The city has many names and descriptions … Hub of the South, New York, south, The City Too Busy to Hate, Hub of the South, The World’s Next Greatest City, and the list goes on, with all phrases and words appropriately describing the bustling and bright city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Many Black Atlantans refer to their home as LA or Lovely Atlanta. Lovely it is … modern concrete and reflecting glass skyscrapers dot the city’s skyline, while mile after mile of lush foliage softly frames the architectural marvels of the city.
Approximately fifty-four percent of Atlanta’s population is Black. The city recently elected its first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, to his second four-year term. Blacks also hold a large number of seats on the City Council, and in the Georgia State Legislature, both as senators and as district representatives. Additionally, the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city is a Black man, Reginald Eaves. Political clout gives most Black Atlantans a greater sense of pride and accomplishment in the molding of their city.
Atlanta is known also as a great center for higher learning among Blacks. The Atlanta University Center is the largest consortium of Black colleges in the nation. Atlanta University, Clark College, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, the Interdenominational Theological Center, and Spelman College are the six colleges which comprise the Center. A large number of Atlanta’s current Black population consists of persons who came to the city to attend school and loved the city so much that they never left. Atlanta offers every facet of life imaginable on an exciting scale, and this article is designed to acquaint you with its many places and spaces.
Paschal’s Restaurant on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive has become an Atlanta tradition and is the city’s Best known black owned restaurant. For Krispy Fried chicken that sends you home raving and fresh cooked vegetables, all at a reasonable price, this is the place . Once the meeting place of leaders of the civil rights movement, the restaurant still draws a sizable number of tourists and native Atlantans. Open: 7:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m., Sunday-Saturday. AE, CB, DC, MC, V
Leila’s offers little in the way of extravagant decor or fancy menus. What this tiny and cozy restaurant does offer is true southern hospitality and some of the best “down home” cooking to be found in Atlanta. Leila’s is the kind of place where you forget the confines of proper etiquette and just get down to “greasin’.” Try her fried fish served with fluffy hush puppies. The vegetables are superb, seasoned just right for all appetites. The restaurant is located at 1017 Fair Street, S .W., near the Atlanta University Center schools. Open: 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday. No checks or credit cards
Mimi’s, located in the Omni International Complex, is a “must see” bar and restaurant for visitors. Atlanta’s beautiful people enjoy the distinctive decor here created by lush foliage and tree trunks. Try the Screwdrivers, made with fresh squeezed orange juice. Come in for cocktails, or a game of backgammon, or dine after making selections from a superb continental menu. Open: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m., Sunday-Saturday. AE, DC, MC, V
The Mansion is appropriately named. Located near downtown Atlanta in an eighty-nine year old Victorian mansion, the interior of this unique eatery speaks of the old South. There are several dining areas within The Mansion, including an upstairs grill and a patio. Beef, mutton, and veal are among selections on the moderately priced menu. Open: 11 :30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Monday-Friday , 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Sunday. AE, CB, DC, MC, V
For late, late dining, stop at Gregory’s on West Peachtree Street. Their not-so-standard breakfast is available during Omelet Hours, 11:30 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. Choose from a number of international dishes in this cafe-like setting. Open: 4:30 p.m.-3 :00 a.m., Sunday-Saturday. AE, MC, V
Farther away from the downtown area, but well worth the drive is Max’s, also located in the Omni International Complex with its chic western decor, is the little brother to Mimi’s. Happy hour at Max is the thing to do from 5 p.m. until 7 P.m. Monday through Friday. Standard Surf and Turf fare, with live music nightly. Open: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m., Monday – Saturday, Noon – 3:00 a.m., Sunday. AE, DC, MC, V
Tango’s, another late eatery on Peachtree Road. Tango’s offers continental cuisine which you select from a menu placed on the back of a record album. Especially inviting is their coffee menu, listing fifteen different and delicious ways to enjoy coffee in this lush, stainless steeland-glass setting. Open: 4:30 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Monday – Saturday, 6:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Sunday. AE, MC, V
