January 29, 2016
On a wintry Sunday afternoon, about 40 volunteers planted 2,000 daffodil bulbs at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in memory of children killed in the Holocaust.
The group of volunteers who participated in the symbolic daffodil planting at the entrance to the center included Thomas Buergenthal, one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. Already, Am Yisrael Chai, a local Holocaust awareness and education organization, has planted 177,000 daffodils in downtown Atlanta (and 280,000 around the world, which include thousands in Canada, Poland and the Czech Republic) in memory of the estimated 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust, as well as in support of children suffering in humanitarian crises in the world today.
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December 27, 2015
By A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District
As we approach the one year anniversary of the Atlanta Streetcar launch, I'm reminded of how far we've come as a community since the idea of reintroducing a streetcar system began almost 15 years ago. In those early days, we gave little thought to potential ridership numbers, economic impacts or even traffic mitigation. What we strived for was re-connectivity of the central core with its surrounding neighborhoods and preservation of the value of Peachtree Street, one of the City's most important north-south corridors.
We realized back then this was a long-term infrastructure project, much like a new airport runway, bridge or roadway, and it would not be fully appreciated in the short-term. In a way we expected some reluctance and criticism during the early stages, specifically from those who refuse to see the benefits of the Atlanta Streetcar which include, providing missing circulation and direct connectivity to existing transit services coming into Downtown, as well as future intercity and high-speed passenger rail services; and generating economic impact and new investment for the City.
Make no mistake about it. From our vantage point in the Downtown community, the long-term benefits we sought still remain and we are seeing investment along the Streetcar route that is well chronicled. Since the funding announcement in 2011, $842 million in new investment has been completed within a five-minute walk of the Streetcar, with another $1.1 billion under construction or planned. While it is disputable that some of these projects would have happened without the Streetcar, there’s no denying that it's all about building a strong Atlanta brand. If you think that's a good idea, then stay with the program. If not, that’s okay by us.
On one hand, we’re pleased that the Streetcar is newsworthy and has caught the attention of so many who care deeply about the system’s operation and safety. On the other hand, we’d like to see more balanced and relevant reporting that is based on the system as a whole. Not these investigative, watch-dog stories that get into the weeds of dated forecasts. For example, we have yet to see a story about the improved service we’re delivering. When we opened the system a year ago it took three vehicles to deliver 15 minute service. Over the past year we have made great progress to fine-tune the system, which is tricky given the Streetcar operates in an environment it does not have sole control over - unlike MARTA rail. We can now operate two vehicles and reach that 15-minute frequency mark - but it has taken time, coordination and some trial and error.
The system has not operated with perfection, very few start-up operations ever do. But we have delivered a fundamentally safe service as our paramount priority - with commitment to continue to improve, mature and grow. We have successfully established a true baseline for which we can track ourselves given that previous comparisons were in their best sense models' attempts to replicate a service that did not exist in Atlanta. The experiences of the Atlanta Streetcar are not unique -recruitment, retention and service reliability are challenges faced by transit agencies nationwide.
In conclusion, I reiterate what I said at the Streetcar ribbon-cutting event last year. “For those of you who constantly criticize the building of the Atlanta Streetcar, we didn't build it for you. We built it for your children and grandchildren and future Atlantans who seek a different kind of lifestyle.”
Related Tag: Transportation
November 20, 2015
By Maria Saporta
The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has awarded $10 million towards the rejuvenation of Centennial Olympic Park. A $25 million fundraising campaign to improve the park will launch in January, 2016 ─ all in an effort to mark the 20th anniversary of Atlanta's hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
It's hard to believe that 20 years ago, Centennial Olympic Park replaced acres and acres of parking lots and vacant industrial buildings.
The park, the most significant legacy from the Olympics, has become a new front door for Atlanta.
The park's owner, the Georgia World Congress Center, wants to reinvest and refresh the green space that has transformed downtown Atlanta.
The $25 million campaign includes the acquisition and demolition of the metro Atlanta chamber building and turning that into green space.
It also will create a new special events space and a new park's maintenance facility next to the aquarium. Major entrances to the park will be more welcoming to visitors and residents. The amphitheater will be upgraded and expanded with a band shell, a stage and additional seating.
And perhaps most symbolic of all ─ Andrew Young International Boulevard will become a pedestrian plaza, connecting the Fountain of the Rings with the rest of the park all on one level.
The public will have a new opportunity to buy commemorative bricks that will be placed in the plaza's pavement.
Ideally, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Atlanta business and philanthropic community will take this opportunity to highlight Atlanta's Olympic legacy.
The Olympic exhibit could be moved to the park. The flags of all nations that have hosted the Olympics since 1896 could decorate the green space. And plaques could be placed around the park, informing people of the role the games played in Atlanta's history.
Let's be bold and creative as we begin to spruce up Atlanta's front lawn.
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October 28, 2015
Atlanta and several other U.S. cities are getting more popular with tourists traveling from outside the U.S., according to TripAdvisor Inc.
A new study evaluates major U.S. tourism cities seeing the greatest increase in interest from international travelers according to searches on the travel website.
The Top 10 U.S. cities with the greatest increase in share of traffic. (Number listed is increase in interest year-over-year):
- Nashville - 38 percent
- Portland, Maine - 34 percent
- Atlanta - 33 percent
- Dallas - 27 percent
- New Orleans - 20 percent
- Boston - 19 percent
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 18 percent
- Miami Beach, Florida - 18 percent
- Houston - 16 percent
- San Antonio - 15 percent
The TripAdvisor ranking of Top 10 U.S. Cities with the Greatest Increase in Traffic from International Travelers is based on the largest year-over-year increases in share of international traffic sessions on TripAdvisor August 2014-2015 compared to August 2013-2014 for U.S. cities with at least 100 million sessions during this period of time.
October 20, 2015
Hosted annually in Downtown Atlanta, ELEVATE exhibits large scale public artwork and offers performance, educational opportunities and cultural experiences free to the public with the mission of instigating positive urban growth. The curator for ELEVATE 2015 is visual/performing artist and scholar Fahamu Pecou.
The goal of the this year’s event will be to generate a heightened sense of pride in the city of Atlanta and what it offers to the nation and the world. Operating under the theme F(orever) I L(ove) A(tl) – F.I.L.A., a 9-day celebration of what makes Atlanta unique and special through visual art, performances and events that showcase Atlanta – past, present and future. Inspired by its rise from the ashes of Sherman’s war campaign, Atlanta is represented by the phoenix. Today, she continues to reinvent herself. ELEVATE 2015 is a celebration of Atlanta, where she’s been, where she is now and where she is going!
Find out more at http://www.ocaatlanta.com/?programs=elevate
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