on the way through atlanta

Tuesday, August 5: Driving with my dad into Atlanta was a strange experience. I hadn’t really spent significant time there in several years. My family lives outside of the city, so I usually have just flown into the airport and then gone on to somewhere else. The intervening years (and particularly the money pumped in by the 1996 Olympics) have really changed the city a great deal.

One of the biggest changes was the completion of the Presidential Expressway, or what they now call the Freedom Parkway. For the entire time that I lived there (1985-1994), the struggle over an easy way to get from downtown to the Carter Center meant that a big chunk of the city was not being developed in any way, although some houses had been torn down and a bit of clearcutting had taken place, and the resulting stasis (and eyesore) felt sort of representative of Atlanta as a whole: on the verge of some big changes, but waiting for something to happen first.

For the Olympics, however, it just wouldn’t do to have this business unfinished, and the new parkway was completed (while I was living in Maryland) with remarkable speed. It’s a nicely landscaped, gently meandering stretch of road with a bike path alongside it and some murals and such along the way. Along with the completion of this project has come the gentrification of the northeast-of-downtown region of the city, and I’m sorry to see the sleazy elegance of Ponce de Leon Avenue be replaced with the kind of generic quality that comes from quick real estate developments. All things change, I suppose.

The Majestic Diner (where I spent many a late night eating grits) is still there, however, and the alterna-hip, ironic strip club Clermont Lounge (where I went once to see a friend’s band perform), and Fellini’s Pizza (where I ate a zillion slices of pizza, and where Chan Marshall apparently used to serve slices before her Cat Power days). But everything is a little bit cleaner, a little bit brighter, and a little bit more upscale. Well, except the Clermont Lounge, as grungy looking as ever from the street, but word is that the Clermont Hotel has been bought and perhaps changes are coming.

One change that was perhaps most startling of all was that the Krispy Kreme on Ponce was either being torn down (no!) or rebuilt. You can get KK donuts in many parts of the country now, of course; hell, you can buy stock, if you like. But, I had always thought that the Ponce location was the Krispy Kreme, the mother ship, the ur-donut shop, the place that started it all. My mom went to this Krispy Kreme when she was in high school. Turns out the company started in North Carolina, but this does not diminish my attachment to this particular location. I hope they are just rebuilding and not replacing.

Krispy Kreme donuts on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia

Hot Donuts Now! Hot Donuts Now! Hot Donuts Now!


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7 thoughts on “on the way through atlanta

  1. I forgot to add earlier, but the term “sleazy elegance” perfectly encapsulates Ponce’s old Atlanta beauty in decadence (the Clermont) and decline (pretty mcuh everything else). It’s kinda sad to see it go.

  2. Just remodeling? Phew!
    I feel sad about the loss, too, Chuck. Realistically, though, I know that although Ponce is losing its particular charm, that doesn’t mean other parts of Atlanta aren’t cycling into their own unusually appealing states.

  3. Yeah, East Atlanta is becoming tres cool, and Grant Park is also going through its own transformation (which isn’t entirely positive–lots of folks are being displaced).

  4. Remembering Atlanta

    I’ve been reading with interest George’s blogs about his trip to Atlanta (and not just because I appear as a major character). I was especially intrigued by his reflection on the transformations of Atlanta since he left during the “graduate…

  5. Swimming Pool

    After enjoying a tasty pizza at Fellini’s Pizza (George apparently likes their pizza, too) , S. and I went to see FranÁois Ozon’s Swimming Pool, starring Charlotte Rampling as Sarah Morton, a British mystery writer who faces writers’ block and…

  6. That Krispy Kreme actually burned down and you saw it during its reconstruction. It was a very sad day when that happened because it was around the same time the Wendy’s on Howell Mill Rd in Northwest Atlanta burned down as well. Both are back and better than ever now. That Krispy Kreme is awesome for late night grub fests!

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