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Atlanta’s seven most WTF moments of 2018

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As the city evolves, it’s experiencing some outlandish hiccups

A photo of a man riding a Bird scooter on the highway
E-scooter madness made a strong showing on this year’s list of Atlanta craziness.
Travis Salters/Emily Hoberman, via Atlanta City Council Twitter

Atlanta witnessed tremendous growth throughout 2018, and the docket for next year has plenty more in store for this ever-evolving city.

Of course, when any place changes so rapidly, there are bound to be plenty of eyebrow-raising moments along the way.

As this year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the more peculiar moments intowners—and some OTPers—experienced over the past 12 months.


Atlanta’s interstate was congested by cows

a picture of cops trying to catch cows
Police ultimately called in real cowboys to wrangle the cattle.
11Alive, Via YouTube

We’re all used to abysmally slow traffic on Atlanta’s roadways, but most of the time, that can be blamed on automobile congestion. In early October, however, motorists on Interstate-285 experienced a new highway phenomenon: runaway cattle.

In the middle of the night, a tractor-trailer ferrying dozens of cows along the I-75/285 connector flipped over, killed a handful of bovine, and sent many others in every direction.

The hubbub caused multiple accidents and led to the temporary closure of part of I-285, and it took authorities hours to wrangle all the loose livestock.


Downtown’s AT&T tower houses NSA spies?

A street view photo of the AT&T tower
Spies, they say, live among us.
Google Maps

It’s no secret the government, search engine operators, and social media giants are keeping tabs on anyone and everyone who surfs the web, but few Atlantans suspected that genuine spies work amidst us—until 2018.

At downtown’s AT&T tower, according to The Intercept, spies from the National Security Agency have an office—allegedly.

The (not so) secret spy hub is apparently tucked somewhere within the 51 Peachtree Center Avenue building, with more hubs in other big cities, such as Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and unsurprisingly, Washington, D.C


The ofo bikes that came and went

a photo of a man loading a bike into a truck
Ofo bikes are packed into a Bearings Bike Shop truck before they’re used for youth training.
Photos courtesy of Central Atlanta Progress

Atlanta is obviously on a major shareable mobility kick at the moment, and e-scooters have dominated the scene in recent months.

But what about good old-fashioned bicycles?

Well, China-based bike-share company ofo didn’t have much luck during it’s Atlanta foray.

Ofo bikes popped up around the city in July, and—even though it seems like the operation is globally successful—the company nixed its Atlanta efforts the month after.

Thankfully, ofo’s bright yellow two-wheelers didn’t go to waste; Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition teamed up with local nonprofits to incorporate the bikes into programs focused on cycle safety and maintenance.

Some of them were even given to youths after the training programs.


Bird scooter rider takes to the interstate

A photo of a man riding a Bird scooter on the highway
Atlanta’s most famous example of scooter misuse.
Travis Salters/Emily Hoberman, via Atlanta City Council Twitter

Since Birds touched down in Atlanta in May, locals have known the e-scooter craze was taking the city by storm. But a picture that went viral in early July sounded the alarm that city officials might need to do something about the explosive, unregulated trend.

The photo, which made major waves on Twitter—thanks in part to a share by the Atlanta City Council—showed a man cruising down Interstate 85 on a Bird scooter. Obviously, that’s not legal.

The image, however, has contributed to the demand for regulations for e-scooter use.

The Atlanta City Council is currently mulling legislation that could dictate where the vehicles can be ridden and parked, and how many can be in an operating company’s fleet.


Downtown’s beloved Brutalist library goes under the knife

A rendering of Cooper Carry’s design shows the windows cut into the side hulking concrete structure.
A rendering shows new windows at the downtown book house.
Cooper Carry

In the 1980s, renowned Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer crafted his last masterpiece, the Atlanta Fulton-County Central Library.

Best known as the Central Atlanta Library, the hulking block of a building erected just north of Woodruff Park has for years served students from Georgia State University and Georgia Tech, downtown businesspeople, and, often, the homeless.

But as the structure aged, calls for renovations came—after an unsuccessful attempt at total demolition. Preservationists haven’t cared for many of the proposed changes, such as plans to carve new windows into the facade.

Despite the efforts of protesters, the building closed in the summer to begin the $50 million update.


Dunwoody on track to become (almost) urban

The multi-use project is not what most expect when they think of Dunwoody.
Courtesy of Grubb Properties

Rarely is the City of Dunwoody mentioned in the same sentence as the word urbanizing.

But now, major developments have emerged left and right in this city at the north side of Atlanta’s I-285 Perimeter.

One example is the proposed Park at Perimeter Center East, which calls for a whopping 900 condos in four towers.

The project would also entail some 500,000 square feet of office space and a nearly three-acre green space replete with its own multi-use trail.

Elsewhere in Dunwoody this year, Boston-based developer GID’s High Street mini-city project finally got the green light, thanks to a partnership with real estate developer North American Properties.

Plans call for an 8 million-square-foot, transit-oriented community replete with an estimated 3,000 residences—1,500 apartments and 1,500 condos—400,000 square feet of retail, 400,000 square feet of office space, and some 400 hotel rooms near the Dunwoody MARTA Station.


Atlanta rapper T.I. becomes a real estate developer

Nearby, the Quarry Yards development promises hundreds of millions of dollars of new construction on the Westside.
Urban Creek

No doubt, hip-hop artist T.I. is an Atlanta staple, but most people don’t know him as a real estate developer.

Born Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., T.I. is of course not just another gentrifier; the rapper has spent $2.7 million of his own money to buy six properties in the Westside neighborhood Center Hill—where he grew up—in an effort to revive the area and keep it affordable for longtime residents.

Harris is working to transform the neighborhood into a mixed-use community that, by next year, could boast more than 100 residential units.

His vision also entails plans for a movie theater, a bowling alley, and a laser tag arena.