lethalweapon3

Lemme Get Just One Rib, Uncle Paul!

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Atlanta, GA  (RestaurantNews.com This is it! Southern Kitchen and BBQ, an Atlanta-based Southern home-style restaurant brand, announced today the launch of its franchising program and the signing of professional NBA player Paul Millsap as its first area developer for Greater Atlanta.

((snip))

During his time in Atlanta playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Millsap became a frequent visitor to This Is It! restaurants and was drawn to the brand’s emphasis on family and its mix of homemade BBQ, seafood, and soul food. As the brand’s first area developer for Greater Atlanta, Paul plans to open at least three new locations in the area, with the first of these restaurants to open by mid-2020.

“While I was living in Atlanta, I fell in love with This Is It! restaurants for their delicious food and strong focus on family and Southern hospitality,” said Millsap. “As a longtime fan of the brand, I jumped at the opportunity to expand this concept throughout Georgia and am excited for This Is It! to become a large part of my future in the restaurant industry.”

 

~lw3

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    • By lethalweapon3
      http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0760221076130110512-4
      ~lw3
    • By lethalweapon3
      Way to rep The A! Belated congrats, Malena!
      http://talktown.blog.myajc.com/2017/09/22/atlanta-student-wins-2017-soap-box-derby-world-championship/
      ~lw3
    • By lethalweapon3
      It didn’t have a fable, like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, to capture the nation’s imagination. And it lacked the modern media scale, like Interstate 85 enjoys these days, to draw global attention. Yet Atlanta had itself a pretty big conflagration, one that wiped out a good chunk of the city 100 years ago this month. As city fires go, this blaze was pretty bad. And it could have been far worse.
       

      (via Atlanta magazine, February 2017)
      THE SPARK
      In the late morning of May 21, 1917, firefighters had already dispatched to put out fires in three separate parts of town. Shortly after noon, they reached a fourth blaze, a pile of mattresses aflame on the porch of a Grady Hospital storage facility, on Decatur Street not far from the Georgia Railroad east of downtown (across from the present-day King Memorial MARTA Station). Embers from one of the other fires, it is believed, were carried by strong winds across the tracks to this site. Unfortunately, the firemen’s horse-drawn truck malfunctioned and their resources were already spread thin.
      The ill-equipped fire crew had water to pump but lacked hoses, all distributed to help with the other active fires. Calling for help proved fruitless as well, as telephone and public fire alarm systems broke down from so many attempts by citizens to call the fire department and alert one another.
       

      THE SPREAD
      The windstorms that day blew the flickering flames north, toward densely packed wooden-shingled homes. Many of the modest wood-framed shanties and lean-to structures, in what would become known as the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, belonged to African-American and low-income citizens, and were no match for the flames as they spread from house to business to house in mere minutes.
      Among the churches wiped out by the fire was Ebenezer Baptist Church, led by early civil rights leader Rev. A.D. Williams (Martin Luther King, Jr.’s grandfather; Williams' son and grandson would later lead the church after its rebuilding). The not-yet-born King, Jr.’s birth home sat less than a block away from the eastern reaches of the fire along Auburn Avenue. The only freestanding Black church in the area that survived the fire, Big Bethel A.M.E. (if you’ve seen the blue “JESUS SAVES” sign on a steeple from the interstate, that’s the one), became the place of gathering for Black citizens’ public meetings in the years following the fire.
      The blaze continued spreading north, paralleling Jackson Street (personal note: my first residence in Atlanta in the 1990s was a 1930s-era apartment on this street... the most famous downtown skyline pictures you’ve seen are taken from an overpass here) and Boulevard Drive into the “Fourth Ward” area. This neighborhood served as a retreat for many Black citizens still recovering from the 1906 race riots downtown, and as an area of close commute for White citizens. On this warm, sunny, dry, windy spring afternoon, virtually all would find their homes squarely in the rolling inferno’s path.
       


