When we started planning our fiftieth anniversary issue a year ago, we asked ourselves one question: “Do readers really care that we’re fifty years old?” The short answer is “No.” The longer answer went something like, “Maybe not, but they do care about this wacky and wonderful place they call home.” With that premise in mind, we set to work on a simple idea: Write about the city’s most influential people from the last half century. Which sounds easy—until you actually have to do things like define influence, for example, or cut people such as Clark Howard from your list. (Sorry, Clark.) We wanted the list to do two—at times contradictory—things: be authoritative, but also surprising. So yes, MLK is on the list, but so is Bill Lucas, a name you may never have heard of. You’ll see why he made our list when you read former editor Lee Walburn’s piece on him. At the same time, the story of Atlanta isn’t just about influence. How, for example, do you sum up fifty years without mentioning Blondie? Or John Rocker? So we came up with even more lists.
A final note: Each new editor of Atlanta magazine becomes custodian of a set of bound volumes containing every issue of the magazine. In flipping through those thousands of pages, one truth emerges, and it’s that Atlantans love food. So it seems appropriate that we use this issue to debut our new Appetite section, giving even more coverage to the one thing we can all agree on: There’s nothing like a good meal.