Panorama of my town

Panorama of my town

Monday, January 16, 2012

Street Cars in Downtown Atlanta- YES!!

As a young child this ATL Gal lived on Peachtree St. in what is now referred to as the historic ‘Margaret Mitchell House’ but my family had always called it 'The Dump'. Insiders at the time actually knew it as ‘The Palazzo’ but that is a story for another time. I don’t remember much of those days myself except brief snippets of memories - just pictures in my mind’s eye. I can see out our apartment window on the ground floor facing Cresent Ave. covered by a deep blanket of shiny white snow making everything look like the fairy tale landscape from one of my books.

I don’t remember street cars on Peachtree. They were gone in 1962 when I lived on Peachtree. But my mom remembers them. She remembers riding them and the sound of the clanging bells and screeching brakes and the wires overhead as she hopped one to take her to work. I have no memory of any of that. Oh, but I am so very excited about the idea that they are coming back to Peachtree St.  I may not have ever seen street cars in Atlanta but I have seen them in Barcelona, Spain and in Geneva, Switzerland and they are AWESOME cool!!

Resident use them, Tourists adore them. Car drivers maneuver smoothly around and beside them. I never took a taxi while I was in either city – we took transit to almost everywhere, at almost any time. Barcelona, a huge sprawling city with thick air and life that ebbs and flow 24 hours a day with the tide of millions of people in cars and taxis, on motorcycles and scooters, zipping and skimming all over a bustling and brightly lit town has a fantastic metro system. It was a thrill to ride trains and trams that took me and millions living and visiting the city anywhere we needed to go. It was reasonably priced, clean, safe and on time. Brilliant!! The entire time I kept saying to my friend ‘Atlanta could to this, too!!’

Geneva could not be more different from Barcelona than night is from day. It is a quaint town with crisp air, surrounded by villages on hills and embraced on all sides by the most breathtaking, snow topped, mountains I have ever seen. Streets are narrow and sidewalks wide, but it has one thing in common with Barcelona, a tram system that gets its residents and tourist where they need to go – anywhere, anytime. It too is brilliant and I kept saying to my friend ’Atlanta could do this, too!’ I sounded like a broken record as we traipsed all over Europe and never had to rent a car.

Don't pay attention to naysayers and people with no vision for our beautiful City’s future. I close my eyes and can see street cars on Peachtree St and Edgewood Ave (once again). I can imagine the day when we have an urban Streetcar system that takes City residents and tourist anywhere, anytime, just like I enjoyed in Europe. The decision to build such a system has nothing to do with size of our city today. It has everything to do with the needs of citizens of Atlanta and our children's tomorrows. We all have the same need, same as Barcelonans, same as the Genua, we need reliable inner-city public transit. We need leaders with vision and the backbone to do what is right and then will to defend it when this vision for our future is losing the ‘popularity contest.’

This ATL Gal wants to be on the 1st streetcar ride down Auburn Ave.! Wonder if they’ll let me ring the bell?


John Burger said...

I too love the idea of streetcars in Atlanta, but given the narrow width of Peachtree in Midtown & Downtown, perhaps they'd be a better fit running along Juniper (heading south) and West Peachtree (heading north) in those parts of the city? Those streets are already one-way, have a little more wiggle room to accommodate streetcars, and would ostensibly reach a wider service area than a line that only ran up/down specifically on the Peachtree corridor.

My two cents worth...

Unknown said...

I remember the Trolley Cars as my Granny called them. There were peculiar dual power lines over their heads and Trolley antennae rehabbed them and skittered up and down Peachtree St. They were part of a nice bunch of things about going to town. So were the Carnegie Library and Davisons. But I digress. It is my superpower.

Unknown said...

John - what do you think about turning Juniper and West Peachtree back to 2-way streets?