Last week I attended an Atlanta Legacy Makers reception unveiling the plan and designs for the new living art memorial set to be constructed in downtown’s Woodruff Park. The live art will memorialize the relationship between former mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson. While at the reception, I spoke with Maynard Jackson’s widow, Valerie Jackson, and she reminded me that both mayors had significant pride in how they left Atlanta regarding the skyline. Tall buildings and active downtowns are strong signals of energy and life in a city – and that could not have been more true with the dynamic display of art, makeup, and costume amongst the DragonCon attendees I weaved through to get to Constellations on Auburn Avenue. Regardless, it was a reminder that the skyline of our city is important and while it may not seem like we’ve had a major skyscraper in 30 years, all one has to do is drive down Spring Street or up West Peachtree to see the progress and development.
There are two, framed views of the skyline in our city I enjoy most that produce a surprising delight as they are unexpected but a friendly reminder we live in a thriving metropolis. The first is coming back from either a road trip or a flight from Hartsfield-Jackson. Once you round the curb out of Hapeville and distance yourself from airport parking, a two to three mile stretch of the skyline framed by Georgia pines reminds anyone traveling north on 85 there is a city on the horizon. The second is going south on Peachtree Street, after the conglomerate of beautiful churches aptly known as “Jesus Junction.” This view of the Atlanta skyline is my favorite – specifically when you round the corner running the Peachtree Road Race. It gives you a gentle reminder that progress has been made and the finish line is somewhere towards that skyline.
The saying “you don’t really miss something until it’s gone” rings true regarding this view for me. Between school and work commutes, I scale this part of the Peachtree Street spine multiple times a week and heading south, over the past few months, level by level, the new condo building being constructed has limited the view. This isn’t a drastic, modern day Cask of Amontillado scenario, but every week our skyline view coming down Peachtree street erodes with each floor. I don’t fault the new development. If we didn’t have growth and development in the first place, we wouldn’t have a skyline to admire. But, there are a few framed angles that surprise and delight nearly every time and this is one I’ll miss. Often times there is an expense to growth; I can only imagine the views blocked during the Allen and Jackson tenures as skyscrapers were going up much more often than today.