Yesterday, our friends at Creative Loafing posted an opinion piece titled “Atlanta’s Not a World Class City,” in which Mr. Matt Garbett listed a few gripes about Atlanta, chief among them that we do not deserve to list ourselves among the great metropoles. Well.
Here’s Mr. Garbett on “world-class city:”
“Our focus on this meaningless phrase and the “iconic,” “transformative,” and “catalytic” projects that we hope will thrust us into some elite group distracts us from — and often runs roughshod over — the smaller, necessary, and more rewarding local projects that create vibrant neighborhoods, the true lifeblood of any world-class city.”
Yes! We must get way from meaningless buzzwords! Except, of course, for “vibrant.”
Do we compare with New York? Are we better than Charlotte? What about San Francisco? If you ask this Atlantan — and I say this as a lifelong Southerner who prides himself on door openings and yes ma’ams — fuck ’em.
New York is a great city. London, Paris, Charlotte, Nashville, and on down to the tiny town of Opp, Alabama with it’s famous Rattlesnake Rodeo, we’re all great in some ways and a bit crap in others. But you don’t improve by looking around. You improve by looking within.
Do we sprawl? Sure. Our metro area is something like 8 thousand square miles. New York’s is over 11 thousand. “Well, that’s different,” you might say. Exactly. Everything’s different!
Mr. Garbett wants us to be insecure, and then turn that insecurity into disdain for other cities:
We are competing with Charlotte, Nashville, or Dallas.
We’re really not. When we started work on the Beltline, was it after we ripped it from Dallas’s cowboy grip? No. Did we have to mud wrestle Charlotte for the right to nearly complete the streetcar? (Just busting your chops, Streetcar folks. I can’t wait.) No. We didn’t. When we failed to build proper rail transit, was it because Nashville convinced Cobb and Gwinnett not to hop aboard? No.
It was we who succeeded and failed; we who will succeed or fail tomorrow. But we can’t build a community on pining to be like New York. Nor is it right to be smug toward cities we feel are lesser by a given metric.
So, if you’ll forgive me the coarse language of a proud Atlantan who is a bit wounded that our beloved alt weekly would strike at us so, I say fuck New York and LA too. ATL for me and you.