Tag Archive | Atlanta

Atlanta 2018: Martin Luther King, Jr. NHP

My last day in Atlanta, I only had a partial day, because I needed to make my way back to the airport.  I went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park.  I walked there, as it was only about a mile from my hotel, and was a really simple walk – with only a few turns.

I got there about 10 am and went to the Visitor’s Center.  They explained that I wouldn’t be able to go inside the home where MLR, Jr. was born, because they had a big tour group at the site that day who had taken up all the tickets.  Sad…

I checked out the Visitor’s Center and the exhibits.  Martin Luther King, Jr. lived a fascinating life.  The Visitor’s Center touched on all the major points; King following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and becoming a Reverend, his early Civil Rights work, his time in the Birmingham Jail, the bus boycott his work with the lunch counters and sit ins, and his work on the Poor People’s campaign and the sanitation worker’s strike at the end of his life.

There was an exhibit on his funeral service and the mule drawn cart that carried King’s body in his funeral procession.  At the time, it was no longer common to have mule drawn carts, but they wanted to symbolism his commitment to working with the poor and disadvantaged.  They ended up “borrowing” a cart and leaving a note about where it had gone.  The owner was more than happy to have helped in the end.

There are also many of his speeches playing on TV screens, and I watched those for a bit.  He really was a very charismatic orator; I can see why people were drawn to his message and his methods.  I also walked the Freedom Walk, with lifelike statues depicting some of the men and women who marched with King for their own rights and freedoms.  I take these freedoms for granted, both being born white and in a later time; it was powerful to reflect on the people who had to fight hard for the rights that I enjoy without effort.

I saw the outside of the house he was born in, which had belonged to his grandparents at the time (his parents were living there).  It is a middle-class two story home for the 1920s, similar to so many of the day.  I also visited Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached.  I could imagine his booming voice delivering the sermon to his congregants.  The church is actually fairly large.  It did seem odd to me to have Park Rangers answering questions and directing people in this sacred space though.  The church was busy enough, that it still felt like it must have an active congregation, although I don’t think it does.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta are entombed in a reflecting pool at the site; there is also an eternal flame burning.  Before I visited, I didn’t know this and wasn’t expecting to see their graves.  I would want a quieter place for my eternal rest, but I guess we all want something different.

After my visit, it was time to walk back to the hotel; the same mile long walk through the historic black neighborhood that King lived in.  I got an unmemorable sandwich for lunch, picked up my bags at the hotel, and made my way to the airport on the subway.

My flight home was uneventful except for one laughable statement.  The young woman seated in the window seat (I was in the aisle seat), commented to my neighbor that we had experienced little turbulence because the pilot had taken us on a southerly route in order to miss the Rocky Mountains.  Hmmm… Atlanta to Seattle… I didn’t have the heart to tell her she needed to brush up on her geography…

And with that, another vacation concluded…

 

Atlanta 2018: Atlanta History Center Homes

In my last post, I told you about the indoor exhibits at the Atlanta History Center.  After seeing them, I then headed outside to check out the historic homes.  There are three historic homes, from two different periods in Georgia history on the site.

The homes there are amazing.  When you head outside, first you come upon the Robert Smith Family Farm, which was an antebellum hog farm, built in the 1840s.  The family was well off for the times, owning about 800 acres, and up to 13 slaves.  They raised six children in their small home.  They had sheep, goats and a house cat on site at the history center, but no pigs.  Pigs are probably harder to deal with on a museum farm…  You can tour the cabin, and see an old slave quarters, which is original but was not originally on the Smith Farm.  You can also look at the goats and sheep and even see cotton growing.

 

Next I went over to the Swan House, which was built in 1928 by Edward and Emily Inman.  Edward was a very successful businessman, and Emily was known for her work for charitable and civic causes, including women’s suffrage.  The house has period docents, in character, playing the parts of Edward and Emily, their maids, and the home’s architect, Philip Trammell Shutze.  You can wander the house at your leisure and ask questions of the docents.

The home is very nice; it was acquired by the Atlanta Historical Society in 1966 with almost all of the family’s original furnishings.  It has all the bells and whistles, including an intercom system, and my favorite, historic toilets!  This is the first time I have seen a wicker toilet.

