Neighborhoods - Neighborhood Issue 2014

Residents showcase the underappreciated charms of their neighborhoods

My husband and I recently bought a house. For years we’d rented a tiny apartment in downtown Avondale Estates. We chose the spot because the old building had charm, if not central air or a dishwasher, and it was close to downtown Decatur. Also, it was dirt cheap. At the time, downtown Avondale felt a little like a ghost town, most of its storefronts either vacant or questionably occupied. But over nearly five years of living there I came to love Avondale for all of its underappreciated and kinda wacky charm. The crumbling façades of its Tudor-Revival architecture. The seemingly never-open Waffle House Museum. The regulars at Avondale Pizza Café’s bar. The serenity of a jog around Lake Avondale. The countless thrift stores.

When my desire for a dishwasher became too strong we started looking for houses and quickly found one. We live in Cabbagetown now and love it. Like Avondale it’s close to a bike path and two MARTA stops. It’s walkable and the neighbors are friendly. But the change in neighborhoods feels bittersweet.

The month we moved out Pallookaville opened. A record store is setting up a block from our old place. Another restaurant is going in across from Pallookaville. The Your DeKalb Farmers Market in nearby Scottdale is expanding. We left just as Avondale was getting a new burst of energy. It’s only a quick drive or train ride away, but it’s different when you live there. When it’s your neighborhood where the exciting things finally start happening.

For this year’s Neighborhood Issue, we wanted to capture that sense of pride Atlantans have for their neighborhoods. The best way to do that, we figured, was a series of offbeat tours from neighborhood residents that showcase the underappreciated and wacky charms of 23 intown communities. In this issue, you’ll find a late-night patrol in Castleberry Hill with the Crimson Fist, a tour of the Westside on horseback with the Urban Cowboy, a dog walk through Buckhead, a crack-of-dawn workout in Midtown’s Piedmont Park, and more, as well as lists of the residents’ favorite neighborhood haunts.

This issue also launches fundraising for our next two Do Good projects, Creative Loafing’s ongoing partnership with local grassroots nonprofits to help fund cool ideas that will better Atlanta neighborhoods. The first is a collaboration between Sopo Bicycle Co-op and the Gateway Center to provide Atlanta’s homeless with bikes. The second is an urban farming project by S.E.E.D.S. Global that will help bring food to Westside food deserts.

Exciting things are happening in neighborhoods all over the city, but you can only live in one at a time. Tag along with our tour guides for a look at Atlanta from the people who know it best.

— Debbie Michaud, editor in chief