Cisco’s, located in southwest Atlanta, has received national acclaim as one of the city’s liveliest discos. Here you can dance to the pulsing beat of “Brick” and other disco artists, and on many occasions be entertained by live music. Meet your friends at one of two bars located at Cisco’s, or take it easy in their upstairs lounge area. Flashing slides and backgammon keep you entertained if dancing isn’t enough. DRESS CODE. Open: 5:00p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Monday – Saturday AE, MC, V
With all the flavor of ancient Morocco, the Casbah offers intimacy and super sound. Located in the Buckhead area of the city, the disco showcases well-dressed Atlantans at their best. Lots of lounging space for talking and even more floor space for dancing. DRESS CODE. Open: 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Monday – Saturday AE, CB, DC, MC,V
At the Pharr Road Library in northeast Atlanta, one rarely has a chance to look at the many bound selections decorating this popular disco. Enter and receive a “library card,” which is good for free admission after a certain number of visits. You’ll be tempted to flip through one of the books (which can be checked out, by the way). But more than likely you won’t make it past the crowded dance floor. DRESS CODE. Open: 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Monday – Friday, 8:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Saturday AE, MC, V
Not far from the Library and also on Pharr Road, you’ll find the Fox Hunt, featuring a long padded bar with luxuriously padded bar stools and lots of greenery everywhere. There are two dance floors, and, for those who don’t boogie, there are pinball machines. Relax in the balcony-like lounge area which is reached via a winding staircase. Open: 5:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m., Monday – Thursday, 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m., Friday, 9:00 p.m. – 3 :00a.m., Saturday AE, MC, V
The city’s best jazz can be found at the Midtown Jazz Club on Virginia Avenue in northeast Atlanta. Notables such as Horace Silver and McCoy Tyner have recently performed here. A light vegetarian menu is offered, featuring soups, cheese and fruit trays, and crepes. The best in the local jazz sound, a group called Life Force, can often be found here. Open: 9:00 p.m. – 3: 30 a.m., Monday – Saturday. AE, MC, V
Wild Cherry‘s on Campbellton Road offers top-name performers in both the jazz and rock world. Lonnie Liston Smith recently paid a visit here, as well as Billy Paul and Billy Eckstine. Open: 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m., Monday – Saturday.
Contemporary jazz is the feature at E.J.‘s on Andrews Drive, northeast. The decor uses stone, cypress and brick in a stunning combination, which adds much to your listening pleasure . Dinner and midnight breakfast are available. Open: 6:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m., Sunday – Saturday. AE, CB, DC, MC, V
During weekends check out the Capri, formerly a movie theater, now a concert hall. Artists of such caliber as Gato Barbieri and Taj Mahal have been recently featured. Show times are usually at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. The Capri is at the intersection of Roswell and Peachtree Roads. Show tickets are sold at Tic-X-Press Offices around the city and at the door prior to show time. Tic-X-Press is similar to New York’s Ticketron.
If reggae and calypso are your style, head underground … Underground Atlanta, that is. Once the hub of activity of the city in the late nineteenth century, the area is now an exciting attraction with all kinds of restaurants, clubs, and gift shops. Club Caribbe gives you the rhythmic sounds of “de i-lands.” Its current musicians are native Jamaicans. Swing here nightly, except Sunday until 3:00 a.m.
Dante’s Down the Hatch is also an Underground nite-spot, featuring a variety of fondues and wines and contemporary jazz. Enjoy easy sounds here until 3:00 a.m. AE, CB, DC, MC, V
Highly recommended is the Hyatt Regency Hotel flagship of the Hyatt Regency chain. Designed by John Portman and located in the Peachtree Center business district, this internationally acclaimed hotel features four restaurants and an exciting cabaret. Rates begin at $32(S). Call 404/577-1234.
A block away is the stunning Peachtree Plaza Hotel. This mirrored glass cylinder is most distinctive on the Atlanta skyline and is the world’s tallest hotel. Dine seventy stories high at the Sun Dial restaurant which revolves to allow you to enjoy the view of Atlanta to the fullest. Have cocktails on the islands, located in the hotel’s half-acre lake in the middle of the lobby. Some special weekend rates are occasionally offered. Rates begin at $34(s). For information, call 404/659-1400.