 

Downstairs in the Swan House is an exhibit on the collections of Philip Trammell Shutze, the architect.  He had quite a fascination with Chinese culture and collected furniture, ceramics and other artwork, and had an extensive variety of items.  It was neat to see, and nice that they explained the connection to the Swan House, because otherwise it would have seemed out of place.

The last building on site at the Atlanta History Center is the Wood Family Cabin. The cabin was built in the 1840s, and was originally located in Piedmont, Georgia, before being moved to the site.  Even the Elias Wood family was considered fairly well off, at least well off enough to own a slave; they farmed and hunted. I was unable to find out any more about the cabin though.  It is located off in the woods of the history center, and I didn’t see anyone else on my walk there.

I really enjoyed these historic homes at the Center!

Atlanta 2018: Atlanta History Center Exhibits

Day 5, Friday, January 26, 2018

Friday was my last full day in Atlanta and I decided to head over to the Atlanta History Center.  I took the subway over – the furthest distance I had traveled on the subway so far, and then had to walk about a mile to get to the Center.  It is an easy walk through a busy neighborhood with a sidewalk, but there was lot of traffic on that road, passing lots of big hotels, chain stores and strip malls, so it isn’t really much of a leisurely, scenic walk.

The center has multiple parts.  A full museum inside, an annex building with a special exhibit, and three historic homes outside, two of which have been moved to the property.  This place is fascinating!

Inside the museum, there were exhibits on Atlanta’s history from its founding to the present day.  It touched a little bit on the Civil War, but focused more on businesses and industries in Atlanta, its civic pride, and daily life.  I have to admit the KKK shield was disturbing, but an important reminder of the dark side of our history.

 

Another exhibit went into detail on the Civil War and had a lot of great artifacts.  The exhibit explained which major events were happening during each year of the war.  It told about life in camp, life at home, the customs of mourning the dead, and about the occupation of the south by the Union Army.

 

Another exhibit explored the Trail of Tears, and the removal of the Cherokee and other tribes, but it didn’t go into as much detail as I would have liked.  They did have a lot of first-hand accounts from Native Americans about their present-day experience and the experience of their ancestors.

Another exhibit was on folk art objects and they had a lot!  There was crockery, from the 1600s all the way up to present day, musical instruments, furniture, and tools.  It was really interesting to see how some items have changed over time, and others really haven’t!

 

I did skip the exhibit on golfer Bobby Jones; I have just never been much into sports and I am really not into golf…  I am sure that golf enthusiasts would find it fascinating, but there are a few things that I just can’t muster up the motivation for…

I had lunch at Souper Jenny, the onsite café, and it was really good.  I had a soup and salad combo, which came with a roll and cookie.  It was so much food that I saved my roll and cookie for later and ended up eating those for dinner instead of going out.

I would have liked to see the special exhibit on the Doughboys of World War I, but I wanted to see the historic homes outside first and by the time I was finished, I was a bit worn out.  Sometimes you can’t see it all, but I will share about the center’s historic home exhibits next!

Atlanta 2018: Margaret Mitchell House

Day 5, Thursday, January 25, 2018

After the High Museum and lunch, I made my way over to the Margaret Mitchell Museum; if you don’t recognize the name, she wrote Gone with the Wind.  She was an affluent, very intelligent and ambitious woman who started writing the book as a distraction as she was recovering from a broken leg.

The “Dump” – Mitchell’s apartment was in the lower left corner of the house

My guide at the museum was excellent; he was a graduate student studying Mitchell for his thesis.  I was all alone on my tour (fortunately I got there right after the big bus tour departed), and we had some pretty interesting conversations about Mitchell and the book.  He encouraged me to think about Scarlett O’Hara, and imagine her coming of age in the flapper era, which of course, was exactly when Mitchell was writing the book.

Scarlett and Margaret Mitchell were both women ahead of their time, of course you know about Scarlett’s story, but Mitchell divorced an alcoholic, abusive husband at a time when divorce was uncommon, and later married her ex-husband’s friend (the best man at her first wedding).  She worked as a journalist, but actually talked her way into the job with no experience.

