We love our city, we really do. Atlantans love Atlanta like a frazzled mother loves her slacker son, or like a woman loves the boyfriend mired in a dead-end job. It's a cautious love, but a love blind to the obvious drawbacks. The best remedy in times of Atlanta frustration — "Atlantastration?" — is a clean vantage point, a stranger's impressions of a familiar landscape. Ask a visitor his thoughts on the city and you'll instantly be reminded of the good. And you might just walk away with a new take on everything else. That, at least, is this post's humble purpose.
Emails to acquaintances who recently visited The Big Peach fetched the following responses. Remember that familiarity breeds ? if not contempt, at least myopia ? and it's always good to get a fresh perspective:
Punk rock guitarist; age 25; lives in Chicago; originally from Delaware
Our guest was astounded by the variety of plant life and the ability to smoke indoors (favorably), as well as by the ineptitude of the public transit system and compartmentalization of the city (unfavorably). He was annoyed at the ever-present construction that seemed to level historical buildings to make room for characterless glass high-rises. "In conclusion," he wrote me, "the Braves, white people, Waffle House, gays, meth."
Lawyer; mid-30s; lives in Philadelphia; originally from the Netherlands
Our guest's first visit to Atlanta fell on Election Day, so he voted in Philly in the morning and celebrated at Manuel's Tavern that night. He, too, appreciated our smoking freedom and was impressed by the abundance of trees and open spaces. He loved the Highland Inn, which looked to him exactly as old, charming Southern mansions should look. The next couple of days were spent hitting the quintessential spots like the Clermont Lounge and the Majestic, which struck him as gritty, disgusting and absolutely superb.
Foreign exchange student; early 20s; lives in New York City; originally from Ukraine
An early-summer stroll through Virginia-Highland that culminated in a picnic lunch at Piedmont Park convinced this guest that Atlanta is a superior city. She maintains she has never visited another American city as affordable and congenial as ours.
— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Maria Khodorkovs?ky
[Above photo: Renovation Church]