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Up on the roof ...

Posted By: Rebecca Burns · 8/31/2011 8:00:00 PM
For years — five to be precise — I have been on the quest for an ideal blog concept. Not easy. The problem is my attention span, which if I flatter myself, is inquisitive and broad. More accurately, it's squirrel-like and scattershot.
 
How you do bundle together obsessions with Atlanta history, transit systems, clean air, and civil rights with digressions into literary commentary and more history trivia and create a cohesive blog? Uh, you don't, or at least not gracefully. I've started and stopped more blogs than Larry King has marriages.
 
But a few weeks ago, my husband and I did what many married couples say they'll do when the kid's off at college and suburban surroundings lose their luster: We sold our house and moved to a loft less than two miles from Downtown. Truthfully, this wasn't prompted by empty nest syndrome — after all, we lived in a loft when our daughter was in elementary school — as much as the housing market. We tried to sell our house a few years ago, at the moment  the housing bubble burst. No luck. But this summer, we tried again, slashing our asking price (ouch!) and finding a buyer in five weeks (yay!).
 
The terms of the sale required us to move out of idyllic Avondale Estates in a hurry. So we hunted for a new home with a short checklist: no yard, no basement, and no commute longer than twenty minutes. It was just on impulse that we took a look at The Stacks, aka the old Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills. We'd both gone to parties there back in the eighties, when the mills were abandoned and near collapse. I'd done some stories on the surrounding area for my college paper, focusing on the impact the Mills' closure had on the community in the late 1970s.
 
Walking through the lofts we were suitably charmed by the big windows,  soaring ceilings, exposed brick, and fancy new fixtures. I was impressed by the developer's recovery from the fire of 1999, which I recalled watching from our old loft, and the tornado of 2008. I remembered watching the repair work as my MARTA ride took me at eye-level past the mill buildings.
 
But what really sold us on The Stacks was the moment the agent took us out on the roof-top deck. THAT is what prompted us to yank out our camera phones (there's my original snapshot at the right).
 
The view from the roof of Mill Building No. 2 isn't just remarkable because of the skyline right in front of you. Sitting out there is an all-encompassing experience, lulled by the hush of Oakland Cemetery just to the west, glimpsing the hulk of Stone Mountain way over the east, listening to the roar of the CSX line right in front of you. From this vantage point you can trace the Atlanta's evolution up the spine of Peachtree Ridge, the geologic formation that literally is backbone of the city, from old Downtown, anchored by the glittering gold dome of the Capitol to the towers of Buckhead rising above the treeline and smog.
 
Since moving in, we have spent far too much time sitting in the deck chairs on the roof and watching the city go by. We like to say that it feels like an urban beach: wide open sky, constantly shifting clouds, lovely sunsets, the white-noise roar of trains in place of waves, and the dramas that unfold on the horizon. Instead of watching pelicans dive for dinner, we watch helicopters land on the roof of Grady Memorial Hospital.
 
"This is what you should blog about. The view," my husband said one evening as we sat watching the switchman shift a lumbering CSX train's path from one rail-line to another and waiting for the July heat to ease as the sun set. "You could pick a building to profile each week, get your history fix."
 
I laughed at first, but couldn't shake the thought. The more I thought of it, the more sense it made. What unifies my areas of expertise and varied obsessive interests? Atlanta. How do they all connect? Along the Peachtree Ridge. And that's a unifying blog theme and perspective I can commit to for the  long haul.
 

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  1. Darin posted on 09/01/2011 03:54 PM
    Nice story! The Stacks building and the surrounding area have seen a lot of changes over the decades. One of the things I enjoy about living in an area so rich with history (we live downtown) is that your life becomes a connected part of that history.

    We had a similar 'wow' moment when we checked our Healey Building condo for the first time. We were only slightly interested in moving downtown (it seemed odd to do with a little kid), but when we saw that view coming through those original 8 foot tall windows, we couldn't say no.
    1. RebeccaBurns posted on 09/02/2011 12:32 PM
      @Darin Darin,
      Thanks for the nice comments. I love the Healey Building, especially that spectacular atrium!
  2. ElizabethFlorio posted on 09/09/2011 05:53 PM
    This photo reminds me of the Corona "Find Your Beach" campaign (which I love).
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