Mitchell’s second husband was a business manager, so she wasn’t really very affected by the Great Depression, which was occurring during the time as well.  The guide and I talked about the fact that Mitchell’s grandfathers were Civil War officers for the Confederacy, so of course her view of the Old South, the war, and slavery were deeply shaped by the stories that she heard growing up.  Gone with the Wind is one of the books that is often considered for book ban lists, but it is important to learn about all perspectives on history, not just the one that is politically correct now. Despite your viewpoint, it was a pivotal novel of the time and remains so today.

Interesting, the guide and museum exhibits shared that the US military took copies of Gone with the Wind over to Japan after the defeat of Japan in World War II. They thought that the story would resonate with the Japanese people – rising up from the ashes and overcoming obstacles to rebuild your life.  They suspected (and were right), that if he could give the Japanese people something to connect with, they would be more likely to maintain the motivation to overcome their hardships and rebuild their lives.  Gone with the Wind is extremely popular to this day with the Japanese market – and the bus tour I mentioned earlier was filled with Japanese tourists! I never knew that!  A quick internet search couldn’t corroborate this story, so who knows, but it seems plausible, given the popularity of the novel in Japan.

Mitchell’s writing process was interesting – she wrote the chapters of the book out of order and then stashed them all over the house in manila envelopes.  She stuffed envelopes in drawers, under couch cushions, and sometimes lost them.  She started her book at the end.

Mitchell’s living room (not her furniture)

 

Margaret Mitchell’s writing area (not her furniture)

The tour takes place in the apartment that Mitchell lived in after marrying her second husband.  She called it “The Dump”, but it was a fairly nice apartment for the time, and she did have a black servant.  The house it was in contained several apartments, and was abandoned after she lived there and later in was purchased in order to renovate it for the museum.  When the historical society was almost finished, someone set the building on fire, but fortunately the area of the house that contained Mitchell’s former apartment wasn’t badly damaged and they rebuilt it after the fire.

Mitchell’s Kitchen, looking into the bedroom

 

Margaret Mitchell’s Bedroom (not her furniture)

The furniture is period, rather than having belonged to Mitchell, but you still get an idea of what it would have been like when she lived there.  I thought it was actually a pretty decent, and pretty large, apartment.

Once I got back to the hotel, I went out to eat at Pitty Pat’s Porch, just around the corner from my hotel. I sat in the bar, and ordered a German Riesling, which I ended up getting for free because the bartender forgot about me for a while.  Oops.  I ordered the Shrimp and Grits, which came with their version of a salad bar.  There were all sorts of traditional southern “salad” foods – including pickled watermelon rind.  To be honest the pickled watermelon rind doesn’t taste like much, and was kind of weird.  The shrimp and grits were amazing though!

 

Atlanta 2018: The High Museum of Art

Day 5, Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday morning I got up early and took the subway over to the High Museum of Art.  The High Museum was founded in 1905 and its first permanent home was a residence that had been donated.  Today it has a home in a complete art center, and the museum is home to over 15,000 works of art, and is considered one of the premier art museums in the south.

I started on the top floor, like the woman at the ticket counter suggested, but found that it was the modern art exhibit, and not really what I like.  It was weird, but at least it wasn’t bizarre!  I really liked the second and third floors that had more traditional art.  There were paintings and sculptures, cut glass, majolica, furniture (including lots of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture).  They had a room of religious art and icons, and a lot of portraits.  They also have a collection of mid-century home décor.  The High Museum really has an interesting and widespread collection and I really enjoyed wandering through all the rooms.

I have chosen a few of my favorites to show you in photos – I hope you enjoy them as well!

After I saw the collections, I went across the courtyard to have lunch at Twelve Eighty Café, which is named after the address number for the Woodruff Art Center, which includes the High Museum.  I had the Deviled Eggs appetizer (5 for $5), and the Baja Signature Mahi Mahi tacos with fries.  I also had a Pom Collins cocktail, which had Tito’s Vodka, Pomegranate Liqueur, house-made sour mix, simple syrup, mint and pomegranate seeds.  The deviled eggs were good, the fries were just ok, and the tacos and Pom Collins were excellent!

Costs: Museum admission is $14.50.

 

Atlanta 2018: Polaris

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After the State Capitol Museum, I had a quick appetizer at Ted’s Montana Grill again – the Bison Chili Nachos – so messy and so YUMMY!

