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City Cafe

The Best of City Cafe for 2014

Jan 2, 2015
Francine Reed
Georgia Department of Economic Development

2014 has proved to be another busy year for both City Cafe and the city of Atlanta. Our reporting has taken us to rooftops, through forests, and into the lives of seemingly ordinary folks with extraordinary stories. As this year ends and the new one begins, we present some of our favorite features of '14.

Singer Francine Reed on Her Career and Recognition

Trains parked in the roundhouse at the Railroad Model Club
Ryan Nabulsi / / for WABE

The Railroad Model Club of Atlanta has been around for more than seven decades, operating its vintage train set-up from the same second-floor room on Edgewood Avenue for nearly that entire time.

So, why doesn’t anyone know about it? Kate Sweeney went to find out.

The Railroad Model Club of Atlanta welcomes visitors the first Saturday morning of every month. Find out more here.  

Nina Subin

You may know Maureen Corrigan from the NPR program Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She’s the show’s book critic, known for her thoughtful, considered recommendations. Recently she told WABE’s Kate Sweeney about three of her all-time favorite books—all centered in the city where she grew up.

Before they got down to business, Kate began by asking Maureen Corrigan a little about her work on Fresh Air.

Two Short Web Bonuses

Maureen Corrigan’s Picks

For the writer and illustrator whose career spanned generations, the exhibit at the Breman features components for adult and child visitors alike.
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

In this story we learn some very little known facts about the classic picture book "Where the Wild Things Are." Pioneering children’s writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak published his classic tale featuring young Max’s voyage to the magical land where he becomes king and leads the wild rumpus among the dreadful creatures there in 1963, although he actually began work on it years before. It's thrilled generations of children since. 

Chris Mowry in north Georgia, with equipment that senses collared coyotes. He hopes the next step of the Atlanta coyote study might involve measures like this.
Kate Sweeney / WABE

They’re larger than foxes and travel in ones and twos. And if you live in one of Atlanta’s wooded neighborhoods, then it’s possible that you’ve spotted a coyote near your house, or heard its wild call… which sounds something like this.

Now a new survey by Berry College wants to know about your coyote encounters, Atlanta. 

Corrigan's book investigates "[t]he Great American novel we all think we've read, but really haven't." Maureen Corrigan appears at the Georgia Center for the Book Thursday, November 20 at 7:15 pm.
Little, Brown and Company

 In all likelihood, you were assigned the celebrated classic The Great Gatsby in a high school English class. The F. Scott Fitzgerald book is often referred to as the great American novel.  

So, how did this story—of a young Midwestern man who falls in with a group of jazz-age partiers, including the mysterious Jay Gatsby—become so revered, especially after experiencing dizzying critical and commercial failure when it was first published in 1925?

Cameron Wiley
Carla Wiley

The shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year provoked a firestorm of protests and debates across the country.

For 18-year-old high school student Cameron Wiley, it sparked reflection on events in his own life. It also moved the Marist High School senior, who is himself an African-American, to write a poem, even though, he says, he would never ordinarily identify himself as a poet. He visited our studios to read "I Am What I Am."

Atlanta History Center

The day after President Lincoln was reelected on Nov. 8, Union General William T. Sherman planned a measure to end the Civil War once and for all. Half his forces marched north, to defeat the Confederate army in Tennessee. The rest marched from Atlanta to Savannah, destroying anything that could possibly support Southern armies as it went.

The idea was to wage war on the Confederacy’s morale as well as its capability. Here, in full, is Sherman's Field Order Number 120.

Jim Stacy with Lois Reitzes.
Kate Sweeney / WABE

  Corn dogs, milkshakes, and, of course, books.

Many Atlantans know Jim Stacy for his vociferous passion for the first two of the above, but it turns out that the owner of the corn-dog restaurant and food truck Palookaville, is also a ravenous reader.

Here, the red-bearded, tattooed host of PBA-30’s Get Delicious! talks monsters, chocolate and vinegar-soaked Southern Gothicism with WABE’s Lois Reitzes, starting with the tale of a boy who goes on a very strange adventure—or actually, two such tales.

