A mysterious tower and a towering rivalry

Charles at Large: A fifth-generation Atlantan explains the city

Q. What’s that large phallic symbol on the east side of the Connector with the word “Corey” on its side?

Known more politely as the Corey Tower, it was originally a Georgia Power steam plant facility that provided heat to Downtown in the sixties and seventies. Eventually outmoded, it was purchased in 1994 by local entrepreneur Billy Corey, whose company specializes in billboard and airport advertising.

“The ‘Power of the Tower’ is one way we have promoted ourselves,” says Bill Scherer, Corey’s national accounts director. “We recognize the value of visibility.” Corey himself, raised in nearby Cabbagetown, calls it “the best branding vehicle this side of Times Square.”

The 300-foot-tall white tower is illuminated from dusk until dawn and is seen, the company estimates, by more than a million people each day. While it currently displays the black and red Corey logo, the tower “is available,” says Scherer, “for another company with the need to utilize a high-visibility branding landmark.” (Or, as long-shot senatorial candidate Dale Cardwell proved in 2008, it can also be a campsite-cum-political-platform.)

Q: I say Gwinnett’s Brookwood-Parkview high school rivalry is the best in the state. Can you back me up?

No disrespect to storied rivalries such as Westminster and Lovett, but I’m going to paint a target on my back (the colors of the school you most despise) and say that, yes, the Brookwood Broncos and Parkview Panthers rivalry is arguably our best—due to a civil war sparked by their respective athletic successes.

Karl Bostick, legendary athletic director at Parkview from 1983 to 2008, applied in 1981 for a job at Brookwood High School, created to deal with overcrowding at Parkview and South Gwinnett. He didn’t get an interview. Parkview called, and soon he was directing its formidable sports program, winner of forty-seven state titles (to Brookwood’s thirty-eight), home of Jeff Francoeur (Brookwood produced Falcons kicker Jason Elam), and Sports Illustrated’s seventh-best high school program in the nation in 2005. “Our community, our churches, were split in half,” says Bostick. “Brookwood was the little sister for a few years, then, suddenly, it was winning. Letting little sis win? Can’t let that happen!”

Brookwood’s AD, Mark Kimbro, may be “too old to trash talk.” But, he says, “I think we’ve won a few more football games than them.” Parkview’s new AD, Mark Whitley, counters, “That may be true, but we’ve got more state championships than them maroon boys.” Parkview plays its last regular-season football game at Brookwood on November 6.

Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham

Got an Atlanta question? E-mail Charles Bethea at askcharles@atlantamag.emmis.com.