Happy New Year: 2019

It’s now 2019!

The incredulous exclamations (“Time just flies!” Where did the year go?” Etc.) are not just obligatory but also genuine! Decades now seem to be the more appropriate measure of geological time! That fourth dimension does in fact make the continued existence of this fossil record increasingly astonishing.

Urban Exploration Time

This morning I decided to drive around midtown to see what all has become of this area I once knew so well. You know things change over time, but, honestly, I was still shocked at the scope of the change.

The weather was heavily overcast with occasional light drizzle, yet a number of people were out. The glare intense, I wore my sunglasses which, combined with the heavy overcast, added a surreal tint to the already now somewhat-alien landscape. Hipsters and their infant children abound in the old midtown neighborhoods once occupied by the senior citizens I knew who lived there not too long ago. Talk about gentrification!

Electric scooters were flocked together in the midtown hoods when they weren’t actively being used by the 20-something crowds. Yes, this is a hip mode of transportation. I think it will be interesting to see if their popularity stands the test of time. The beltway was crowded with scooter use and lots of people walking.

Where once I felt at home in this part of town, today I was very much an outsider observing a vaguely familiar place. I saw the gay flag crosswalks for the first time. This entire midtown area is even more in-filled and densely populated than it was when I frequented it many years ago. What has changed most is the demographic: now nothing but 20-something youth and the hipster crowd with expensive baby carriages in tow.

Time Travel

I only saw a handful of restaurants that still remain from the old days: Eats, Flying Biscuit, Highland Tap, Murphy’s, and Surin of Thailand. I couldn’t tell if American Roadhouse was still open or not. It didn’t appear to be today. [Update: Nope. It has gone out of business and is being renovated into some Turkish eatery.

The beltway called to me, wanting me to do a bit of urban exploration, but I didn’t see a place to park.

When I first discovered midtown decades ago now, the area was filled with abandoned warehouses that were later torn down in an effort to rid the area of the homeless, vagrant drug users, and sex workers. The empty lots then sat vacant for decades. As many of the empty lots were converted into parking, parking in midtown was rarely an issue.

Back in the day the area was old and fairly undesirable, filled with the elderly and the gay, run down and in need of repair. No more! The stately old houses that were in disrepair have been replaced with dense urban housing. The finer homes have been remodeled. Skyscrapers abound. Only those with dual and/or really good incomes can afford to live here now. The apartments that once rented for a few hundred a month now rent for several thousand, and they rise on every corner. Years ago the elderly fled the relentless, unaffordable-on-a-fixed-income tax hikes and over-priced coffee.

Governance

I hear that people are flocking to Atlanta, well, to all of the big US cities. The urban setting is seen as affording employment and alternative transportation opportunities and options. Yet politically, these heavily populated and more liberal urban areas are under-represented in federal governance. The rural areas of the nation have more political influence but significantly less population. Interesting times for what was once our democracy but is now a rule by minority.