Warren Akin
Etowah Valley Historical Society

  With a number of decisive Union victories, the Civil War was quickly turning in the North's favor by the fall of 1864. As an eleventh-hour strategy, the Confederacy was considering forcing enslaved African-American men into its army. One person debating the idea was a Georgia attorney named Warren Akin. He wrote this letter to an unknown correspondent.

Who knew? Novelist, essayist and poet Luis Alberto Urrea is probably a nature writer at heart. At least, that’s what he tells us in this installment of Page-Turners, in which we also see his penchant for a bit of magical realism. In addition, he tells us a great story about the one Stephen King novel that both he, and his son, couldn’t put down—and why.

In this extended version, Luis Alberto Urrea tells us his harrowing real-life story involving Mexican curanderas, or wise healer women.

Pamela Druckerman talks with WABE about America's motherhood crisis, a surprising family connection to the First World War, and the art of wearing loafers without socks.
Benjamin Barda

Do the French know something Americans don’t, when it comes to parenting?

That’s the question behind Pamela Druckerman’s 2012 bestseller Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.

The book got its start when Druckerman, a New York transplant who’d moved to Paris with her husband, started raising her kids there. She couldn’t help but notice that French children—and by extension, their parents—seemed calmer, happier, and better-behaved.

Mary Claire Kelly

"Beautiful City" is WABE's series about places to get away from Atlanta without leaving the city.

Today, we’ll learn about a neighborhood reclaiming both its history, and its future, in one of its neighborhood parks. WABE’s Kate Sweeney takes us to the 120-acre Cascade Springs Nature Preserve in Southwest Atlanta.

Beautiful City is made possible by a grant from The Kendeda Fund, and through a partnership with Park Pride, celebrating 25 years of more and better parks for Atlanta.

Two dancers jitterbugging at the August Foxtrotters dance
Ryan Nabulsi /

It’s National Ballroom Dance week, a nice time to consider that old idea of romance taking flight on the dance floor. The spark ignited by jitterbugs and tangos is crystal-clear at one local ballroom dance club for the 55-and-over set.

WABE’s Kate Sweeney spent a recent Friday night at a dance put on by The Foxtrotters Club at East Cobb Senior Center, where she says she met so many couples who met their sweethearts while dancing, she lost count. She brought back this sound portrait.

A previous year's "My Atlanta" exhibit at Piedmont Park Community Center
Atlanta Celebrates Photography

For eleven years, the nonprofit group Atlanta Celebrates Photography has put on a festival that’s grown to be one of the largest in the United States.

For one exhibit, the group annually puts out the call both to amateurs and professionals to submit photographs representing their impressions of life in Atlanta. The “My Atlanta” exhibit has rarely been themed—but this year, they're doing something different.

This week, Pulitzer-Prize nominated author Luis Alberto Urrea is in town to discuss a novel that’s part fable, part gritty realism, and one-hundred percent rollicking adventure: his 2009 work Into the Beautiful North.

Urrea’s book is this month’s selection for The Big Read, a program sponsored by the Atlanta History Center and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Libraries. WABE’s Kate Sweeney sat down to talk with Urrea about North and how its border-crossing stories turn our expectations on their head.

General William T. Sherman
Wikimedia Commons

What should happen to a surrendered city during war-time? This is the question addressed in today’s installment of our “Voices of 1864” series…by none other than Union General William T. Sherman.

On September 2, 1864, the city of Atlanta surrendered to the Union. Mayor James Calhoun wrote to Sherman, asking his army to protect the civilians still living in Atlanta, as well as their personal property.

Although its release coincides with events surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown, it was personal experience that spurred the teens to begin developing Five-O months ago.

There’s no doubt new technology follows the trends, and a smart phone app released this week is no different: It allows users to rate their experiences with police officers, and it’s created by a group of teenagers from Stone Mountain.

Five-O was developed by Ima, Asha, Caleb, and Joshua Christian—and its release coincides with demonstrations, violence and police action in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting death of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. Those events have seized the nation’s attention and raised questions about racial profiling and police brutality.

Atlanta History Center

Today’s installment of our “Voices of 1864” series reveals a surprising moment of camaraderie between enemies.

As August wore on and Union batteries continued shelling Atlanta, there were frequent skirmishes, as soldiers on both sides dug into their trenches.

However, when out of sight of their officers, soldiers would talk with the enemy and trade items like newspapers, combs, and tobacco.

