As 2017 draws to a close, your social media timeline is no doubt flooded with year-end roundup lists. We’ve got a a few—for example, the best new restaurants and our annual Best of Atlanta roundup—but when we looked back and tried to think about what happened in the metro area this year, one thought came to mind: “That is so Atlanta.” Here are ten moments from 2017, both the good and the bad, that could have only happened in—or, in the case of the first entry, to—this city we call home:
The Falcons made it to the Super Bowl, then choked at the last minute
For many Atlantans, February 5 was a night of heartbreak. After a strong lead over the New England Patriots in the first half of Super Bowl LI, the Falcons lost in overtime 28-34. “TV sets clicked off as hope fell pitch black and, as the sports pundits may forever declare, Atlanta went back to being Atlanta, world headquarters of Choke-a-Cola,” Macon Telegraph reporter Joe Kovac, Jr. wrote in an article for our March issue, which went to the printer the day after the loss. The team is currently 9-5 for this season, with two more important division games against the Saints on Christmas Eve and the Panthers on New Year’s Eve.
A fire caused part of I-85 to collapse and sent the city into a frenzy
In a perfect microcosm of how fragile our car-based transit system is, burning polyethylene piping stored under the I-85 bridge between the Buford Connector and 400 exits caused the concrete to collapse on March 30, stranding drivers on the interstate and causing a commute nightmare for days to come. No one was injured in the collapse, and MARTA benefited from a brief surge in ridership. With crews working around the clock, the bridge was repaired in a little over a month.
A fire caused the airport to shut down and sent anyone trying to fly across the country into a frenzy
Déjà vu! On December 17, an electrical fire at a Georgia Power substation caused a blackout at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, causing a ground stop and eventually canceling all flights. And since Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport, this meant delays all across the U.S. Stranded passengers rested on baggage carousals and check-in counters in the darkened airport, while those on planes were stuck in their seats. Power was restored around midnight, when travelers were served free Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
A MARTA bus became a viral meme when it blocked a live shot of the Georgia Dome implosion
“No, bus, get out of the way!” When the 25-year-old stadium was imploded on the morning of November 20, one Weather Channel reporter had his live shot set up for hours. The explosions ignited, and a curious MARTA bus driver pulled to a complete stop right in front of his camera. The reporter’s subsequent freak out went completely viral, making national headlines and also downplaying the fact that the implosion failed to take down two of the stadium’s walls. It wasn’t the video TWC wanted, but it was the video Atlanta needed.
Mary Norwood lost a mayoral election by ~700 votes to Kasim Reed’s hand-picked candidate
It was almost improbable, but in a true show of “yes, your vote really does count,” Mary Norwood lost the December 5 runoff election to Keisha Lance Bottoms by 756 votes, in the same ballpark of the 714 votes she lost to Kasim Reed in 2009. The fact that Bottoms was Reed’s candidate of choice did nothing to quell the déjà vu. Norwood called for a recount that again declared Bottoms the winner (by 832 votes) and finally conceded the race on December 20.
Donald Glover won all of the awards
It’s been a good couple of years for the Stone Mountain-raised entertainer. Atlanta was a 2016 breakout hit, especially capturing hearts here at home, and the critics awarded him overwhelmingly this year. In January, he won two Golden Globes for the show, thanking “all the black folks in Atlanta” and Migos in his acceptance speech. In September, Glover took home statues for Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series (the latter of which he was the first black man ever to win) at the Emmys, thanking Atlanta in his acceptance speech. He was also cast as Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Star Wars film Solo, as Simba in the upcoming Lion King live-action reboot, and is working on an animated Deadpool series with his brother Stephen. A good year, indeed.
City Hall filled a room with hundreds of boxes of dead trees
Kasim Reed claimed that stacking hundreds of boxes filled with 1.47 million pieces of paper related a federal bribery investigation for reporters to rifle through was a gesture of transparency. Others called it a publicity stunt. But whatever the intent, the moment was quintessential Atlanta government. “Even if you knew exactly what document you wanted, diving randomly into a roomful of boxes seems a fool’s errand,” Scott Henry wrote for us in February. “City officials said they didn’t know how much the city had spent on printing and boxing up the papers, but if you go by the 10-cents-a-page copying fee that governments typically charge for documents, it would’ve run close to $150,000, not counting the man-hours.”
2 Chainz opened the Trap House
The hot pink home that popped up on Howell Mill Road in June became so much more than just an Instagram background and a publicity vehicle for 2 Chainz’s album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. It also held an art gallery, church services, and offered HIV testing services. The house’s lease expired on July 7, turning it back into a plain, boring home. But in December, the house was reborn on Defoor Place as Trap Wonderland, decked out in Christmas lights and offering holiday activities for kids (as well as a gift shop).
We panicked about severe weather that ended up being not-so-severe
You can’t really blame Atlantans for being a little skittish when the forecast calls for snow—2014’s “snowpocalypse” (and other winter weather fiascos before it) showed how badly even a few inches can muck up the entire city. So on the evening of January 5, when the forecast began calling for snow and ice, thousands rushed to Kroger and Publix to buy up all the milk and bread they could find. Spoiler alert: Nothing really happened. Similarly, when Hurricane Irma barreled into Florida, Atlantans were understandably nervous about the storm’s coming wrath. When it did hit Atlanta on September 11, it caused widespread power outages and wind damage, but all things considered, it wasn’t nearly as bad as many feared. Ironically, Atlanta’s biggest snowfall of the year occurred without much fanfare at all on December 8. Businesses and schools began closing all at once around noon, causing many to worry that Snowpocalypse 2017 was imminent, but aside from some longer commutes, Atlantans mostly just enjoyed the rare snow day.
Col. Bruce Hampton went out the way he wanted to
“I heard Col. Bruce Hampton say on several occasions that he’d probably die on stage, eventually—that he’d prefer to die there, actually,” friend Jerry Grillo wrote in a tribute to the late musician, who collapsed on stage during the encore of his 70th birthday concert in May. The beloved musician’s death sent a shockwave through Atlanta’s jam band community, but as Grillo wrote, “the arc of Hampton’s remarkable story landed right where he predicted, or hoped, it would—one last show, one last note, then out.”