fairlie poplar

Fairlie-Poplar District, Atlanta, GA
by Blackthroated Blue

Great shot taken one block over from where I’m sitting in my office writing this. If you’re trying to place the POV, this is Fairlie Street over by Marietta Street, looking north at the back of the Beaux Arts courthouse and in the distance 191 Peachtree. The building this Deco lamp is set up isn’t actually Deco but a little older than that.

Bicyclist in a puddle reflection. Fairlie Street, Downtown Atlanta

I love seeing all the bike activity here amid the parking-dominated dead spaces. It makes me optimistic.

Consider this: the streets of Amsterdam and Copenhagen were once car-centric. Copenhagen in fact used to have masses of surface parking in the city center.

Those cities made a very intentional change, focusing their street designs toward transit, walking and cycling, more so than toward car flow and parking.

The same thing can happen elsewhere. US cities like Atlanta are not special snowflakes that are somehow incapable of these same changes.

Yes, Atlanta will never be Amsterdam. Yes Atlanta’s urban fabric largely grew during the car era unlike old European cities. But there is a LOT of middle ground between status-quo-Atlanta and walkable Amsterdam that we can occupy.

Just because we can’t reach the highest level of urban-mobility balance that exists doesn’t mean we can’t reach a level that is significantly higher than where we are now.


Parking Day and street scenes, Downtown Atlanta

I went out on my lunch to see the Parking Day setup on Peachtree Street near Five Points. Several groups, including nearby art galleries Eyedrum & Mammal, pitched in to create a beach party with a pool of water, sand, a hot dog stand, a DJ and dancers. It was freakin’ awesome.

On the way there, I couldn’t stop taking photos of my Fairlie-Poplar neighborhood. Tons of people were out, walking around in the great early autumn weather. And I was happy to get some shots of our great canopy of trees before the leaves fall.

The Maxwell R. Berry House sat at Walton and Forsyth Streets in the heart of what’s now the Fairlie Poplar District.  Given its Italianate architecture I’d say this guy made it through the Civil War unscathed, only to come down as the area around it went from residential to dense commercial.  Downtown Atlanta, GA

Broad Street, Downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Looking north on the west side of the street. Photo by Wendy Darling.

Broad Street is broad even today, although the actual road is a one-way with parallel parking on one side. The “broad” part is the sidewalks, which include large tree planters. I believe the sidewalks and trees went in 30 yrs. ago or so; prior to that the street was at least two lanes and possibly wider, as there might have been a lane for the trolley. These days the breath of the sidewalks allows for a lot of outdoor dining.

Mixed-use, the organic way

I was looking at that last photo I posted and it occurred to me what a great mix of uses there is in this view of Downtown Atlanta from Forsyth Street.

We’ve got: the residential Healey Building, the 191 & Equitable office towers, the Rialto theater, the court house, the GSU music school and the Ritz hotel — and ground-level retail & restaurants all around the Equitable and Healey buildings.

It’s an exciting mix to live in, particularly since it evolved in such an organic and gradual way over the years.


My favorite neighborhood street

This never fails to cure a bad day: an evening walk on Poplar Street in Downtown Atlanta. The top photo is of the alley outside Sidebar and the bottom photo is the inside of Slice Pizza, which looks out onto the intersection of Fairlie and Poplar.

These two restaurants are open most every night and it’s comforting, while passing by, to peek through the windows and see people sitting at the bar, drinking and chatting — and also to see the warm lights inside and out that contrast nicely with cold winter air. Overhead are apartments with students living inside and all around are offices, which makes the place seem alive with assorted uses.

I walk through this street most every day on my way home and particularly enjoy the narrowness of it — this is a pre-automobile width that lets you immediately know how long the roadway has been around.

It has a classic old-city feel. You can squint your eyes and pretend you’re in NYC or Paris and momentarily forget the car traffic on large multilane roads surrounding the neighborhood. Instead of using the sidewalk, I like to walk right down the middle of Poplar and imagine that this is a shared street, intended for use by pedestrians, cyclists and motorists equally.

Every neighborhood needs a street like this.