Less than half the people who live in Atlanta were born here. Chances are they know nothing about such treasured cultural icons as Oxford Books, the Great Southeast Music Hall and the Silver Screen. How can you ever get all those new folks to understand the traditional essence of Atlanta and, at the same time, how can we longtime Atlantans make room for the way the city’s changing?

There are some things here that make you say, “Now, that’s Atlanta." The bustle of Grant Park. The serenity of Oakland Cemetery. The Varsity before kickoff at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

But there are other things that show how Atlanta is becoming something greater than what it was before: Midtown’s street life and sleek new high-rises. The promise of the Beltline. The incredible celebration of Pride Week. The kaleidoscopic energy brought to us by immigrants from distant lands.

What Atlanta lacks in history (it was, after all, burned to the ground only 152 years ago), it makes up for in dynamism and diversity. Amid our busy thicket of cars and highways, the real Atlanta is out there, constantly redefining itself as a mix of old and new.

— Scott Freeman

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