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Archive for November, 2011

In late November of each year, families will pack up their things and travel across country to visit their “loved” ones.  These families will sit around a table, eat a bunch of food and watch a lot of football.  Later that night, they will leave their turkey (and alcohol) induced comas and enter the annual free-for-all event known as Black Friday.  This invented holiday represents not only the start of the Christmas season, but has also been the busiest retail day each year since 2005.

Needless to say, this in-store Starbucks was packed

When we last left the department store with Gunther Barth, we discussed  how it, along with other “new” urban structures such as ballparks and the metro press, helped form a sense of community among such a vast amount of people.  As far as the department store went, it allowed everyone in the city to buy from the same choice of readily-available items.  Since everyone knew what else the other options were, the choice of item indicated status.

Black Friday represents an inversion of that idea, as the choice of items does not create a sense of community.  Rather, the choice breaks down a sense of community – at least not into any community I want to be a part of.  First off, the stores discount prices on many of the products they think will sell the best, namely electronics (depending on the store).  These discounts could be anywhere around 50% off, which waters down the status association with items.  Although the items retain their status associations, they are discounted enough to allow even lower-income families to afford them.  For example, a lower-income family can buy a fairly large TV because it has been discounted down to $100.

Because someone actually needs this

Because these items are marked down so much, the competition over them prevents a sense of community from forming between the shoppers.  Take, for example, the California woman that acted like a police officer at an Occupy protest and pepper sprayed a group of people so she could get an Xbox 360. (NOTE: Recent evidence suggest she might have been acting in self defense).  While not all of the Black Friday shoppers are going around blasting people in the face with pepper spray, this is just an example of the violence that could break out between shoppers competing for bargains.  Most, however, simply get in line early so they can get in the store first and have the most access to those bargains.  I spoke to a woman sitting at the front of a line outside of a Belk’s.  She got there two hours before I spoke to her in near-freezing temperatures, and the store did not yet open for another two and a half hours.  Funny thing is, she didn’t even want anything in the store – Belk’s was just giving away a gift card to the first few people in line.

Risking frostbite for whatever the heck they sell at Belk

Speaking of long lines, they seem to be the only place where a community could form.  Like the department stores Barth described, retail centers on Black Friday attract people from a geographically widespread area.  The difference between Barth’s department stores and today’s discount stores is that the department stores did not have to deal with suburbanization. Since modern cities are more spread out than they once were due to suburbanization, people will come from further out.  Atlanta, for example, was recently named the fourth busiest city on Black Friday in the United States.  Since our great city was ranked up with urban centers such as New York, I would imagine that it could be even busier per capita than the other cities.  Perhaps seeking to escape some of the crowds in the city, Atlantans will venture far out just to find that deal.

Take note - this image was taken well outside 285

Although the simple fact that these stores have a limited area condenses the different shoppers anyway, the crowd is not evenly distributed throughout the store.  Don’t expect to find that many people in the cleaning supplies section of the store.  Rather, the checkout lines are what tend to dominate.  I went to one Best Buy where the line wrapped around the perimeter of the store…twice.  Meanwhile, a nearby Target had two different checkout lines, one of which was just for the electronics section.  While the electronics checkout line stretched almost to the back of the store, the main one actually zigzagged (that’s a word) through the 20 or so different isles of food.

I doubt this many people want "New Age Beverage"

Sources:

Gunther Barth, City People (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1980).

http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/25/business/money-black-friday-incidents/index.html

