Atlanta magazine :: November 2009 :: From the Editor
November 2009

From the Editor

When I first moved to Atlanta a decade ago, my wife and I settled into an apartment complex in Buckhead, with a gorgeous pool and women as thin as the walls that separated us from our neighbors. In the courtyard below our window was a fountain that lulled us to sleep, except for the night when we were awoken by a drunken woman trying to break up a fight between two suitors. “Stop it!” she screamed. “I love you both!”

The fight moved indoors, and I never did find out how it was resolved. Did she choose? Did one of the guys drop out of the running? Who was this woman, capable of dividing her affections so equally?

So many questions. And yet, coming from upstate New York, where mating rituals are conducted from beneath layers of Gore-Tex, I was beginning to understand how Atlanta had gained a reputation as a destination for singles. They were everywhere, and not just in the bars. They were in the HOV lane. On the jogging path. At the mechanic’s. They were in church, on the job, at the chili cook-off. They were, to drop one of my favorite phrases, thick on the ground, lured here from not just the four corners of the nation but the four corners of the world. They came for jobs, for the sun and the heat, for $600 apartments, $3 beers, and a music scene that has something for everyone.

Over the years, that belief has been ratified by tastemakers who periodically conjure up annual lists of the best cities for the unattached. Last year Forbes magazine pronounced Atlanta as the top city for singles, beating out every other metro area in America. Criteria for this recognition include the cost of a six-pack of Heineken (I’m not kidding; check out the methodology) and something they call the “coolness” factor. I don’t know how it happened, but in the 2009 rankings, Atlanta tumbled from the top to sixth place, thanks in part to us evidently becoming less cool over the past year.

The media likes to make a big deal of these lists, but they’re a joke, of course. Has anyone actually ever moved to or from a city based on such a silly ranking? To me, the most durable evidence of Atlanta’s status as a mecca for singles can be found on page 82, where we interview a dozen survivors (and yes, I think it’s fair to label them as such) of Riverbend, the apartment complex on the Chattahoochee that in the 1960s and 1970s earned a nationwide reputation as one of the hottest party spots in America. Athletes, movie stars, even Evel Knievel would drop by. They came not because Atlanta was on any list, but because Atlanta was then precisely what it is now—a place to reinvent yourself, have a blast, and, if you’re too lucky, find more than one person to love.

Steve Fennessy