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Cameron Albert-Deitch


How Spring Street became Ted Turner Drive

Atlanta Street Names
Illustration by Javier Muñoz

This summer, a stretch of Spring Street was renamed in honor of Ted Turner. Maybe you heard. Keeping up with our constant street name changes is a challenge, and not a new one: In 1903 the Atlanta Constitution reported that more than 225 city streets had changed names at least once—some as many as seven times. Which is surprising, because it’s actually not that easy, as you can see below.

How to change a street name
The potential new name
is submitted to the city, and the Atlanta City Council may choose to examine whether the name is worthy. 1 The Atlanta History Center may chime in on the historical significance of the proposed location, which, in addition to a street, could include a park, bridge, or even the side of a building. 2  To avoid political ramifications, it’s simpler to rename a place that hasn’t already been named for a person. 3

If a street is chosen, the appropriate Neighborhood Planning Unit and residents and tenants are contacted. City code says 75 percent of the people on a street have to agree to the change. 4

Two public hearings are held for members of the general public to voice their support—or their grievances—in front of the council, which then votes yea or nay. 5

The fine print
1 The application to rename a stretch of Spring Street in honor of a certain cable TV tycoon came from the group Friends of Ted Turner. The danger of naming streets for still-living people, of course, is that they might come back to embarrass you. Look no further than Cynthia McKinney Parkway, a stretch of Memorial Drive renamed in 2000 after then-congresswoman McKinney won $14 million in funds to upgrade that road. In the decade following, McKinney suggested that the Bush administration had advance notice of the 9/11 attacks.

2 Grant Park was named for the 19th-century engineer and businessman Lemuel P. Grant, who donated land to the city, and Candler Park for Coca-Cola magnate Asa G. Candler. Spaghetti Junction is officially called Tom Moreland Interchange in honor of the longtime Georgia transportation chief.

3 In 2011 there was debate over renaming Harris Street after renowned architect John Portman. John L. Harris had been a city attorney, a judge, and a state representative—and, as the council found out just before the vote, a lieutenant colonel for the Confederacy. Some believe Harris commanded troops that massacred wounded black soldiers at the Battle of Olustee, while historians contend his Fourth Georgia Volunteer Cavalry unit didn’t participate. It ended in a compromise: We now know the street as “John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street.”

4 The statute is less a legal necessity than a courtesy—council members can simply waive that “requirement.” In the case of Ted Turner Drive at Historic Spring Street, nine of the council members agreed to do so; of the three dissenters on the name change vote, at least one was in protest of waiving the statute.

5 Atlanta icon Andrew Young (who has a boulevard named after him) said of the Ted Turner effort: “One man . . . can change the world. And I think when we name this street for Ted Turner, we perpetuate a legacy that is the best for the city of Atlanta.”

Street cred
Ted Turner Drive at Historic Spring Street

est. 2015

Cynthia McKinney Parkway
est. 2000

Grant Park
est. 1883

Candler Park
est. 1922

Tom Moreland Interchange
est. 1987

John Portman Boulevard at Historic Harris Street
est. 2011

Andrew Young International Boulevard
est. 2001

This article originally appeared in our October 2015 issue under the headline “Where the streets have new names.”

Waffle House celebrates 60th anniversary during National Waffle Week

National Waffle Week is always something to celebrate. Who doesn’t love waffles? The festivities, held the first week of September (not to be confused with National Waffle Day, which is August 24), might be even bigger than usual this year because Waffle House turns 60 on Labor Day. Observations include special events and giveaways at the Waffle House Museum, which has operated out of the chain’s original Avondale Estates building since 2008. A food truck is dishing up samples, and museum admission and tours are free. So if you’ve ever wondered how those T-bone steaks made their way onto the menu, mark September 12 on your calendar.

The new Atlanta stadium is on track

On the same day that Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference announcing that the new owners of the Atlanta Hawks will either renovate Philips Arena or relocate the team elsewhere, officials with the Falcons, the one team that’s absolutely committed to downtown Atlanta, led a tour of the $1.4 billion new stadium, now eleven months into construction.

“We’re on schedule,” says general superintendent Bob Evans, who also helped build the Georgia Dome more than 20 years ago. “We’re actually ahead of schedule at certain parts of the job. The job’s so big that we’re a little behind here and there, but for the most part, overall, we’re on target.”