      THE PANIC
      With despair growing by the minute, residents began dumping furniture and valuables outside of their houses and into the lawns and streets, in fading hopes their worldly possessions could be salvaged and transported elsewhere. Alas, those items, plus the huge shade trees that lined Jackson and Boulevard, generally served to fuel the fire’s spread down and across streets.
      Whether one lived in the fire’s path or not, it was not lost on citizens the growing significance of what was transpiring. Certainly, not after fires in Chicago (1870s), Boston (1872), Spokane (1889) and, more recently, Jacksonville (1901), Baltimore (1904), San Francisco (1906) had thoroughly decimated large swaths of those cities.
      A couple hours in, Fire Chief William Cody (no relation to “Buffalo Bill,” who died earlier that year) reached first-year Mayor Asa Candler (the Coca-Cola Company founder), and issued the following urgent plea: “Call every city in a 350-mile radius—yes, as far away as Chattanooga and Savannah—and ask if they can help. Forget about the three earlier fires of the day; this fourth one is going to destroy Atlanta.”
      Among the residents who scrambled from downtown to evacuate his family and salvage belongings, before his home burned out, was a law clerk named William Hartsfield (the future longtime Mayor, after whom the current airport, formerly “Candler” Field, is partially named). He later wrote to friends that, upon his arrival, he observed flames approaching up Jackson Street “as fast as a man could walk,” adding, “Confusion reigned supreme.” Collecting what belongings he could, Hartsfield and his family would flee to nearby woods on Ponce de Leon Avenue, below the Southern Railway (today’s popular BeltLine trail).
      In 1957, Mayor Hartsfield reflected on the chaos from 40 years prior. “…when trouble comes singly,” he said, “there are people and agencies to help us. But when calamity is wholesale, friends and neighbors are too occupied with their own troubles. It’s every man for himself.”
      Patrolling Hartsfield’s street and many others were a couple thousand troops who marched north from Fort McPherson, helping the city establish order while convening bucket brigades to dampen homes during the fire. “Fort Mac” was already at heightened activity, with the United States entering into The Great War just over one month before. Within about four hours of the initial response to the fire, the City of Atlanta declared martial law. Fire crews summoned from as far as Macon, Augusta, and Knoxville were on their way to help an overwhelmed Atlanta deal with the blaze.
      The decimation of numerous shanty homes, shotgun dwellings, and warehouses were one thing, but now, Mayor Candler and Fire Chief Cody were facing the prospect of even more conspicuous destruction. Picturesque Victorian mansions and estates lined North Avenue and Ponce de Leon Avenue near Jackson and Boulevard. Containing the blazes along the north-south thoroughfares limited the risk of the fire moving laterally outward, especially west toward downtown’s business district. But the northward spread of this fire not only threatened the homes of wealthier, prominent citizens, but could soon encroach the doorstep of Piedmont Park, the city’s expanding young jewel of urban greenspace in Midtown.
       



      THE PLAN
      Chief Cody devised a plan to establish a huge firebreak gulch, along Ponce de Leon Avenue and points south. But that scheme meant dynamiting some of the stateliest residences in the city. Mayor Candler (pictured above) did not simply concur. Without hesitation, the mayor personally traveled to DuPont Powder company on the west side of town to order the retrieval of explosives.
      Onlookers stood by as experts rushed to set up TNT in the mansions’ foyers, then gasped as affluent citizens’ houses were blown skyward, one by one, the aftershocks strong enough to shatter nearby windows. Hose operators scrambled to douse the remains of the leveled homes.
      Cody’s grand plan worked, to an extent. But a more significant role in ebbing the fire came by way of Mother Nature. Nearing sundown, the steady northward winds shifted south, moving the blaze back from Ponce toward the already smoldering Fourth Ward. The fire crept just a block beyond Ponce, about three blocks south of Piedmont Park, before slowing down. With help from arriving out-of-town units, crews were finally able to contain the Great Fire, ten hours after it began. Over 22 million gallons of water were expended to stem the blaze.
       


       
      THE AFTERMATH
      Ultimately, the Great Fire of Atlanta destroyed almost 2,000 buildings on 73 city blocks, over an expanse of 300 acres. The geographic scale is considered larger than the damage to the city more famously committed by Sherman’s Union army back in 1864, the damage to property comparable. Beyond the commercial impacts, the fire left over 10,000 of its citizens homeless, roughly a tenth of the city population. Standing like soldier trees, only brick chimneys remained where houses once sat.
      Fortunately, while many “Great Fires” of America’s past were very deadly, Atlanta’s 1917 disaster claimed just one reported human fatality. A lady residing on North Boulevard, it was reported, died from “shock” while witnessing the fire engulfing her home. The New York Times reported that just 60 citizens were treated at area hospitals with fire-related injuries.
      Evacuees camped out at Piedmont and other city parks, among those who could not find shelter with friends in other neighborhoods. Scattered family members turned to newspaper bulletins to search for lost loved ones.
      Volunteers throughout the Atlanta region descended upon downtown to assist in relief efforts, including a teenaged Margaret Mitchell, whose prior childhood home in Jackson Hill was destroyed by the Great Fire. Mitchell’s 1917 experiences likely shaped passages about refugees fleeing the Yankees in her classic novel, “Gone with the Wind.”
       


      THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY
      While the brutal fire did not intentionally discriminate among citizens, local leaders took pains to continue doing so during the aftermath. At the massive downtown Armory, according to Atlanta magazine, Black ministers were asked by the Red Cross to voluntarily vouch for African-American citizens requesting aid, as an attempt to verify their need, while no justification procedure was in place for others.
      Black citizens were eventually shuffled into the Armory through a side deliveries entrance, after complaints prompted the closure of the front entrance to only White citizens. A Blacks-only Red Cross station and dormitory for cots was convened at the Odd Fellows fraternity hall near Big Bethel on Auburn. Atlanta police, ostensibly citing a desire to curb looting, restricted access by “junk dealers and Negroes” to the scorched neighborhoods without a written permit.
      Demand for a municipal farmer’s market for produce and goods led to the establishment of a site in 1918 along Edgewood Avenue, at the time wildly successful due to its central location for shoppers from around the city. The Municipal Market expanded into a fireproof structure in 1924, but segregation rules permitted Black citizens to shop only along the curbside, not inside the market. The present-day name of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, now fully indoors for everyone, reflects upon this era. (If you’ve seen the buddy-cop action film Ride Along, the scene where wannabe-cop Kevin Hart gets comically beat up by a deranged drunkard is inside the Curb Market).
      African-American residents were disproportionately harmed by the fire, not only due to the blaze itself, but from the vast denial of insurance coverage to help them rebuild. Alonzo Herndon’s Atlanta Mutual (later Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Black-owned) would grow to help local citizens fill in the void. Herndon and other black business leaders would help establish Auburn Avenue, as noted in Fortune magazine, as “the richest Negro street in the world,” and put “Sweet Auburn” on the map in the 1950s.
      Following years of experience with urban blazes, back in 1909 the National Board of Fire Underwriters had declared Atlanta as a “high conflagration hazard.” This, due to the high density of homes with wood frames and roofing shingles. It took a subsequent report in 1914 before the city took policy action. A 1916 city code was passed to mandate fire-resistant roofing materials (asbestos, or asphalt tiles) and replace all wooden shingles. The local lumber industry pressed the city leaders, and the January 1917 enactment of the code was deferred to July of that year.
      The underwriters also advised the city to upgrade its increasingly outdated fire safety equipment, particularly hydrants with fittings incompatible with modern fire hoses. With the underwriters’ warnings coming to fruition, a hastily-convened City Council voted to begin enforcing the housing ordinance by the end of May 1917, ten days after the Great Fire. It was also the beginning of the end for horse-drawn fire trucks, the once-begrudging city becoming fully motorized within a year of the Great Fire.
      While residences were slow to rebuild, commercial enterprises began to take shape in the decades following the fire. Notably, Atlanta’s Scripto company (mechanical pencils, pens, lighters) constructed its first factory along Jackson Street. Relocating from downtown, Georgia Baptist Hospital (today’s Atlanta Medical Center) built a new campus between Boulevard and Jackson, just north of the Scripto plant.
      Where the woods and an amusement park along Ponce de Leon once lay, atop natural springs that inspired the street’s name, Sears Roebuck constructed the largest standing brick structure in the Southeast U.S. for its retail store and warehouse, just across the railway from the new Ford Motor Company “Model T” assembly plant.
      The mansions (and their resident owners) never returned. The large fire-scoured properties became more valuable as retail and apartment dwellings, many federally-subsidized to house much of the city’s ballooning population, particularly after the Great War, the Depression, and World War II. Great effort by city leaders went into enforcing residential and educational segregation in the slowly rebuilding area. Large plots of land remained undeveloped for generations, a factor which served the city’s federally-backed urban redevelopment plans well in the postwar periods.
       




