We're a month into 2015, and this already looks to be a big year for Atlanta. With a slew of cultural projects slated to open, PATH400 providing a new means of traversing Buckhead and transformative developments rising from Decatur to Doraville, it's almost like 2014 up in here. But to put some perspective on all the growth, it seemed like the right time to look back a decade, to a fairly different city. You might not realize it, but 2005 was a pretty big deal around here.
A decade ago, Atlanta was different, in ways small and large. Justin Bieber was an unknown 11-year-old Canadian who didn't yet own a house in Atlanta (but he was on his way), Mayor Shirley Franklin and her Pothole Posse were being super badass — so badass, in fact, that she was the first sitting mayor in history to receive the Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2005 — and the Atlanta Beltline was first incorporated. That year, the city went through a major rebranding effort, adopting the motto "Every Day is an Opening Day" and releasing that obnoxious A-T-L jingle — which will now be stuck in your head the rest of the day. Fittingly, there were many openings in the city.
2005 saw the opening of Atlantic Station on the site of the old Atlantic Steel Mill. The redevelopment of the long-abandoned brownfield site sparked major development on the west side of the Brookwood Interchange, and most importantly brought an IKEA to Atlanta. Atlanta gained a world record and a hell of a lot of fish when the Georgia Aquarium opened at Pemberton Place, across from Centennial Olympic Park. It was the first major attraction to open in the area following the opening of the park for the 1996 Olympics, and the area has since become a major cultural center for the city.
In the residential realm, 2005 saw the completion of Spire Midtown at 7th and Peachtree streets, filling in the gap left behind by the demolition of the Atlanta Cabana Motel. While not the first high rise condo on Peachtree in Midtown, the opening paved the way for many subsequent buildings in the surrounding blocks over the next decade. The pace of development in the area, slowed by the Great Recession, is once again ramping up with the recent site prep for Seventh. Finally, south of the city, the planned community Serenbe opened in May 2005. The bucolic farm utopia is still growing a decade later.
While we'd all love to go back to a Bieber-free Atlanta, with all the progress the city has made in the last decade, it's probably best to not wish away the changes. Much has happened in Atlanta in 10 years, and it's almost certain the pace of change will only quicken in the years to come.
· A Guide to Atlanta's Biggest Cultural Debuts of 2015 [Curbed Atlanta]
· Re-Branding the City of Atlanta [NPR]