When it opens in 2017, the stadium will host not only the Falcons but Atlanta’s new Major League Soccer team, Atlanta United FC.

Also on the tour was team owner Arthur Blank, who stood near a flagpole marking the spot of the future 50 yard line. “Any time I have a down day, I come here and walk away with a smile on my face,” he said.

The leadership team pointed out in particular the stadium’s environmental efforts; Scott Jenkins, the stadium’s general manager, said it’s on track to become the first major sports facility to achieve LEED Platinum certification (the highest level of certification by the U.S. Green Building Council). The plaza and parking decks surrounding the stadium—including the 900 parking spots where the Georgia Dome currently stands—will feature around 4,000 solar panels. A 680,000-gallon water system will be put in place to increase water efficiency, primarily for field irrigation.

Construction of the stadium’s lower bowl is almost complete, Jenkins explained. The next step is by far the most difficult: building the retractable roof and fitting it to the top of the stadium. It’ll take about a year on its own. Once that’s done, the 360 degree scoreboard can go in, and workers can start to finish the stadium’s interior.

There’s a drive-thru Waffle House in Stone Mountain

Illustration by Ryan Snook
Illustration by Ryan Snook

Breakfast fans on the east side, rejoice: Stone Mountain has a drive-thru Waffle House! The Norcross-based chain is testing the concept for the second time; the first WaHo window opened in August 2008 and closed after a year. The experiment fizzled because of the restaurant’s location on Fulton Industrial Boulevard, which, according to Waffle House spokesperson Pat Warner, wasn’t on “the breakfast side of the road.” In the new Stone Mountain spot, the drive-thru window will be open for limited hours—breakfast and lunch only—and serve foods that can be cooked quickly and consumed easily. You can still have your hash browns—you’ll just get them in a bowl. Will more drive-thrus follow? “I don’t know,” Warner says. “That’s why we’re testing it!”

This article originally appeared in our June 2015 issue.

Saint Patrick’s Day Showdown: Savannah vs. Atlanta

Illustration by Diego Patiño/The Jacky Winter Group
Illustration by Diego Patiño/The Jacky Winter Group

The Saint Patrick’s Day procession on Peachtree claims bragging rights as Atlanta’s oldest parade, but it’s second fiddle in its own state. Savannah’s parade, recognized nationwide, has drawn more than a million people. How the shindigs stack up.

This year the parade turns: 
191 years old
It started after: The port built up a sizable Irish population as immigration patterns took shape in the early 1800s.
Signature parade attraction: Floats change from year to year, but marchers always include military and schools.
Application of green dye: The water of Savannah’s famed Forsyth Park landmark is transformed with the “greening of the fountain” ceremony. (Efforts to color the Savannah River in 1961 were not successful.)
Time (you can attend both!): Tuesday, March 17, 10:15 a.m.
Location: It starts at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and then winds through historic Savannah.
Additional partying: A weekend of music, food, and beer. (City law shrank “to go” cups from 32 oz. to 16 in 2000.)
Estimated 2015 attendance: 600,000–650,000

This year the parade turns: 133 years old
It started after: The parade was first held in the 1850s but was really promoted after the Civil War; the city became more Irish-friendly after Father Thomas O’Reilly helped prevent General Sherman from burning Atlanta churches in 1864.
Signature parade attraction: The world’s largest Irish walking flag, which can be seen from high-rises miles away.
Application of green dye: The fountains at Woodruff Park are dyed green.
Time (you can attend both!): Saturday, March 14, noon
Location: Peachtree Street in Midtown. (After a century-plus downtown, the parade moved last year.)
Additional partying: Uh, you can wander over to Rí Rá Irish Pub?
Estimated 2015 attendance: 200,000–250,000

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue.

