Driving through, around and from A to B in any big city can be challenging. Atlanta is no different, offering the driver its own unique challenges. Spending a lot of time driving and observing in the ATL, these random thoughts about being out on the open road immediately came to mind.
Where are you? I’m on Peachtree! The city alone has 71 streets that contain the word Peachtree, countless others in suburbia. Avenues, boulevards, drives, lanes, streets, you name it, you will probably be on a Peachtree something at some point. Peachtree Street, the main street of Atlanta, confuses people all by itself. Giving the answer of “I’m on Peachtree!” will definitely mask where you are at.
Where is the skyline? Atlanta is known, especially on the north side, for lots of hills and greenery. While driving in parts of Georgia’s state capital you’ll think you are in the middle of a forest or the woods versus a big city. You are very close to the Midtown skyline, but you just don’t know it. Then wallah it is right in front of you!
Once it does come into view, the skyline might look foreign even if you have visited before. If you’re in town say once a year, you will notice buildings that were not there before or new ones going up. The skyline from just a decade ago is nothing like what it is today. Atlantic Station, a modern neighborhood with lots of shopping and entertainment options and various tall buildings, popped up out of nowhere in the 2000’s.
You will hear “the Perimeter” phrase frequently. When stopping to ask for directions there is a good chance the answer will include something in relation to “the Perimeter”. “The Perimeter” refers to I-285 an interstate which circles the city. You’ll hear place x is just inside the perimeter, it’s 20 miles northeast of the perimeter, etc.
Are there really speed limits? People do seem to drive faster on average around the ATL. At the top end of “the Perimeter”, where most of the heavy traffic is, the speed limit is posted at 55 m.p.h. Really? It seems like you’ll get run off the road if you aren’t doing at least 70-75.
How high in the air can I get while driving?! When driving into Spaghetti Junction where the east end of the “The Perimeter” and I-85 meet you will find five decks/levels of ramps, the highest being 90 feet tall. I guess that is one spot to get nervous at during rush hour and gridlock. On the bright side you might as well get the camera out to capture the views up-top. 🙂
What direction am I going in? Once off the interstate, with all the hills and trees you’d be hard pressed to find a long, straight stretch of road. One minute the road your on is going north, then east, then you have no idea. Better have that GPS or compass handy.
Sixteen Lanes of Madness. Your driving on I-75 or I-85 on the far outskirts of town and the interstate is four lanes, then it becomes six, then eight and that is still manageable. Then all of a sudden it becomes a sixteen lane free for all around Midtown and Downtown, known as the Downtown Connector. I wonder if that stretch of real estate is part of local drivers education driving? That would be the ultimate test.
What state am I in? Between all the northern transplants and everyone else passing through, if you just woke up and got on the road, you could have no idea what state you are in. You’ll see a lot less Georgia license plates then you might think while driving.
Is Waffle House the only dining option? You might think that if your on the interstate in suburbia. There seems to be one at every exit. Up until not to long ago there was one on each side of I-85 in Suwanee. One can only experience so much loaded hash browns! 🙂
Road tripping in the ATL, like any big city, can be an adventure. Checkout my previous post, Atlanta: Driving Through the Heart, on what a city interstate drive is like.
What unique characteristics or random thoughts come to mind in the city you live in or drive around frequently? Any additional Atlanta tidbits?