the way, anyone travelling twenty miles out from Five Points would have to pass dozens of drug stores beginning at the one mile mark. If you'd like I'll rattle off a list.

For more musings on Atlanta, I've begun updating my blog again at

http://larryfeltonjohnson.typepad.com
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
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25
nuovorecord said:
Hey, you could have a lucrative career in tourism with that kind of thinking! :D ;-)
Isn't Houston's newest ad campaign something like "this place is so good we don't mind putting up with the heat, smog, cockroaches, and floods" or something like that? :-o
 
Messages
1,264
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I liked the Inman Park neighborhood. It kind of reminded me of Takoma Park outside of DC. I spent a pretty penny on records in a couple stores near the MARTA station.
 
Messages
101
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6
the north omaha star said:
I liked the Inman Park neighborhood. It kind of reminded me of Takoma Park outside of DC. I spent a pretty penny on records in a couple stores near the MARTA station.

If you liked Inman Park you'd probably like West End or Grant Park as well. I have photo albums of both. Here are the URLs:

http://larryfeltonjohnson.typepad.com/photos/west_end/

http://larryfeltonjohnson.typepad.com/photos/grant_park/

My own street, Haas Avenue in East Atlanta has some houses of similar form too, but not in the quantity of Grant Park, Inman Park or West End:

I have a few shots of them at

http://larryfeltonjohnson.typepad.com/photos/haas_avenue/

There are actually many neighborhoods in Atlanta worth visiting.

Planderella said:
Welcome back Larry. I'm sorry to hear about your wife.
Thanks. It's been rough.
 

teshadoh

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437
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13
I'll second the welcome back Larry (I'm Brad by the way). But I'll actually post something here, which I've debated doing because I generally avoid the "WTF is the matter with that city?" arguements.

But here goes - I like Atlanta, but I can't & won't defend it. As I wouldn't expect anyone who lives in Manhatten to defend Levittown or a Chicagoan to defend the majority of Chicago. But beyond that, Atlanta isn't for everyone. It's much smaller than any of the similiarly sized metros, & I suppose I like that. I like laid back southern towns, & in my neighborhood that's how it feels. I like walking through the cemetary, watching the trains go by, eating at a nearby bbq joint & drinking beer in a neighbor's backyard. It truly is a city of neighborhoods - which explains why downtown is mostly a ghost town, even with our mega fish tank being built. But if you don't like streetcar suburbs, then you won't like Atlanta. 'Urban Atlanta' has more in common with what Chicagoans consider the suburbs - like Oak Park.

But the real question is - despite Atlanta not being nearly as nice as most large US cities, especially in comparison with non-sunbelt cities - should Atlanta be judged by it's suburbs whereas most great cities aren't? Are we truly being non-biased & analytical when bitching about Atlanta - when most cases you're complaining about it's spawl. Yet not consider that in reality - every city in the US is a Phoenix AZ or Houston TX.

Because guess all of you are soaking in? That's sprawl. I'm sure your sprawl is nicer than Atlanta's sprawl.

It's not that I don't disagree that comparably to similiarly sized cities - Atlanta is inferior in most regards. It's the hypocrisy of pointing fingers at a city & thus absolving all other cities of their sprawl, that bugs me a bit. While we're at it - let's debate over which dictator is the least offensive - Hitler, Stalin, or Pinochet?

Ok, I promise I'll get off my soapbox now. Atlanta's not far my favorite city, but it's not nearly as bad as most like to call it.
 
Messages
101
Points
6
teshadoh said:
I'll second the welcome back Larry (I'm Brad by the way). But I'll actually post something here, which I've debated doing because I generally avoid the "WTF is the matter with that city?" arguements.

But here goes - I like Atlanta, but I can't & won't defend it. As I wouldn't expect anyone who lives in Manhatten to defend Levittown or a Chicagoan to defend the majority of Chicago. But beyond that, Atlanta isn't for everyone. It's much smaller than any of the similiarly sized metros, & I suppose I like that. I like laid back southern towns, & in my neighborhood that's how it feels. I like walking through the cemetary, watching the trains go by, eating at a nearby bbq joint & drinking beer in a neighbor's backyard. It truly is a city of neighborhoods - which explains why downtown is mostly a ghost town, even with our mega fish tank being built. But if you don't like streetcar suburbs, then you won't like Atlanta. 'Urban Atlanta' has more in common with what Chicagoans consider the suburbs - like Oak Park.

But the real question is - despite Atlanta not being nearly as nice as most large US cities, especially in comparison with non-sunbelt cities - should Atlanta be judged by it's suburbs whereas most great cities aren't? Are we truly being non-biased & analytical when bitching about Atlanta - when most cases you're complaining about it's spawl. Yet not consider that in reality - every city in the US is a Phoenix AZ or Houston TX.

Because guess all of you are soaking in? That's sprawl. I'm sure your sprawl is nicer than Atlanta's sprawl.

It's not that I don't disagree that comparably to similiarly sized cities - Atlanta is inferior in most regards. It's the hypocrisy of pointing fingers at a city & thus absolving all other cities of their sprawl, that bugs me a bit. While we're at it - let's debate over which dictator is the least offensive - Hitler, Stalin, or Pinochet?

Ok, I promise I'll get off my soapbox now. Atlanta's not far my favorite city, but it's not nearly as bad as most like to call it.

Hi, Brad. I'm glad to be back. Part of the reason for my often combatative seeming responses about Atlanta is that people often judge the city based on a combination of some conference they attended at the World Congress Center, visiting an aunt in Alpharetta, or reading the current common wisdom on the city. Granted Atlanta isn't Paris,
but then again neither is Cleveland.

I was once dropped off near Hastings Street in Vancouver, on a weekday evening (in the rain, which makes the story worse -- but is irrelevant to my point) by a cab driver with a sadistic streak who assured me that I could find a place to exchange money and find a means of getting to my destination (which turned out to be out near Burnaby). For whatever reason, the section of the city I landed in was shut down solid. No open stores, many empty buildings, and the only signs of life I saw were a few people sleeping in doorways. Map in hand I walked for what seemed like miles before I felt I was in a live city. Now anyone with any knowledge of the place knows that Vancouver isn't a ghost town.

But if I hadn't made an effort to explore the whole city at different times of day, ask locals where interesting destinations were, and done a little active research, I could have left the city assuming that Vancouver is a dead empty city, inhabited only by derelicts (it's not like Burnaby would have given me the impression of a hyperurban environment either).

I spent six months in NYC in the early eighties, and despite the repuation of the city as never sleeping, there were many offhours dead spots in the city.

I'm not advancing this to claim that Atlanta and NYC are comparable. But many of the criticisms of Atlanta are really applicable to parts of the most urban of U.S. cities, and when you begin moving down the urban food chain I'd stack up intown Atlanta against many of the mid tier cities in terms of those traits which people ascribe to urban environments (street life, walkabiltiy, public transit efficacy and usage). I mean , how lively is downtown Buffalo or Akron on a Sunday morning?
 

teshadoh

Suspended Bad Email Address
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437
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13
Well, I'm glad to have ridden myself of my temper tantrum - but needless comparisons too often become more derogatory than helpful. A city is a sum of it's total parts, and though Atlanta may not add up greatly - particularly considering it's metro size - a great number of Atlanta's parts are wonderful.
 
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