Last week, we published an article that many of you were kind enough to share about the signs on North Highland Ave. promising tips for new residents. The very next day, the Huffington Post put out a list, which the AJC lovingly reposted, of “10 Things You Should NEVER Do in Atlanta.”
We at My Darling Atlanta aren’t in the business of telling people what they can’t do. Still, with so many new residents moving into town, and in a rare fit of positivity, we thought it a perfect opportunity to share some pointers of our own. These are just a few of the things we wish we’d been told about when we first moved here years ago. We trust you to do with them what you will. Welcome to the city.
1. You are now an ATLien. Embrace the fact that you are.
2. Get to know your neighbors. Facebook groups and NextDoor apps are great and all, but they’re no substitute for good old-fashioned neighborliness. That starts with introducing yourself when you move in—or even just saying “hi.” A little friendliness goes a long way. You don’t have to bake peach cobbler for the whole block (but it doesn’t hurt).
3. Default to basic driving sensibilities, starting now. Use your turn signal, let people in, don’t go 100mph. Help us help you and help the city.
4. MARTA. MARTA to the airport. MARTA to day drinks in Decatur. MARTA to reenact Ferris Bueller’s Day Off whilst cavorting in the streets of Midtown. Our transit system gets a lot of flack, but the truth is that it will only get stronger if more people start using it. It’s like a muscle that way. Try it, and you’ll quickly notice that it’s primarily commuters just minding their own business (especially during the week). If you’re still feeling skittish, find a riding companion and take the first car on the train. That way, the conductor’s right there should any issue arise, and police can be there by the next stop.
5. If you must drive, know that our interstate’s “rush hour” lasts most of the day. Here’s a (not so) quick & dirty guide to help our other roads make a bit more sense. I-75/85 is called the “Connector” because these two otherwise unrelated interstates connect through downtown Atlanta. Then 75 splits off to the northwest, 85 splits of to the northeast (even though it’s a left-lane exit), and then 400 shoots straight north off 85 toward Alpharetta. There was once a plan to run 400 straight into the city toward the Carter Center. Be very thankful that the Roadbusters didn’t let that happen.
This is also part of why Freedom Parkway splits off and wraps around the Carter Center. One side continues on to dead end at Ponce toward Midtown (next to the Clermont Lounge). The other side crosses over North Highland Ave. between the Poncey-Highlands and Inman Park, then dead ends at Moreland Ave. just north of Little Five Points.
The right lane of 75/85 is perpetually turning into an exit only lane. You will feel like the ocean is trying to spit you out. Stick to the middle lanes to avoid this headache until you get your sea legs.
Ponce de Leon will take you from Midtown all the way out east to Decatur and beyond. Dekalb Ave. will do that too, but it’ll change names a bazillion times first. It runs along the train tracks and is often the quicker option, but it also has a middle lane that changes direction based on the time of day, so be on your toes.
Roads here change names a bazillion times. The rest of them are called Peachtree. West Peachtree is just a block or three to the west (since Peachtree curves while West Peachtree stays relatively straight). Peachtree Street turns into Peachtree Road once it meets West Peachtree heading north toward Buckhead. I wish someone had just told me that when I moved here.
The numbered streets in Midtown count down southward to 3rd Street, then the next one is Ponce. 10th Street runs along the bottom of Piedmont Park before turning into the Beltline at Monroe Drive (which is called Boulevard south of Ponce).
Oh, and the NE, SE, etc. at the end of the street names just refers to which quadrant of the city it’s in.
6. Hold the door open for everyone. And generally be the charming, polite, considerate person we all know you are deep down. That said, people converse with strangers at the bars and coffee shops here. It doesn’t necessarily mean the men are hitting on you, and it doesn’t mean the women want you.
7. You’re not in traffic; you are traffic. Some people like to ride their bikes; some people like to walk. Please be a safe and patient motorist with them. This is a big city with a lot of different people, and the fewer people in cars, the better. Oh, and stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. That’s a big one—a state law, in fact.
And keep your car clean of anything someone could see as an excuse to break into it. It’s not worth a broken window just to find out there was nothing under that blanket in the backseat after all.
8. Go team. While we understand your right as a dyed-in-the-wool American to root for whatever hometown team you please, we’d suggest that you consider pulling for your new home city’s teams too—or at least not rooting against them. After all, we all remember how things turned out for Elaine in her Orioles cap at the Yankee game.
9. We know—there’s no water. But we do have lakes galore and the Chattahoochee, and Tybee Island’s just a few hours away. So let’s all just be thankful this isn’t drought-ridden California, yea?
10. Go to a patio for happy hour, a brewery tour, a show. Patio culture is alive and well in our fair city, and we have some great local breweries worth checking out and supporting. There are also tons of great Atlanta bands. Go see them. Check Creative Loafing or Stomp and Stammer‘s “Get Out!” page for listings.
That’s all for now, but we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. So what did we miss?