Get ready for CardboardCon: How to turn a box into a superhero costume

Photograph by Cathy Wise
Photograph by Cathy Wise

If you’ve taken in the spectacle of a sci-fi convention like Dragon Con, you might presume that all cosplay requires spandex, corsetry, and/or complicated wiring. But things are decidedly more low-tech at CardboardCon, which is “dedicated to the art of cardboard costuming.” How exactly does one transform a box into a superhero? Some, like CardboardCon founder Drew Duncan, find cartons at liquor stores and assemble costumes piecemeal. But Stephen “Cap” Larkworthy, the man behind Atlanta’s popular Box Heroes, fabricates his cartons from scratch. He’s created more than 60 superhero costumes since 2009 (his favorites: Falcon, Batman, Hawkman). How he does it:

BoxHeroes_FinalSpot11 Start with two to three pristine four-by-eight sheets of cardboard. Assemble the pieces like armor (lower leg, thigh, torso, etc.). Keep it simple—geometric shapes are easy—but don’t be afraid to sculpt specific pieces with an X-Acto knife if you need curves.

BoxHeroes_FinalSpot22 Attach the pieces to each other. Score the fold lines and glue a tab into place, then apply hot glue to the scored areas before pressing the sheets together. Use tape where necessary (but paint doesn’t stick well to it, so reserve for emergencies only).

BoxHeroes_FinalSpot33 It’s time to start painting. Use interior latex paint. Again, keep it simple; most costumes only have a one- or two-tone base.

BoxHeroes_FinalSpot44 Once the paint is dry, add your detailing lines with a smaller brush. Use black to really make those base colors pop.

On the calendar: CardboardCon, a sci-fi/fantasy convention, includes a costume parade and panels. March 7. cardboardcon.com

Illustrations by Chris Philpot

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue under the headline “Think inside the box.”

The brick master: An Atlantan turns Legos life-size

Photograph by Ryan Gibson
Photograph by Ryan Gibson

When: December 10, 2014
Where: Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta, Phipps Plaza

Everything is awesome for Aries Viera, the 23-year-old master model builder at Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta. The native Atlantan beat out nine other contenders in a building battle for the attraction’s top title. So did he play with Legos as a kid? Of course he did, taking apart his battleship and submarine sets to free-build houses and laser guns. When he’s not working directly with children, you can find Viera in his office, creating Lego models of life-sized Christmas trees or Star Wars lightsabers. And yes, he’s fully aware of how cool his job is. “It’s funny because being the master builder here was my long-term goal,” he says. “It just happened a lot sooner than I thought it would.”

This article originally appeared in our February 2015 issue.

Atlanta-based TreeZero produces tree-free paper

Michael Nilan has never been one to overlook a great idea. In 2010, while on a business trip to China, the entrepreneur stumbled across a plant that produced paper without using a single tree. Inspired, Nilan shuttered his old business, which outsourced jobs for American companies like Tropicana and Westinghouse, and cofounded Atlanta-based TreeZero, which produces and distributes tree-free paper to both consumers and organizations. Its customers include Aflac and the CDC.

Sugar: Fernando Vasconcelos from the Noun Project; Paper: Tom Schott from the Noun Project
Sugar: Fernando Vasconcelos from the Noun Project; Paper: Tom Schott from the Noun Project

After discovering quality-control issues at the China plant, Nilan and his partner Ed Kennedy located another mill in South America, but its formula included 5 percent pine—a problem for a company already incorporated as TreeZero. No matter: The pair worked with engineers to eliminate pine from the equation before signing an exclusive contract with the mill.

TreeZero makes high-quality paper from a sugarcane-processing byproduct that is typically dumped in a landfill or incinerated. The production process is not just ecofriendly—it actually helps the environment.

The paper industry, including local giant Georgia-Pacific, has long presented recycled paper as ecofriendly. But according to Nilan, TreeZero performs better—leaving less dust in printers and absorbing ink crisply—because it has never been remanufactured.

This article originally appeared in our November 2014 issue under the headline “Sweet!”

Now in Georgia research news: Deadbeat dads, maternal mammals, and egalitarian couples

What if deadbeat dads couldn’t get away with it? Researchers at the University of Georgia and Boston College crunched data from 1979 to 1993 with a “perfect enforcement” baseline model used to predict how absent fathers would pay in an ideal scenario. The result? Unwed men would have fewer kids. As for divorced fathers: “We do find that perfect enforcement leads to about a five percentage point decline in divorce rates,” says UGA assistant professor Meghan Skira.