Then I went over to Polaris.  Polaris is the rotating restaurant at the top of the Hyatt Regency hotel.  It is so cool!  You check in with the receptionist and then she sends you up to the bar in a fancy high speed elevator.  I just went for appetizers, to make it more affordable, but they do offer dinner.

I had the charcuterie plate, which had a selection of delicious meats and cheeses along with honey harvested from their rooftop beehives (yea, this place is fancy!).  I also had a scallops appetizer that was to die for!  I had two cocktails too – the St. Nick, and a cranberry cocktail – both were excellent!

 

The service was great, and my server had been working for Polaris since they first opened years ago.  It was certainly worth the visit, and the sunset was great to see (but impossible to photograph well).

Atlanta 2018: National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After my CNN tour, I went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The outside

The mural in the entryway of the museum

They had a powerful exhibit called, “The Lunch Counter.”  You sit at the lunch counter and put on headphones.  You listen to men yelling and screaming at you; threatening to kill you.  The counter and your chair both shake as if the men are shaking you from behind, like it happened in the 1960s.  It was very powerful and emotional.

The Lunch Counter

There was also an exhibit on Martin Luther King, Jr., and his work.  It started with his work as a Reverend, and moved into his Civil Rights work, and ultimately his assassination and the effect it had on the country.  It was very detailed, and the exhibit discussed the major events that occurred during the Civil Rights movement.  The Emmett Till murder, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, and more were covered to give visitors a holistic overview of the events of the time.

It was very good, but I didn’t feel it was quite balanced.  It was more the hero worship variety, and I like my history with the good and the bad parts of people.  The exhibit didn’t touch on Martin Luther King Jr.’s flaws; the fact that he had multiple affairs, or the fact that toward the end of his life, he was aligning himself more with groups that advocated for violent protest as a means to achieve Civil Rights Reform.  Not all of his supporters agreed with this shift.

An exhibit on King’s assassination

The Center also had an exhibit on the various abusers of human rights throughout history; political leaders who committed crimes against their own or conquered peoples.  Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Augusto Pinochet were all included in the exhibit.

A few of the world’s worst killers

Downstairs there was a special exhibit of the Reverend King’s papers and writings.  It was interesting to see history up close and in MLK Jr.’s own hand-written and typed pages.

Some Human Rights Laws in the U.S.

There are lots of good exhibits at the Center.  They did take some liberties though…  They had an exhibit on role models in Civil Rights history that included all of Eleanor Roosevelt’s great work for disadvantaged groups, but they didn’t mention her anti-semitism before and during World War II.  As I mentioned before, they also didn’t include anything about King’s flaws.  We are all flawed beings, and I think it is better to shed the light on it, so people get the whole story.  Even so, it was certainly worth the visit!

Costs: Admission was $19.99, or included with the Atlanta City Pass.

Atlanta 2018: CNN Studio Tour

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tuesday and Wednesday morning I had conference sessions but then I was back to touristing – I went on a CNN Studio Tour!  CNN Studios occupies a giant building that was previously a hotel – part of it still is a hotel – this building is huge.

Architecturally, I learned that the CNN building has the longest free standing escalator in the world.  It goes up 8 stories without stopping at a floor!  While the escalator was cool, and I got to ride on it for the first part of the tour, it isn’t really the main purpose of the tour.  You do get a great view looking down at the courtyard area of the building, with shops and a food court down below.

I had Sarah H. as my tour guide, and she showed my group around the various areas. I got to see one of the newsrooms, where hundreds of people were packed in like cattle in a stockyard (I mean, they had their own desks and all, but not even any cubicle walls!).  They were all doing research on breaking stories and there were news tickers and televisions lining the upper walls of the room, monitoring news from around the world.  It was pretty amazing and sad to me just how much news does NOT make it into our living rooms.

I also got to see an anchor doing a live broadcast.  It wasn’t someone I recognize, but I don’t get the CNN channels at home, and they apparently have several different channels.  I got to do at a mock news desks for photos, and Sarah explained how the anchors all wear earpieces and how the producers can talk into their ears during a broadcast, directing a live interview or asking them to change topics during the show.  It must be tough to concentrate on your interview if you have someone talking into your ear.

