Panorama of my town

Panorama of my town

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Lost the Hyatt Regency

I was on the 10th floor of the Sloppy Floyd Building today and I could not find the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  Has anyone seen it lately?   I was sure when I went to the window I'd see it and that old familiar building would take me back to my childhood and I'd point at it and tell my companion about how I used to ride round and round in circles inside the blue dome....but it wasn't there. Very disconcerting.

The evening before I had a wonderful conversation with a cute, young bartender in a bar a block off of Ponce about what downtown looked like when I was a child.  My girlfriend had gotten caught in traffic - that Freedom Parkway light at Boulevard is a real bummer.  After she arrived, I reminded her that Edgewood and Decatur are ever so much more efficient when coming from downtown at that hour.

My young companion had poured me a drink and asked the only person sitting at the bar if I 'come here often.'  I was flattered for about a split second, when it occurred to me he was just bored, not flirting.  So I told him about how I used to come to this bar when it had another name and lived another life, many years ago.  He seemed genuinely curious to hear more about how the area had changed since I moved here and I just could not hold myself back....I love this kind of an opening.  Ask me anything about Atlanta.  please!

"Oh ho!" I exclaimed with faint modesty, "I was born and raised here.  Have lived most my life within 3 miles of this very spot. I've seen changes most people have only heard about."    He was too kind - 'tell him more', he said.  Okey dokey - remember you asked.  I spent the next 10 mins in a stream of conscientiousness that broke only long enough for me to take a sip of my drink.  I actually startled myself at the details of what I remembered, as a child. He didn't blink.  He didn't move and so the flow of useless information just kept coming.   Juniper and Spring St were once two-way streets (and West Peachtree should go back to two-way, but that is another conversation).  The Fox Theater was almost torn down.  We used to swim in the lake in Piedmont Park (I think he made a face at that one).

But what stuck in my mind's eye was the view from atop of the Hyatt. That view seemed like it went on forever.  I could see Stone Mountain from up waaaay there, playing 'hide-n-go-seek' out of the dense green tree canopy!   It was a breathtaking view for a little girl.  He interrupted my slightly rum influenced monologue  -'yes!' he had seen that 'little blue dome.'  I paused, why did I feel slightly insulted  by his comment?

My young companion had never seen Atlanta's skyline without 40-story skyscrapers.  Portman buildings and   giant towers along Peachtree from downtown to mid-town are his only frame of reference.  For him, Atlanta always had a 16-lane freeway running through the middle of it and a brown haze on the horizon.  But not for me.

So here I stand, 100 feet above downtown,  the Georgia Capitol covered in Dahlonega gold shining out one window and a wonderful City skyline out another,  but there is no blue Hyatt Regency dome anywhere to be seen.  I was just SURE I'd see it from up here.  Now where did it go?  I think I've lost it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Very Satisfying Morning Walk

So with the rain finally gone and before the weather turns cold again, Loki and I decided to go for a walk today.  He had not yet been introduced to new 4th Ward Historic Park's really rockin' cool water detention pond and I was beyond curious about how it had done its job through the flooding rains of the last two days.  The walk is one I have  done so many times I have lost count - alone or with friends, on hard-hat tours with dignitaries and on private occasions with family visiting from out of town.  I adore the park and am so very proud of the work done by my City - I proudly show it off to anyone who will let me.  This time is was Loki's turn.

Both of us put on our sweaters and headed out. No need for an umbrella, the day was misty but no forecast of rain.  We walked down North Ave and through Freedom Park, past a community garden and playground, and under the Beltline bridge, past the old Excelsior Mill (which I still won't call the Masquerade) and stepped onto the new plaza that now connects 4WHP to North Ave.  She is resplendent in her flowing sidewalk gown and bejeweled with sparkling blue glass rocks beneath newly planted trees.  A splash of color that makes her glow at night.

As we walked, two children riding bikes came to a stop on the plaza and did exactly what I did the first time I saw them, they reached down to pick up a blue glass rock to see if the rocks were 'real.'   They asked if they could pet Loki who was eagerly pulling on his leash for their attention and we chatted for a moment before we all continued on our respective journeys. When had I ever seem children riding bikes on this part of North Ave?  I could not remember.   As the happy children rode away two adults came strolling across the plaza.

The elder man and his younger male companion were deep in conversation with their heads pulled in close, eyes down seeming not to notice the beautiful blue stones or the newly planted grass, they walked the path with such familiarity as though they had done so a hundred times before.  But of course they could not have, no one could.  It had been a desolate blacktop parking lot just a few short weeks before. But now it connects us to playgrounds and pond and life and conversation.  Fit for strolling.

The detention pond was very full, the water was muddy and the level was higher than I had ever seen, but the geese didn't seem to mind and the plants around the pond, meant to survive when the water level rose, were doing just fine. Children's voice rang out around the pond.  Dogs barked (and drove Loki to distraction).  Voices of people walking and chatting and getting caught up with friends. Laughter.  Life.  Conversations.

We circled the pond once and I took a few photos to document Loki's first trip to the Park, then headed home.  Back up North Ave, past historic buildings in the throes of gentle renovation, under an old bridge being rejuvenated for a new purpose, across a park that had started life as a freeway and finally back through the doors of my childhood home.  A very satisfying morning walk.