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When the City of Atlanta was awarded the 1996 Summer Olympics, the rush was on to transform the city into an international center fitting to host the 197 nations, their athletes, and supporters. The city was able to incorporate many of the sites already constructed around the Metropolitan area to host different events. Gunther Barth defined the city as a place where visitors and dwellers can find shelter within their own community, whether it be at the ballpark, the department store, or theaters.(1) The City of Atlanta began to develop the city into a site for sporting events, tourism, and cultural boosterism. Several of these locations included the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, the Omni Center, the Georgia Dome and even the Georgia World Congress Center hosted various events including boxing.(2) The city built several different arenas to host some of the events including the Georgia International Horse Park and the Centennial Olympic Stadium. Following the Olympics, Centennial Olympic Stadium was redeveloped into Turner Field, the new hosting sight for the Atlanta Braves.(3) The stadium had been designed to easily be redeveloped for this purpose. Turner Field is shown in picture 1. The Horse Park is still in use as a site for many different events including horse shows, cross country events, and an annual Christmas Light attraction. The sign of the Horse Park is shown in picture 2. In an attempt to boost tourism throughout the region, Atlanta developed the Centennial Olympic Park; the marker is shown in picture 3. In an interesting twist to lure tourism outside of the city itself, the University of Georgia transformed its “Four Towers” barn, shown in picture 4, into the university’s new visitors Center in hopes of having an appealing center for the many visitors expected to flood the campus during the Olympics.(4) Sanford Stadium, the university’s football stadium, hosted soccer games during the 1996 Olympics. Following the closing of the games, the torch was moved to the opposite side of the demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to the site where it still remains, as seen in picture 5. The Olympic Village was built adjacent to the Georgia Tech football stadium to house the athletes while they stayed through the weeks of the Summer Games. After the games concluded, the village was bought by Georgia State University to use as dorms, and have since then been bought by Georgia Tech to use as dorms. The village can be seen in picture 6. The City of Atlanta was successfully able to integrate its original infrastructure to host the Olympic Games, and was able to effectively integrate the new infrastructure into the cities everyday uses following the Closing Ceremonies in 1996.

1 Gunther Barth, City People (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1980).
2 Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, The official report of the Centennial Olympic Games (Atlanta: Peachtree, 1997).
3 John Schuerholz, Built to win: inside stories and leadership strategies from baseball’s winningest General Manager (New York: Warner Books, 2006).
4 “Visit UGA: History”, http://visit.uga.edu/index.php/visitors-center/history/

 

Montana Hamby

[1]  Turner Field, home of the Braves, after being transformed from the original Centennial Olympic Stadium.

[2] Georgia International Horse Park is still being utilized for many different types of events.

[3] Centennial Olympic Park is the long lasting monument in honor of hosting the games.

[4] The “Four Towers” was transformed from a barn into the UGA Visitors Center in 1996.

[5] The torch that held the Olympic flame as seen from the now demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

[6] Olympic Village was transformed into Georgia State dormitories, and are now dormitories owned by Georgia Tech.

 

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The mass production of the automobile at the beginning of the 20th Century has created many challenges for the modern American city. One of these challenges faced by city planners and the society living in the city alike is the issue of parking.[1] While some cities of the upper Northeast such as New York, Boston, and Chicago over time have converted to systems of mass public transit such as elaborate subway lines, the city of Atlanta still relies on citizen’s use of their own cars for transportation to get in, out, and around the city. Since Atlanta citizens and workers have adapted to a driving culture, the work of city planners to incorporate the multi-level parking decks has become vital the city’s history and future.[2]

 

 

 

 
On June 3rd, 1925 the first multilevel parking deck was opened in Atlanta which laid out the foundation for the evolution of how people park in the city[3] Though the daily routines of the parking deck have changed from full service valet to self-park, the function of the parking deck has not altered as it finally provided the city with needed internal development. The parking deck allows for people to gather within the city in mass numbers and be organized at their destination. It promotes social and economic development by allowing people to travel and gather at malls and department stores with ease. Another important aspect of the parking garage is that it allows for cities to be built upwards instead of outwards, as people can more or less park on top of each other in these “car hotels”.[1]

 

 

 

 
The creation of the parking deck gave way to a driving city culture that has allowed for Atlanta to sprawl out and even the creation of a multitude of edge cities in the area. In the same way the parking deck has allowed for masses of people to meet, shop, and work in the confined areas of the modern downtown city. Due to Atlanta’s underdeveloped mass transit systems the presence of cars as transportation in the city is essential to the cities success. Therefore, as the city continues to grow and develop, the continuous integration of the parking deck is vital in assisting the driving culture and the overall social and economic promotion of the city.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

[1] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120545290

[2]Teaford, Jon C. The Metropolitan Revolution: the Rise of Post-urban America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

[3] http://pecannelog.com/2010/06/12/this-week-in-history-atlantas-first-parking-deck/

Barth, Gunther. City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. Oxford University Press: New York. 1980.

