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The New South Comes of Age

Atlanta’s charms are embedded in a mix of cosmopolitan, diverse attractions and hometown, Southern graciousness. After General Sherman torched the city in 1864 at the end of the Civil War, Atlanta rebuilt and reinvented itself as the capital of the New South.

Today, with 3.2 million convention delegates and scores of individual business travelers, the city has a thriving commercial culture with upscale restaurants, luxury shopping centers and a fast, efficient public transportation system (MARTA) to avoid the legendary gridlock and ubiquitous highways. The home of corporate headquarters for CNN and Coca-Cola, and the former site of the 1996 Olympics, Atlanta is constantly growing in population and allure.

The Neighborhoods



Nestled in a quiet, wooded part of Buckhead, the Atlanta History Center has several permanent exhibits, including one on the Civil War and an impressive collection of photographs dating back to the late 19th century. The museum also has an exhibit tracing the city’s history from its settlement by the Indians through slavery, the rise of the railroads and modernization.

Behind the museum is the legendary Swan House, a 1928 neo-classical mansion currently undergoing a $4 million renovation. A guided tour of the gardens and interior—often featured in bridal magazines—presents a vision of refined living of the legendary family.

The Tullie Smith Farm, circa 1845, is also on the grounds with costumed docents demonstrating plantation-era cooking, blacksmithing and animal tending. A sprightly docent, Ms. Ruth, explained to visitors how difficult farm chores—weaving, making soap from lye and house cleaning—had been. Tel. (404) 365-8538 www.buckhead.org


An important part of Atlanta’s literary history can be found at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown where material on her life is exhibited along with information about the movie and book “Gone with the Wind.” Also in Midtown is the Woodruff Arts Center, a sweeping ultra-modern complex, conveniently located at a MARTA stop that includes the Alliance Theatre Company, the Atlanta College of Art and the High Museum of Art.

Allow about two hours to tour the High Museum. With a circular ramp and an open atrium, reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the space is friendly and well-lit. The small, eclectic holdings include works by Diane Arbus, Georgia O’Keefe and Mark Rothko, Art Deco glass, early American furniture and African masks.

One of the nicest among the several small parks is Piedmont with ample running and biking paths. It is also home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden where you can find a rose garden, walking paths and a lookout with a bench for daydreaming. Within the gardens, the Fuqua Conservatory displays tropical and desert plants. Tel. (404) 875-0342 www.midtownatlanta.org


Downtown Atlanta is compact and filled with office towers and tourist attractions. Underground Atlanta, a six-block shopping complex with over 100 specialty shops is located at the Five Points MARTA stop. Nearby is the World of Coca-Cola , which offers a whimsical walk through the history of the soft drink, which was introduced in 1886 as a “nervous tonic.”

Walking distance from Underground Atlanta is the CNN center, which offers a CNN store and guided tours of the news room. However, you need reservations for the CNN tour and they must be secured at least a day ahead of time. The standby line often entails long hours of waiting. Call ahead as the tours often fill up (404-827-2300).

The city’s rich, complicated history as a nexus of the Civil Rights Movement can be explored in films and exhibits at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King preached. The church recently re-opened after a long renovation. www.atlantadna.org


In Buckhead, a must-stop for breakfast or lunch is the Buckhead Bread Company serving fluffy eggs with grits, thick sandwiches, hearty soups and a huge selection of fresh breads and pastries. The high ceilings and Diego Rivera-like mural make for a homey, pleasant decor.

Buckhead Bread Company, 3365 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. Tel. 404-814-9990 and 404-814-1302. www.abcbuckhead.geomerx.com .

Stop for an unforgettable lunch, dinner or brunch at Agnes & Muriel’s, a charming cafe with top-notch new Southern cuisine, located near the Botanical Garden. Choose mountain trout with cornbread almond stuffing, pork chops with apple cinnamon fritters, Southern-style veggies or a fried green tomato BLT.

Agnes & Muriel’s 1514 Monroe Drive, Atlanta, GA 30324. Tel. 404-885-1000. www.mominthekitchen.com


Sheraton Buckhead Hotel is recently renovated and has large lovely rooms, a cafe with reliable new American cuisine and is in a great location. One block from the MARTA, it is directly across the street from Atlanta’s largest mall, Lenox Square, and a block from tony Phipps Plaza. Both have A-list shops, national chains, movie theaters, food courts and restaurants.

Sheraton Buckhead Hotel, 3405 Lenox Rd. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30326. Tel. 404-261-9250 , 800-331-3131 www.sheraton.com/buckhead.com

Emily Fancher

Spring 2002