We almost shed a tear when we learned that, after three years, Midtown’s beloved Rockspinner sculpture was leaving town. But no need to fret, Midtown Alliance recently installed its replacement: Autoeater.
Yes, it’s literally a hunk of marble eating an automobile.
While a spinning 22,000-pound boulder is cool and all, the 32,000-pound Autoeater has a bit more meaning behind it. Midtown Alliance says the sculpture, located at the intersection of 10th and Peachtree streets, “invites comment on Atlanta’s relationship with the automobile in the context of one of the city’s most walkable urban districts.”
One thing’s for sure: The statue isn’t just turning heads, it’s starting a dialogue.
“If that’s pro-pedestrian and anti-car, I’m all for it,” says Eric Williams, an East Point resident who uses MARTA to get to his job in Midtown.
Cappy Harmon and Bill Nicholson, a retired couple, said they are also in favor of moving away from Atlanta’s automobile focus. “We try to walk when we can, we use MARTA when we can, and we’re trying to get down to one car,” Harmon says before pointing out that road expansion is a short-sighted way of handling transportation in Atlanta. “The city’s not going to stop growing, so they need to figure out better ways,” Nicholson added.
Elena Jambusarwalla, a visitor from New Orleans, a commuter city that doesn’t have as vast of a public transportation system as Atlanta, says she was “all about the movement toward [more] bikes and less cars.”
“We wish we had the kind of public transportation you all have here.”
The timing of the statue’s installation—months after the I-85 bridge collapse that sent MARTA into overdrive and rekindled Atlanta’s ongoing conversation about public transportation—couldn’t be more fitting. But the automobile is still king in Atlanta. After MARTA experienced a spike in riders after the collapse, ridership has since dropped back to normal levels.
Created by German artists Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle, the sculpture is made from marble sourced from northern Italy—a 4,856 mile trip. The car being swallowed is an actual 1980s-model Fiat Panda, an Italian vehicle known for being easy to operate and great for city driving.
Oh, and just as Rockspinner used to remind us, don’t try to climb it.