Photograph from iStockphoto.com
Photograph from iStockphoto.com

They say you can’t understand motherly love until you have a child yourself. Turns out, they might be right. Emory University primate experts found that molecules preparing the body for giving birth also activate neural pathways motivating parents to care for their newborns. The study says this reaction is not limited to humans and our fellow primates; upon childbirth, most mammals develop maternal instincts.

If you worry an egalitarian relationship means less time between the sheets, don’t. Georgia State University sociologists refuted a 2013 study claiming that sharing housework cuts into couples’ sex lives, finding instead that couples with equal divisions of labor have similar (and sometimes better) sex lives. “The egalitarian couples have sex a little bit more often,” says assistant professor Daniel Carlson.

This article originally appeared in our November 2014 issue.

Predictive policing crime prevention software successful for APD

Atlanta Police Lieutenant LeAnne Browning recalls her days as a patrol officer. “Our lieutenants would say, ‘Okay, I want you to look at the beat books so you can know what’s out there on your beat.’ Well, the beat books are like this thick with reports,” she says, holding her hands a couple of feet apart. “And you’d sit there and thumb through it all, and there was no time because they were then kicking you out of the precinct to handle calls.” She pauses before pointing to her computer screen. “That’s the old way of doing things. This­—it’s right here.”

Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson
Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

“This” refers to PredPol, or predictive policing crime prevention software, which the city has been using since November 2013 and which Mayor Kasim Reed touted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed as the kind of innovation that makes cities “ascendant.”

To use the system, officers input basic queries—location, type of crime, and time of day—and, based on crime report data, PredPol’s web app returns maps overlaid with 500-square-foot boxes detailing the most likely locations for specific crimes at certain times of day. Want to focus on burglaries or auto theft? You can. Want to include gun crime? You can do that, too—without having to plow through stacks of printouts.

Officers then increase the frequency of patrols in potential trouble spots. “If you have a box on your beat, we want you to be in that box as much as you can [while] not neglecting any other hot spots that you may know of or calls,” says Browning.

The Atlanta Police Department is ready to call PredPol a success. Before fully integrating the program, the force instituted a 90-day pilot, using it in two of APD’s six zones. By the end of the testing, crime had dropped noticeably in those two zones compared with the benchmark of the previous year. Browning cautions against attributing that drop entirely to PredPol, but readily acknowledges that it made a huge difference.

The security software, which melds with the city’s Video Integration Center surveillance system, is certainly futuristic—with just a hint of Minority Report—but Carlos Campos, APD director of public affairs, stresses the importance of old-school patrolling. “I doubt we’ll ever find a substitute for that, just good old-fashioned shoe leather,” he says.

APD is not the first—or only—metro area force to use PredPol. Norcross, which rolled out the software in August 2013, reports similar success: Captain Bill Grogan says Norcross saw a 20 percent decrease in crimes analyzed by PredPol, “most likely” due to predictive policing. Marietta is checking into a PredPol contract, and though Roswell doesn’t use real-time crime analytics yet, Master Police Officer Zachary Frommer says the suburb is looking to “expand our capabilities in this area.”

PredPol has its share of skeptics, including former Georgia congressman Bob Barr, who now is president of Liberty Guard, which advocates for privacy. PredPol brings a “serious threat to individual liberty,” he says. “It is important that local enforcement be transparent in their use of this and similar technology.”

Screenshot of an APD PredPol screen. The boxes are areas identified as places where crime is likely to occur next.

Courtesy APD

The science behind PredPol
California-based PredPol was founded on the theory that earthquake-predicting analytics could be applied to crime. Earthquakes are related to topography—more likely near fault lines—and also to each other. “It turns out that crime is very much the same thing,” says cofounder and chief of research and development Jeff Brantingham, also a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He uses high schools as an example of a fault-like feature in city crime: “A high school has a standing crop of young men ages fourteen to seventeen, and what do we know about young men ages fourteen to seventeen? They get into trouble. They will generate crime, and therefore, high schools are sort of a built-in feature of the environment that tends to generate crime in and around that area.”

As for aftershocks, he points to the law enforcement concept of repeat victimization. If a house is broken into, chances of a next-day burglary go up. Not only that, but neighbors are more at risk. “The offender can map what was successful for them in your house to your neighbor’s house with very little added cost,” Brantingham says.

This article originally appeared in our November 2014 issue under the headline “Future Crimes.”

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