The Curbed Cup, Curbed Atlanta's annual Neighborhood of the Year tournament, launches today with eight seeds vying for our sacred fake trophy. Slotting was determined by preliminary voting (apologies to East Atlanta, Virginia-Highland, etc. but no one nominated you). Each 'hood squares off in a series of one-on-one matchups. Voting for each contest will close in the wee hours of the following day. We'll showcase two first-round contests per day through the week with results reviewed on Friday. Let the eliminations begin!
Old Fourth Ward:
The Old Fourth Ward garnered six times more Curbed Cup 2012 nominations than its closest rival. That could be the result of genuine civic pride or adroit back-room politicking; either way, it's easy to understand the enthusiasm for an eclectic, rapidly evolving neighborhood described by the New York Times as "a cradle of culinary and artistic innovation and ... a symbol of gentrification, with a more racially mixed population." The 17-acre namesake park and nearby skatepark are an inspiration for communities across metro Atlanta, while the Eastside Trail is an obvious catalyst for life-injecting development, to include Ponce City Market and hundreds upon hundreds of apartments. Elsewhere, the slow rejuvination of Edgewood as a true dining/nightlife destination continues; proactive measures to revitalize Boulevard are ongoing; and the city's first streetcar loop will wend through O4W's southwestern flank. One drawback is that certain pockets still qualify as blight.
O4W's geographic neighbor lands as its Round 1 rival. History runs deep in Cabbagetown (it's listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places). Through the ages, the tight-knit, gritty pride of this former mill town has propelled it through a series of challenges like joblessness, a damaging fire and that menacing 2008 tornado. Famed for graffiti murals (and one surreptitious attack against taggers), Cabbagetown is chockfull of charming shotgun houses, farmhouse Victorians, innovative lofts, and it boasts a tranquil centerpiece park. Its watering holes retain the convivial, neighborly vibe of a Cheers rerun, and the Carroll Street Cafe capsulizes the Atlanta brunch experience. Outsiders find troublesome the occasional instances of high-profile crime (bizarre front-porch kidnappings, brazen rapper shootings), which like too much of Atlanta can lead to an uneasiness while walking at night.