Time and Place: Billion dollar shadow

Photo credit:

In the shadow of Atlanta's newest and shiniest stadium there is a community. You might not know it because it goes largely unnoticed and unmentioned when talking about Atlanta, as if the city drops off a cliff west of Northside Drive.

Often lumped in with Downtown or completely forgotten, members of the historic westside neighborhoods West End, Castleberry Hill, Vine City, and Washington Park have played a huge role in making Atlanta what it is today. But before the city and Atlanta Falcons decided to build a new stadium and pledged tens of millions of dollars to invest in the area, these communities have been largely overlooked. 

With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday coming up, I tried to explore some of the civil rights leader's thoughts through photographs. What better way to explore King's words than on a street bearing his name just two miles away from his alma mater, Morehouse College. I particularly focused making a photo that pointed to examples of poverty and the wealth gap in this majority-black community.

Across the street from the new (and admittedly stunning) Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one finds empty lots littered with trash, abandoned dorms from when Morris Brown College had enough students to fill them, and homeless Atlantans sleeping in the tunnels of children's playgrounds. The Atlanta Public Schools bus in front of the $1.5 billion stadium was especially striking.

I wonder what those students at Bethune Elementary and Booker T. Washington High, two underperforming schools that are eligible for state takeover and located nearby, are getting from this stadium deal. How will they profit from this behemoth of a project in a way that will improve their lives and their community?

Mayor Kasim Reed and team leaders have promised an economic boost to the community. But how will that help the youth, many of whom will likely be active members of this community for decades? After all, the city has still not made payments to APS related to the Atlanta Beltline. Will this project and the years following it truly revitalize the community? Or simply add $30 million worth of glaze to the neighborhood? And will its residents be forgotten yet again?

In this photo I see visions of progress, future, prosperity, and hope. But for who? I see progress on the stadium but not yet in the neighborhoods surrounding it. I see a future where the roof of this building retracts and expand like a camera lens. But I don't so much of a future for all the businesspeople in this area. I see prosperity for some, but I hope for prosperity for all, even if they're located in the shadow on the "wrong" side of Northside Drive.

More By This Writer


Thursday June 16, 2016 10:14 am EDT

Atlanta's long wait for bulky, bright-blue bicycles that people can rent by the minute is over.

City officials and residents last week endured stifling heat and cut the ribbon on Relay, Atlanta's bike share program. The program operated by CycleHop launched with 100 two-wheelers placed at 10 racks locations throughout Downtown. The city say 500 bikes will be placed by the end of the...

| more...


Tuesday April 19, 2016 12:50 am EDT
The Biebs Invades Philips Arena | more...


Tuesday October 20, 2015 12:54 pm EDT
For me, listening to someone talk about something they are passionate about is enthralling, but getting a chance to watch them do it step by step is inspiring. In the 2015 Food Issue we found a few people in Atlanta who were really good at what they do. It was an opportunity to go "behind the scenes" on things as commonplace as plating a chicken leg or making a latte or creating a flaming... | more...


Tuesday September 8, 2015 01:28 pm EDT
image-1 ? ? Clusterfest once again took over Atlanta this past Labor Day weekend. The extensive number of events ranging from the ever popular Dragon Con to Atlanta Black Pride taking over Piedmont Park  means there was no excuse to spend the holiday weekend bored inside the house. Even if you did spend the weekend indoors, we've put together a sampling of photos from... | more...


Thursday August 27, 2015 10:03 am EDT

? On Saturday, Aug. 22, local activists filled two large balloons with helium and lifted a banner high into the air, partially obscuring the controversial carving of three Confederate generals carved into the world's largest exposed granite monolith. According to a petition launched by organizers, the activists were protesting Coca-Cola's sponsorship of Stone Mountain Park, which...

| more...
Search for more by Eric Cash

[Admin link: Time and Place: Billion dollar shadow]

Spider for Time and Place: Billion dollar shadow