INtown’s Silver Anniversary: Civic & arts leaders reflect on 25 years of the city’s growth

When the first issue of Atlanta 30306, the forerunner of Atlanta INtown, was published in November 1994, the city was in the throes of preparing for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Most Atlantans agree that the games were the catalyst for the city becoming the international city it aspired to be.

Twenty-five years on, the city has transformed beyond what anyone could have imagined. The Atlanta BeltLine project is in the process of connecting the city’s neighborhoods, the city is a destination for Fortune 500 and tech companies, we have the world’s busiest airport, an active arts and culture scene, fine dining, and a thriving real estate market.

INtown has grown with the city, but our core mission is the same as it was in 1994: to bring you positive, hyperlocal news and features you won’t find anywhere else.
That guiding principal has put us in touch with many of the city’s longtime civic and arts leaders, so we asked them to share their memories and reflect on the positive changes that have impacted the city over the last 25 years.

A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress
“I recall sitting in the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Games and feeling so proud of our city. Atlanta was on the world’s stage and the city would be changed forever.  Recognizing there was much work that still needed to be done, from that moment on I knew there should be no challenge, big or small, that could not be solved if we all work together.”

Kevin Green, President & CEO of Midtown Alliance
“Fresh off of the Olympics 25 years ago, Midtown was disinvested, about 2/3rds of the land was surface parking or otherwise ripe for redevelopment and not a lot of good things happened after dark.  With this backdrop, a group of civic leaders spearheaded Blueprint Midtown – a physical plan for Midtown’s resurgence. After more than a hundred public meetings, 1.4 square miles of Midtown was rezoned and a special zoning district was created. Then the Midtown Improvement District was created to fund supplemental clean and safe programs, streetscape, lighting and other transportation improvements. It worked. Since 2000, the residential population of Midtown has almost quadrupled and there have been more than 80 major development projects delivered. Today, Midtown is a very different place, and getting even better.”

Sam Massell, Buckhead Coalition President and former Atlanta Mayor
“Although I’ve lived the city since my birth 92 years ago, Buckhead has been my focus as head of the Buckhead Coalition for the past 25 of them. Thus, it’s this experience that has massaged my emotions. What has been the explosive impact in this community has been the transformation of its image from stately estates on roiling, wooded lands to an urban profile of multifamily rental properties – the homes of millennials engulfed in technical reforms. Oh, to be in that parade!”

Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, Alliance Theatre
“While I haven’t been here for 25 years, the thing that feels most catalytic in my time here is the Beltline.  There’s a notion in urban planning that suggests that cities in which people bump into people (literally and figuratively) are cities with higher degrees of innovation.  The notion is simple; if my daily life puts me in close encounters with people I don’t know, my brain starts rewiring itself toward a kind of “what else don’t I know” curiosity. And 20 minutes on any stretch of the Beltline will put you in bumping range with all ages, all cultures, all sartorial choices, all the wonderful possibilities of what it means to be human.  It’s the same opportunity we always hope to be providing with theatre – and the bonus with the Beltline is you get to work on your cardio and calorie burn at the same time you’re expanding your heart and mind!”


Read the Atlanta INtown 25th anniversary issue at this link

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