I’ve written before about how wonderful a tour can be when taken with a guide who can give you individual attention when exploring a new place. Only in a very small group can the guide take the time to answer all your questions as well as increase the potential to specifically design a tour to your likes and interests.
When I arrived in Atlanta last Friday I quickly realized that it had been years since I had been there and that I really did not know a lot about the city. Oh sure, I knew some things, like Gone with the Wind which did its best to highlight Sherman’s March to the Sea, and I knew about the Olympics being here. Oh, Coca Cola….I knew about that also. I knew Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church was here. Surely there were one or two more things. And sure enough, there were.
In Europe, the density of city development permits walking tours, and there are a few offered in Atlanta. But in order to get an overview of much of the downtown area, a tour on wheels is needed. So, I checked the weather forecast, asked the concierge for recommendations, and then trolled the internet looking at reviews. Since the forecast was iffy, I decided that (once again) I would forego the novel experience on a Segway and opted, instead for an electric cart tour with ATLCruzers.
When I first moved to Nashville in the mid 70s, everyone was raving about the Underground. Initially, the area had been the train station and depot next to one of the major rail lines coming into the City. As the train traffic became too disruptive, the street was elevated to cross the track, requiring the businesses to open entrances on what had been the second floor but had become the new street level. Hence, the former ground level became under the ground. The area was renovated at the end of the 1960s and became THE place to be for several decades. Steve reported that when the World of Coca Cola moved away from the neighborhood, visitors to the shopping/club/restaurant development dropped dramatically.
So then, after he put the side panels on to the electric car to keep us from getting wet, we headed out and we learned more about the vibrant Sweet Auburn Historic District. Born out of the Jim Crow laws that existed, the African American community in Atlanta built a vibrant community that continues to this day. Centered around several large churches, fraternal organizations and businesses, the neighborhood is livened by several clubs.
Residences in the area range in size. Some refurbished shotgun houses are near the home of Martin Luther King, Jr., now part of the US National Park system. His tomb is also nearby.
~~~~One of Steve’s fun questions was to have us guess how this structure was used? He asked: Was it a public urinal, a jail cell, or a nieghborhood bulletin board? We guessed wrong. It was a holding cell, nicknamed the Iron Maiden, for drunks and disorderlies to be held until the paddy wagon could come collect them and haul them to the jail downtown. Apparently there was enough of a problem that this was deemed a viable solution!
We went through other portions of the city. Oh my gosh, there are a lot of things to do and see in Atlanta.