"Downtown Atlanta is bustling with activity as people are walking more," stated Camille Russell Love, Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs. "They walk to lunch, to meetings and to join friends and family for arts and entertainment activities. It's routine to encounter visitors from around the globe on our downtown streets. And Atlanta looks better than ever as numerous improvements are underway.
To celebrate the completion of two projects, the restoration of Margaret Mitchell Square and the installation of the new ATL Playground in Woodruff Park, a number of VIPS including Kwanza Hall/Atlanta City Council, Craig Jones/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, George Dusenbury/Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and AJ Robinson/Central Atlanta Progress will join Mayor Kasim Reed on a short walking tour on Tuesday, July 17 at 10 am." Ms. Russell moderated the event.
The first stop on the tour was Margaret Mitchell Square to admire the restoration of the graceful, stainless steel sculptures and granite fountains. The plaza honoring the legacy of Atlanta's Pulitzer Prize winning author Margaret Mitchell is located in the Fairlie-Poplar district at the intersection of Peachtree, Forsyth and Carnegie Way. Originally installed in 1986, the square features sculptures by renowned artist Kit-Yin Snyder, inspired by Southern antebellum architecture.
The square is nestled among some of Atlanta's most historic buildings like the Rhodes-Haverty and Candler Buildings. It looks out on the contemporary architecture of the Atlanta Fulton Public Library and Peachtree Center MARTA station. The sleek Georgia Pacific skyscraper across Peachtree Street is on the site of the Loew's Grand, where the premiere of "Gone With The Wind" took place. An ideal location, the square reflects the essence of Ms. Mitchell, who had a keen respect for the past, but who was also fiercely independent and modern.
The restoration work at Margaret Mitchell Square was overseen by City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program. Working with Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID), adjacent property owners and neighbors, they handled all the details of the plaza's facelift. Vital to the project was the support of Norfolk Southern. "We had tremendous help from the community," says Eddie Granderson, Manager of the Pubic Art Program. "Norfolk Southern was an ideal partner because Atlanta was established due to the railroad line ending downtown."
In addition to the enhancement of downtown Atlanta, a playground was unveiled at Woodruff Park, where Mayor Reed, City Council Kwanza Hall, and other dignitaries spoke, citing that the playground is a true structure for children. The project is about "personalizing" what you can do for a park. The Ambassadors Force will maintain the playground on a day to day basis and Kwanza Hall agreed that some restrictions on size needed to be posted.
Norfolk Southern is a sponsor of the restoration of Margaret Mitchell Square, along with MARTA and others. The City of Atlanta, Atlanta Landscape Structures and others sponsored the playground. "Restoration of this beautiful landmark not only honors the memory of a great Atlanta author, but will enhance the downtown experience," a spokesperson from Norfolk Southern said.