The Atlanta Hilton, the southeast’s largest hotel, attracts as many Atlantans as out of town visitors. The hotel’s four restaurants, two bars and disco on its top floor have a great deal to do with its drawing power. Situated near Peachtree Street on Courtland, the Hilton has its own international shopping gallery right in the lobby. Some special weekend rates are sometimes available. Rates normally begin at $29(s). Call 404/659-2000.
Plush is the only word to describe the Omni International Hotel, part of the Omni International Complex. Located near the heart of the business district, the hotel retains a sense of dignity and aplomb in the midst of dizzying activity. Accommodations here are most desirable because within close proximity are shops which carry items from around the world, designer boutiques like Christy Brothers Furriers, Pucci, + Hermes, and Lanvin, six movie theaters and even an ice skating rink. All of these are available within the Omni International Complex. There or also book shops, fruit shops, beauty shops, and some of the city’s most delightful restaurants. Rates for the hotel’s tastefully decorated rooms begin at $36(S). Call 404/659-0000.
If business or pleasure takes you to the Atlanta University Center, then you should stay at Paschal’s Motor Hotel, owned by the same two brothers who began their operation with a small cafe which is now one of Atlanta’s most popular Black owned restaurants as previously mentioned. Free parking and a swimming pool are available, while there’s music nightly in the La Carrose! Lounge. Rates begin at $18(S). For reservations call 404/577-3150.
All the world loves a winner and Atlantans are no exception. That is why you find staunch sports enthusiasts in this town, all pushing for their professional sports teams. The Hawks, once NBA western division leaders, is the basketball team. Local newspapers give you their schedule. Game time is usually 8:00 p.m. at the Omni (an arena which is still another part of the vast Omni International Complex).
The fast-paced Flames, the ice hockey team, keep their loyal followers packed into the Omni. The NHL, the Flames play at 8:00 p.m. most successful new franchise. Check local dailies for game schedules.
The city’s heartiest sports fans are Falcon boosters. Most home games at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium are sell-outs during football season. Shuttle bus service from major hotels is always available during major sporting events at the Stadium.
During the baseball season, should you be in Atlanta, go out and lend your support to the Atlanta Braves, who also play at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. In recent years the Braves management has come up with all types of promotions for fans’ enjoyment — beer night, bat day, wet t-shirt contests, fireworks, and the like.
Most hotels have tennis courts and swimming pools. Tennis has been a popular sport here even before the great surge of interest in recent years. Courts are also available at Piedmont Park (which has night courts as well) and at the Washington Park Tennis Center.
At any given time of the year, Atlantans enjoy racing, golf classics and tennis tournaments. More information on such events can be obtained from the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta, GA 30303.
FOR KIDS (Three to Ninety-Three)
One of the country’s most popular amusement parks is Six Flags Over Georgia, where you will find what was once billed as the world’s longest roller coaster — the Great American Scream Machine. Lose your stomach on the Great Gasp, a 225-foot parachute jump. The Park is open on a part-time basis during the spring and fall, and all day until 10 p.m. during the summer. One admission fee assures as many shows and rides as you can handle.
The largest exposed piece of natural granite in the world is known as Stone Mountain, located east of the city and accessible via the expressway. A park has been developed around Stone Mountain, including a tram ride to its top. Children particularly like the steam boat ride around the park. Picnic and camping facilities are available.
A must for the entire family is the birth home and final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. The King Memorial Center and birth home are both on Auburn Avenue (a street once the heart of Black business in Atlanta) near the downtown area. Visitors are most welcomed at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King once pastored. Church services begin on Sundays at 10:45 a.m. but plan to arrive early since services are usually crowded.
Of course the flavor of Atlanta is much too rich to capture on a few printed pages. Eye-boggling shopping malls draw thousands. Stores like Lord & Taylor, NeimanMarcus, I. Miller, and Sak’s all have branches in Atlanta, as well as local favorites like Rich’s and Davison’s. Still not described are the beautiful homes of Black Atlantans located in the southwest section of the city. Still unmentioned are the hundreds of parks that dot the city. Still not detailed are the many, many free cultural activities that take place in this busy city.
In other words, this article is meant only as an appetizer. The main course or entree is your visit to Lovely Atlanta … and the dessert is the happiness and satisfaction you’ll feel when you’ve had your fill and are on your way back home. Come back home …. come to Atlanta.