      THE LATER YEARS
      The Downtown Connector, merging Interstates 75 and 85, sliced through the heart of Sweet Auburn, hastening the once-prospering Black community’s economic decline from the 1960s onward. Later, efforts to construct an I-485 freeway from downtown to DeKalb County could not be thwarted by more well-heeled citizens before GDOT acquired and cleared more residential properties, destabilizing the Fourth Ward community further. The lower-scaled Freedom Parkway and the Carter Presidential Library stands in I-485’s place.
      The Fourth Ward area suffered from not only White flight, as citizens with the means to move flocked to booming suburbs near and beyond the I-285 perimeter roadway, but Black flight, as its segregated middle-class moved into new single-family homes designed for them on the west side of town, beginning in the 1950s.
      The neighborhood population dwindled by two-thirds in the next three decades. Those who remained lived largely amid poverty and high drug-fueled crime through the 2000s. The stories of rough Fourth Ward upbringings would eventually inspire the lyrical talents of prominent Atlanta trap-era rappers, most notably Young Jeezy, Pill, 21 Savage, Reese, and Dae Dae.
      Urban redevelopment clearance helped the city establish new civic projects on the east side of downtown, displacing residents in what had become the segregated Buttermilk Bottom slum of northeast Fourth Ward (Mayor Hartsfield pictured in the 1959 LIFE magazine pic above, before a soon-to-be-displaced apartment). Projects in the city-renamed “Bedford-Pine” neighborhood included the Atlanta Civic Center, headquarters for Georgia Power Company, and the colorful but quickly-failed open-air Rio Mall.
      In the decades that followed MLK Jr.’s 1968 assassination, a national historic district was established in the area around the rebuilt Ebenezer Baptist and his birth home. Coretta Scott King and family would expand the Center for Nonviolent Social Change within the historic site that, today, features Dr. and Mrs. King’s tomb on Auburn Avenue.
      The area struggled with environmental neglect as well, particularly flooding of excess runoff from Atlanta’s long-outmoded combined sewers (stormwater, domestic sanitary sewage, and industrial wastewater altogether, overflowing into the area during heavy rains). After many years of lawsuits, a federal court-mandated decree resulted in the city constructing a detention pond that now serves as the centerpiece to Historic Fourth Ward Park. A popular site for intown festivals, the park sits across from the old Sears Roebuck building, and is just one showpiece in what is today a vastly gentrifying area.
      Sears vacated its premises back in the 1980s, but the hulking building is the site of new offices, residences, and Ponce City Market, an upscale food hall with retail shops that opened in 2014. The old Southern Railway adjacent to the Sears building is now the BeltLine eastside trail. Meanwhile, the Ford assembly plant across the trail from Sears became a military storage depot during WWII, and residential lofts in the 1980s. The BeltLine connects bicyclists, pedestrians and joggers not only north from there to Piedmont Park, but south alongside the Fourth Ward to another wildly popular food hall, the recently renovated Krog Street Market.
      Redevelopment is slower in the areas where the fire first began to spread, but the Edgewood Avenue corridor has become a mecca for urban nightlife in the ATL, while Georgia State University has established its student residential areas squarely within both Edgewood (near the Curb Market) and the adjacent Sweet Auburn district.
       

      THE SIGNIFICANCE
      Risky but swift thinking and action from Atlanta’s leaders may have kept the Great Fire of 1917 from becoming a calamity of far more disastrous proportions. Without additional assistance from the military and fire units converging from across the Southeast, the city still rebuilding from the Civil War might have suffered an economic blow from which it would never recover. Further, the life trajectories of some of Atlanta’s most famous citizens might have been altered significantly.
      Improvements to American building safety codes, and enhancements to firefighting equipment and infrastructure, were incremental and often contested, but undoubtedly effective in the long run. Atlanta would later be the site of the nation’s deadliest-ever hotel fire, downtown’s so-called “fireproof” Winecoff Hotel, in 1946, ushering in even greater urgency for public policy action. But it would not be until the Oakland Hills brush fires of 1991 in California before the United States would experience non-explosive urban fire damage of a geographic magnitude like Atlanta’s 1917 fire.
      The area’s continuing evolution is a product of the city’s convoluted, haphazard, but familiar resurgence from major disasters, and a reflection of decades of shifts in American urban development policy.
       


       
      THE COMMEMORATION
      Voted the city’s “Best New Festival” by Atlanta magazine in 2015, “Fire in the 4th” will be convened by the Old 4th Ward Business Association for the third consecutive year on Saturday, May 20, from 3 pm to 11 pm. Free attendance for all ages, the “FIT4” festival features fire installations (they had me at “Fire Skeeball”), fire theatre, historic presentations, food trucks, local craft brews and spirits, and live art and music performances along Auburn and Edgewood Avenues.

      Also on Saturday beginning at 1:30 pm, there will be a two-hour “bike tour” benefit for the “O4W” business association, visiting sites throughout the area impacted by the Great Fire and subsequent revitalization.
       
       
      Links:
      “Fire in the 4th” festival by the Old 4th Ward Business Association… http://www.fireinthe4th.com
      Recent Atlanta magazine articles on the Great Fire… http://www.atlantamagazine.com/great-reads/second-burning-atlanta/
      http://www.atlantamagazine.com/history/this-week-in-atlanta-history-the-great-fire-o/
      http://www.creativeloafing.com/news/article/13047196/unhappy-anniversary-great-atlanta-fire-of-1917
      Sweet Auburn Curb Market History… http://thecurbmarket.com/about/yesterday/
      Historic Fourth Ward Park… http://www.atlantawatershed.org/projects/historic-old-fourth-ward-detention-pond/
      http://www.h4wpc.com/faq.htm
      Frank B. Davenport photography and other photos from the 1917 fire and aftermath (via Atlanta History Center)…
      http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/cdm/landingpage/collection/davenport
      http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/cdm/ref/collection/athpc/id/2135
       
      ~lw3