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This Hispanic dentist office within the Plaza Fiesta shopping center on Buford Highway stuck out to me immediately after reading Gunther Barth’s chapter in City People about the department store. In Barth’s story an aunt and her nephew are “regularly interrupted” by the ladies department store on the way home from the dentist’s office located on Wall Street. [1] This story I would imagine is a common one for both children and parents frequenting the Kool Smiles Dentist.

Plaza Fiesta has become a cultural epicenter in the Buford Highway/Chamblee area with its shopping centers and even attractive nightlife for the local neighborhoods. It is an easy argument that the Plaza Fiesta shopping center brings patrons who are looking for culturally sensitive items as well as the Hispanic atmosphere that the Hispanic culture can identify with, shop, and socially gather comfortably. This collection of Hispanic shops and restaurants is a attractive epicenter for Hispanic culture and through its attractiveness to the surrounding community the Plaza Fiesta shopping center is also attracting other businesses and shops which then turns right back into developing the Hispanic community and culture in the North Atlanta area even further. As Gunther Barth equated this rise and evolution of the department store as a “focal point for downtown life”. [2] Through my research and observations I feel it is safe to say that Plaza Fiesta’s department store and shopping center is a litmus test that proves the advancement of the culture and economy of the Hispanic population in the North Atlanta area.

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As you can see the Plaza Fiesta Shopping Center contains much more than a lady’s department store. In fact it carries everything from high fashion, ready to eat buffet restaurants, to commodity items such as CD’s and gadgets, and even groceries from the local Farmers Market. In alignment with Barth’s department stores Plaza Fiesta carries everything from ready-made clothing and shoes to fresh made take-out orders at the local fast food scene. [3] It is also surrounded by Marta stops, where upon driving through I saw two of them. Clearly there is a lot of traffic that goes through the Buford Highway area and in terms of its location and size Plaza Fiesta is equipped to attract numerous patrons looking fora multitude of goods and services.

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While technically considered to be inside the city limit of Atlanta this shopping center is definitely part of Atlanta’s suburban sprawl. However the city of Chamblee that contains a population of 11,178 people, 64.8% alone being Hispanic, being just two streets away provides a clear economic incentive for other Hispanic businesses to establish themselves in this culturally rich area. [4] The only difference I have found with these suburban shopping centers and other malls like Perimeter Mall on Ashford Dunwoody Road is that they are typically not interconnected except for the inner mall of Plaza Fiesta (which I could not photograph due to “legal reasons”- Chamblee Police) so most of the stores have to be accessed outside via covered walkway.

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Still in terms of matching up with Barth’ evolution of the shopping center with the  magasin de nouveautés, the Plaza Fiesta shopping center seems to line up perfectly. [5] Where there are lots of advertisements, sales for customers to take advantage of, open areas for customers to browse products, and in addition even a local amusement park that at night becomes a clear community center and hotspot for entertainment at night. In ending this Hispanic shopping center again matches up with Barth’s description of an evolved shopping center as it is an epicenter and mark of the advancement for the Hispanic culture and economy in the North Atlanta area.

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[1] Barth, Gunther.  City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America.  Oxford University Press: New York.  1980. p. 110

[2] Barth, Gunther. p. 110-111

[3] Barth, Gunther. p. 113

[4] Advame, Inc., “City-Data.com.” Last modified 2011. Accessed November 18, 2011. www.city-data.com/city/Chamblee-Georgia.html.

[5] Barth, Gunther. p. 113

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The Avenue


The Avenue on Webb Gin

Gunther Barth presents us with the idea that heavy migration to the city contributed to the rise of the department store. However, part of this success is largely due to the influence of women. According to Barth, “the social dynamics of the modern city in the United States generated the momentum that brought the full-fledged department store into existence.” (121) In essence the department store allowed for a largely feminine public zone. The department stores flourished on concentrated female, urban markets, however, with the societal shift towards suburbanization changed this. The department store within a suburban area, it seems, is now the strip mall or shopping mall. This area however, is still largely dominated by one gender. In an attempt to prove the importance placed on domesticity , particular attention will be paid to Snellville’s “The Avenue”. In this particular area one can see the continued influence of women in the market place.

The Avenue is a smaller, open air shopping mall with a largely suburban mindset. In these photos we can see that the emphasis on family and home life  is clearly there. In the first photo we notice that there are two children’s stores and a home decor one as well. In this sense we can say that the largely feminine origins of department stores has shifted to a more family oriented shopping experience.

