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2 minutes in Mountain View


Krog Street promo mural via Slideluck Atlanta


I'm excited that Johnathon Kelso's Mountain View photo series will be featured in Slideshow Potluck, an international slideshow salon presented as part of Atlanta Celebrates Photography. John fell in love with Mountain View after reading my essay "Walking Tours of Lost Cities," and started his own airport-area expeditions. We collaborated to produce the multimedia slideshow that debuts October 28 at Ambient+ Studio.

Here's our exhibition proposal:

"Mountain View, GA" is a photo series that attempts to document the rapidly disappearing remains of what was once a thriving community near the Atlanta airport. From 1956 until it was dissolved by an act of the state legislature in 1978, the small town of Mountain View--so named for its clear view of Stone Mountain--was home to 3000 people. Though it was negatively impacted by jet noise from "the world's busiest airport," residents remember it as a quiet "Mayberry," where neighbors knew each other, kids played ball in the streets until dusk, and no one felt the need to lock their doors.
Plagued by allegations of corruption in the city government, Mountain View was ultimately doomed by the opening of the airport's new "Midfield" terminal in 1980. By then, The City of Atlanta's Department of Aviation completed is massive acquisition of Mountain View properties and relocation of the residents. The houses  were moved, sold, and demolished and an entire community was displaced.
Today, the city is scarcely remembered or discussed. The area is now part of unincorporated Clayton County, occupied by warehouses and airport-related industrial facilities. But the remains of Mountain View's neighborhoods, churches and storefronts are still visible beyond the blocked-off streets and kudzu-covered wreckage. Johnathon Kelso revisited Mountain View to chronicle what's left and what has grown in the ruins, from airplane-spotters and small congregations, to a roaming population of squatters and feral cats. These glimpses begin to trace the story of a lost and unmourned landscape.



Suburban Hackers


Some hopeful observations from the 17 mile drive south to Jonesboro on a bright, dry Saturday afternoon in early October:

Soccer game in progress on the Old Towne Morrow Commons,
Southlake Pkwy, Morrow

Nestled between the concrete expanse of I-75 and the Sears parking lot, Olde Towne Morrow is a failed "entertainment district" that looks like a mirage or a movie set. I love that the public green spaces here are thriving despite the shuttered buildings in this ill-conceived faux village. Future developers should consider the site's potential as a futball facility.

Frightmore "Haunted Attraction" in an old Linens N' Things, Mt. Zion Blvd, Morrow

A seasonal pop-up shop on steroids, this is possibly the most hilarious example of big box reuse I've ever seen. Here you'll find "the kingdom of the Dead, a void where monstrosities lurk, a place of tortured souls," which the billboards advertise as "next to the Old Navy." 

138 Fresh Market in an old Waffle House, Hwy 138, Stockbridge

Waffle Houses are everywhere. You'll find one on almost every interstate exit in Georgia, sometimes with double locations straddling both sides of the exit. As much as I love the "Golden Squares," such excess has always seemed like a local oddity, with bad implications for our health. Recently, I've seen vacant Waffle Houses reused as a lingerie/video store and a "We Buy Gold" shop, but this transformation to a farmer's market is particularly sweet. How beautiful that you can now buy muscadines and tomatoes in this former house of cheap, buttered hashbrowns.

Impromptu car show in a QuikTrip parking lot, Hudson Bridge Road, Stockbridge

This looked like a casual "cruise-in" of late model customs with 24" rims.

Haunted houses, soccer fields, farmers markets, and car shows? Plus the original suburban hackers-- I spotted a group of skaters "repurposing" the curbs, culverts, walls and rails of a vacant strip mall. Looks like the adaptive, creative, and playful reuse of suburban surplus is well underway on the southside.  

Whenever I see spontaneous gatherings and activity popping up on the margins of commercial blight, I can't help but think developers have the formula backwards... that parks and public spaces should be the economic generators instead of malls and highways.