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That Atlanta's even a city in the first place

Shortly after the Civil War, Ohio newsman Whitelaw Reid visited Atlanta and encountered barren land and madmen.

"The soil of the country, for many miles in all directions, is poor," he wrote. "But the people were infected with the mania of city building."

This line, plucked from the archives by author LeeAnn Lands for her book The Culture of Property: Race, Class, and Housing Urban Landscapes in Atlanta 1880-1950, underscores the fact that Atlanta, a city that was founded as a simple railroad hub, maybe should never have made it this far. But its people never gave up.

No matter what kind of obstacles or challenges have been in its way — we couldn't even grow food! — Atlanta's residents persevered.

Union troops drop a match and leave most of the city in flames during the Civil War? Nothing a few bricks and mortar won't fix. Tornadoes rip through town, from Vine City to East Atlanta? Comes with the territory. Water shortage? Cross your fingers and pray for a legal victory over neighboring states that claim the natural resource is theirs. (Or just pray for rain, as former Gov. Sonny Perdue did during the 2007 drought.) An interstate? Let's just build it smack-dab in the middle of the city. And then keep building it. That'll solve everything.

Maybe we should acknowledge that we're tempting fate and delaying metro Atlanta's inevitable devastation. Or maybe we just have a lot of fight.



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