There is also a unique environment on how men play a role in this domestic sphere. The store, Men’s Warehouse, is a store with the professional man in mind. In this sense it is clear that it hearkens to the traditional role of men to contribute to home life as providers and largely out of the everyday life of the family. This can also be seen in the photo with Jos A. Bank in the background.

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Due to the rise of oil prices at a national level, and the lack of public transportation in Atlanta, bicycles are becoming a more popular and efficient way of getting around the city. Since the early 80s, the city of Atlanta has failed to recognize and accommodate the vital needs of the cyclist community; and the combination of city and state law made it practically illegal to ride a bicycle on the street. Up until recently, the state government started to become more aware of the important role that bicycles play in the every day lives of urban people. In May, 2011, Governor Deal passed the HB 101 law, which legally obligates motorist to give cyclist 3 feet of room when passing. Unfortunately other effort to make the streets safer for cyclist has been very minimal. Instead of building updated bike lanes, like most cities in Europe are doing, the government masks the problem by painting bike sign on streets. Even though these signs raise public awareness on sharing the road, they do not protect the cyclist from getting hit by a distracted driver.

 

This picture was taken on Wylie Street, which is frequently used by bicyclist. The signs were painting on the concrete less than two weeks ago.

The only road to have a bike lane that connects the East side with Downtown is Edgewood Avenue.

If more streets became bike friendly, a vast majority of bicycle related accidents could be avoided.

The Beltline is a massive public transportation project that intends on creating a 13 mile long track around the perimeter of the city. This track will consist of a light weight train and paths for cyclist and pedestrians.

This mural is located on the bridge that goes above Ralph McGill Boulevard.

Bikes also play a major role for students. Parking is very expensive around campus and bicycles are not only very economic, but they also help the environment and are a good way to exercise.

This picture was taking at the courtyard on the Georgia State campus, and it shows how even on a cold morning, a lot of students choose to ride their bicycle to school.

The key to accommodating cyclist relies on public awareness, city policy, improving safety measures like bike lanes, better lighting, and advocating cyclist street rights.

Bibliography

http://www.atlantabike.org/node/1944

http://beltline.org/

 

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I took these photos around the corner of Boulevard Drive and Ponce De Leon Ave. My research paper is going to be on how this area, and more specifically how Boulevard and Monroe Drive, came to be as it is, physically divided among social class by Ponce De Leon Avenue into Midtown and the Old Fourth Ward. On the side of Ponce where the road is named Boulevard is the old Fourth Ward section, where there is a prevalence of low-income housing, fast food restaurants, bail bonds shops and other altogether abandoned buildings (including City Hall East).

Just across Ponce the road changes its name to Monroe Drive, and this side is the Midtown side. On this side there is a plethora of middle-high income housing, new high-rise condos, more expensive sit-down restaurants, organic grocery stores and centers for entertainment. It’s prevalent just through looking the amount of gentrification going on around and on the edge of the Old Fourth Ward Area, but Ponce still serves as a physical stopping point for it.

Boulevard NE changed its name in 1966 in an attempt to separate the “white” side of town from the “black” side, and the class differences can still be seen today. While North of Ponce Midtown has progressively gentrified since the 1980’s, the South side of Ponce in Old Fourth Ward District has only recently begun to catch up in the areas towards Edgewood and Auburn Avenue.

In the area that used to be known as “Buttermilk Bottoms” and the one now known as Bedford Pines, project 8 housing is still prevalent.

The Sears Roebuck building that closed down in the late 1980’s  and the and the infamous “Murder Kroger” are good examples of big business and rehabilitation having a hard time staying afloat in this area.

On the Midtown side, businesses like Trader Joes and the Midtown Arts Cinema cater to higher income food and entertainment. You would be hard pressed to find much of any organic food stores or entertainment centers across the street of Ponce.

[1] Teaford, Jon C. The Metropolitan Revolution: the Rise of Post-urban America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

[2] Richard Leon Thorton, Blight in an Urban Corridor: Ponce De Leon Avenue, Atlanta (PhD diss., Georgia State University, 1976)

[3] “Atlanta’s Buttermilk Bottoms,” last modified February 13, 2010, http://nmaahc.si.edu/memory/view/138.

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