So, should I quit my day job? Errr… Wait…

Other than the mock newsroom, you aren’t allowed to take photos on the tour though…  After my tour, I had some iced tea at the Starbucks in the food court and watched the goings on of the giant building.  It was then I noticed it even had its own Atlanta Police Department precinct office!

Costs: $15.00 per person for the tour.

Atlanta 2018: World of Coca-Cola

Day 2, Monday, January 22, 2018 (morning)

In the morning, I went over to the World of Coca-Cola Museum.  I had heard good things about this place online, and hoped it was worth the kind of steep price tag of $17 for admission.  It is possible to drink your weight (or at least $17 worth) in Coca-Cola there though, so there’s that.  On the walk from my hotel, I walked through Centennial Olympic Park, which was one of the sites from the 1996 Olympic Games.  There is a fountain/spray park with a timed musical show, and some statues to see there, along with a little garden.

The docent leads you in and goes through the canned spiel, showing some Coca-Cola artifacts.  Note: there are a lot of Coca-Cola artifacts out there in the world!  Once she gives the spiel, you get spit out into a theater, to watch the Coca-Cola movie.  It’s actually a pretty well done movie, that gives you all the Coca-Cola feels.  Who knew a soft drink could make you fall in love?  Apparently I have not been drinking enough of this stuff lately, if this is the secret to a lasting and satisfying relationship!

After the movie, you are free to wander around at your leisure; exhibits include an area on the “secret formula,” how it is guarded, who gets to know, what rumors have circulated about the formula, etc.  I found it to be directed more towards children.  One exhibit shows a ton of memorabilia and historic Coca-Cola stuff, including a replica of an old fashioned soda fountain.

The museum also has a replica bottling line, that shows you just how bottles of Coke are filled.  It has factoids printed on the windows, so you can see how much water the process uses, how many bottles can be filled each minute, and information of the like.  That was really interesting and I enjoyed watching the bottling line.  I found no one in this area, so I guess I am the only one who found this fascinating.  It was one of my favorite parts of the museum.

Water Treatment on the Bottling Line

There are exhibits on Olympic torches too, which have really become high tech over the years!  Upstairs, there is an area with Coca-Cola artwork.  Artists have tried their hand at decorating giant Coca-Cola bottles; some are very well done.

Olympic Torches

In the tasting room area, there are spigots dispensing over 160 Coca-Cola products from all over the world.  You can try as many as you like.  Not all are sodas; many are juices, and it is interesting to see what becomes a juice in other countries.  Some of them were really good, but I probably don’t need that much sugar!

So, my verdict. Interesting, but not really worth the price, and don’t expect it to keep you entertained for long.  I think I only spent an hour there, and I was kind of trying to go slow…

I had lunch at Baja Fresh and had the Blackened Shrimp Salad – for fast food it was super delicious!  They did run out of avocado though, so I didn’t get to have that on my salad; to make up for it he gave me extra shrimp!  And they had guacamole in the condiment bar, so I had that on top and it was pretty close to being like avocado.  YUM!!

Cost: $17.00 for general admission, free with the Atlanta City Pass

Atlanta 2018: Flying

Day 1, Sunday, January 21, 2018

It was January, and it was stormy…  As a result, I didn’t sleep well for the few hours of sleep I got before my flight.  It was very windy at my house, and I don’t sleep well in the wind.  Add to that the fact that I had to be on the 2:10 am shuttle!  Wow.  My flight out was at 6:30 in the morning, and it was a bumpy ride until I was over the Rockies.

I got to Atlanta, grabbed a late lunch/early dinner while still at the airport and then managed to navigate the subway downtown.  My hotel was right downtown, but about two blocks away from Peachtree Street so it was less expensive than some of the others.  They upgraded me to a suite, so I had a bedroom and living room, with two flat screen TVs!  I am not much of a TV watcher though, so that isn’t such a draw for me.  It was a historic hotel with a quirky inner courtyard with windows looking down on it, so it was a pretty cool place!

I got some snacks and a bottle of wine from a shop close to my hotel, and that was that.  That first evening was a very quiet and early night, since I was tired from being awake most of the night before!

Hotel: Hampton Inn and Suites, Atlanta Downtown