Who's Decatur's Most Famous Resident?

Its sort of a slow morning here in the Decatur Metro newsroom, so I’ve decided to throw out a question that popped into my head a couple days ago.

Most of us are aware of musicians Michael Stipe and Emily Saliers, along with humorist Roy Blunt Jr.’s Decatur-tie, while others know that poet and good friend to Edgar Allen Poe, Thomas Holley Chivers, is buried in Decatur Cemetery.  A few others might also be aware that Julia Roberts spent some time here as a child.

But all of those folks have either passed on or moved on to other places.  So who is Decatur’s most famous current resident?

I’ll start things off by throwing Ryan Gainey’s name out there.

More National Recognition for The Brick Store

Forbes Traveler ranks the Brick Store as one of the top 10 Beer Bars in the country.

Here’s the blurb…

“Deep in the heart of football and Budweiser country, the pleasantly subdued Brick Store—no neon, no blaring TVs—is an upscale oasis offering 17 craft beers on tap, including Atlanta’s unfiltered SweetWater IPA; and about 75 bottles, such as Denmark’s Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, a double stout redolent of espresso coffee and dark chocolate. Fill up on pasta with homemade pesto before heading upstairs to the Belgian Room annex featuring more than 100 bottled beauties.”

h/t: InDecatur

Atlanta is Bank Robbery Capital (Another Reason to Use Online Banking)

If you thought that Atlanta was only the crime capital for sexy co-eds (ie. the Barbie bandits) you’d be wrong.  Apparently these eye candy hoodlums are just one symptom of a much larger problem.

With an eye-popping 350 bank robberies in one year, Atlanta now out-ranks Philly and L.A. as the number one bank robbery capital in the country.  That’s 100 heists more than last year!   The FBI attributes this 40% growth in robberies to increased crime nationwide, coupled with an explosion of growth in our metro area.  (This last point is backed up by a census report last year, which showed that Atlanta had added more people, 669,699, than any other U.S. metro area from 2000-2006. That’s 15.8% growth) (CNNmoney)

So what might be attributed to this nationwide up tick in crime? Well, the mismanagement team that has been misallocating and blindly stretching our resources (troops, law enforcement) since 9/11: the Bush Administration.

From 11Alive:

“The FBI used to investigate every bank robbery case in the Atlanta area. After 9-11, the FBI re-organized and focused more on terrorism. Now they only investigate the most egregious bank robbery cases in which the robbers produce weapons. “

So if you don’t want the FBI on your ass, rob a bank without a weapon.  They don’t have time for the rest.

Oh, and lose the sunglasses, hat and gloves.

“Emmett says bank employees need to look out for people entering the bank who look out of the ordinary. “Key items to look for are gloves, hats, or sunglasses on a customer,”

Rail Promotes Walkable Communities Around Atlanta

I swear, I’m not being paid or reimbursed in any way by a “streetcar mafia” for all of my recent posts concerning rail transportation.

In a study by the Brooking Institution, that was recently reported in the AJC [h/t: InDecatur], Atlanta ranked midway among the 30 largest cities in terms of “walkability”. But don’t thank downtown for that ranking, thank Decatur…along with Atlantic Station, Buckhead and Midtown.

Here’s the cutesy Decatur blurb… “Here, parents sip lattes while kids dance in the misty fountain at the center of the town square. Traffic jams do happen — in strollers. And shoppers sauntering down the latern-lined sidewalks aren’t just on a first-name basis with each other. Jake means ice cream. Eddie means music. And Twain means billiards and beer”

In addition to the rankings (which always get press, along with seemingly endless mentions on this blog), the study concludes that rail (not buses) is a key component of promoting walkable neighborhoods.

Take it away AJC…

“The survey underscored the link between walkable areas and rail transit, finding that 65 percent of the pedestrian meccas were situated along the tracks. It concluded that metro areas not experiencing this type of development might want to consider investments in rail.

And Leinberger noted that Atlanta could do more with special zoning districts around MARTA stops to encourage development. “You have a tremendous resource in Atlanta with MARTA,” he said. “But you haven’t taken enough advantage of development within walking distance of those stations.”

Atlanta Ranks 22nd Among Nation's "Most Dangerous Cities"

Detroit’s been getting a lot of press this morning for surpassing St. Louis as the country’s most dangerous city in the 14th edition of City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America, but I wanted to see how Atlanta stacked up against other cities (with populations of 75,000+) across the country. Unfortunately, there’s no data for the whole metropolitan region’s population of 5 million due to a lack of burglary data, so the only ranking available is for the city’s 500,000 person population.

How were the rankings determined? According to the AP…”The report looked at 378 cities with at least 75,000 people based on per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. Each crime category was considered separately and weighted based on its seriousness, CQ Press said.” The cities were then ranked based on a composite “score”.

As the title of this post proclaims, the city of Atlanta didn’t fair that well, ranking 22nd “Most Dangerous” out of 378 eligible cities. However, that was a slight improvement from last year, when the city ranked 17th. Other major cities with known crime problems like Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Miami, ranked with in a couple places of Atlanta. Our neighbor to the west, Birmingham, AL fared even worse the Georgia’s capital, ranking 6th nationally. Click here for the full list of “Most Dangerous Cities” in PDF.

Conversely, Roswell, GA ranked as the 30th SAFEST city in the country. Mission Viejo, CA, Clarkstown, NY, and Brick Township, NJ ranked 1, 2, and 3 nationwide. Click here to view a PDF of the safest cities.

It should be noted that these rankings have been highly criticized. Not surprisingly by the cities that rank “Most Dangerous”, but also by the FBI. A statement on the FBI’s website reads “These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region,” the FBI said. “Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents.”

So, take this data with a grain of salt. At best it may give a very general idea of which cities have the most severe cases of the problems listed above, but beyond that its mostly a headache for city officials that have to combat negative PR for months to come.

Decatur Sports Second-Largest % of Lesbian Couples in Nation

According to city-data.com’s new Top 101 Cities Lists (which has SO much data on cities that you could spend weeks going through it) Decatur has the second-largest percentage (1.9%) of lesbian couples in the country, behind only Northhampton, MA (2.7%). The city also ranks 16th in percentage of gay male couples (1.3%).

The site says it counts “self-reported male-male/female-female unmarried partner households” as “gay” or “lesbian”.

If you want to OD on more data about Decatur (like average home price graphs, most common industries for females, crime, snowfall, past health violations) click here or check out this insanely long list of Top 101 Cities Lists

I’ll see what other tidbits I can undercover in the coming days. Feel free to add you own findings about various demographic data below!

Hattip: Hit & Run

UPDATE: With tongue firmly planted in check, InDecatur wants to be number #1 and kick some Northhampton Smith College butt!

My a cappella group used to travel to Smith to sing in concerts and competitions back in college. From what I remember of those evenings (which is very little), Decatur already outperforms Northhampton in terms of Food and Drink options. But we don’t have the historic buildings and theaters that Northhampton claims.

Decatur Mentioned Among CNN's "Best Places to Retire"


Although Midtown gets special mention in CNN Money’s Top 35 Urban Places to Retire, the very last sentence of the page reads “For a more low-key lifestyle with easy rail access to downtown Atlanta, try Decatur, a small town with a thriving town square just east of Atlanta.”

Take that Peachtree City!  Perhaps we won’t need those golf cart lanes and Delta pilots after all!