Here are excerpts from a letter by James Neumann, a 20-year-old Private in the Union Army.

Artist Caroline Caldwell, in front of her mural-in-progress on Edgewood and Hilliard Avenue in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward
Joshua Gwyn / Living Walls

 Today is the first day of the Living Walls 2014 Conference. The annual five-day event invites local and international artists to come paint the town, creating street art in neighborhoods all over the city. This year's event features 18 murals. But this year, the conference is also enlarging its focus.

WonderRoot plans on opening the doors of its new Center for Arts and Social Change (formerly Tech High Charter School) in 2015.

  The arts organization WonderRoot has announced a significant expansion. The nonprofit arts and service organization has occupied its current space, a 4,000-square-foot house on Memorial Drive, since 2008.

Next year, it plans to move across the street into the 52,000 square-foot building that was formerly Tech High Charter School. The group plans to call the new space the WonderRoots Center for Arts and Social Change.

What Do You Do With a Broken Suburb?

Aug 6, 2014

More and more Americans are leaving the suburbs behind in favor of urban spaces. As we’ve discussed in past stories, this national trend holds true here in Atlanta, too.

But what happens to those empty suburban spaces—the strip malls, office parks and sprawling parking lots

  —left behind by this mass urban migration? And can we improve upon those spaces  for the folks who still choose to live there?

Atlanta History Photograph Collection / Atlanta History Center

In this installment of our series “Voices of 1864,” we have excerpts from a letter written 150 years ago by a 28-year-old Atlanta woman caught in Atlanta during the Union shelling of the city.

Julia Davidson penned this letter to her husband in the Confederate Army on August 4th, 1864, 16 days into the shelling by General William T. Sherman’s forces. She was one of the few thousand citizens who had not already fled.

Twentieth Century Fox

(*and gives it two opposable thumbs up!)

One of the more popular summer flicks this year is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Of course, the plot’s pretty simple: A band of apes and a band of humans with a history of conflict must compete over the same resources, which pushes them the brink of war. (Aaaand, sequel!)

But, wait. There are lessons here. At least that's the idea behind the latest episode of the Emory University web-series “Emory Looks at Hollywood.”

Sue Poston directs foot traffic as part of the Fox's Powder Puff Patrol.
Dan Raby / WABE

Intermission can be fraught. You want to grab a leg-stretch, maybe a drink, and very often, a trip to the restroom.

But as we all know, this can pose a challenge for those of us—especially women—who don't wish to miss the opening curtain on Act II. This is very much the case at an historic venue like Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, which is known for its stained-glass windows and trademark starry-blue ceiling, but not for its ease of navigation.

Enter the Powder Puff Patrol, a keen group of volunteers and staff appointed to confront this rather delicate problem.

View of Union officers posing on the porch of the Windsor Smith house, the headquarters of Col. Henry A. Barnum (4th from left), 149th N.Y. Volunteer Infantry, U.S.A., on Whitehall Street in Atlanta, Georgia; the house had previously served as the headqua
Atlanta History Photograph Collection, Kenan Research Center / Atlanta History Center

  In this installment of “Voices of 1864,” we hear excerpts from a letter penned 150 years ago today by a Union soldier fighting under General William T. Sherman, in what would later come to be known as the Battle of Atlanta, a major turning point of the Civil War.

Alonzo Miller was a Private in the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and 25 years old. He wrote this letter to his family two days after the battle.

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta.

 Just how realistic is the prospect of an Atlanta with cooperating transit?

Maybe a little more realistic now, with the advent of a new website. seeks to make getting around on metro Atlanta’s multiple transit systems easier, by serving as a one-stop hub for planning trips that span MARTA, Cobb Community Transit, and Gwinnett County Transit systems.

Kate Sweeney / WABE

  A celebration of the University Avenue Public Art Project takes place Saturday afternoon at 352 University Avenue in southwest Atlanta. The event will showcase the unveiling of three twenty-foot high-relief sculptures celebrating the past, present and future of southwest Atlanta’s neighborhoods. 

The project has been in the works for over a year, and, as WABE’s Kate Sweeney reports, it’s about a whole lot more than simple beautification.

352 University Avenue.

George N. Barnard / Atlanta History Photograph Collection, Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s Atlanta campaign, which marked the war’s final turning point. To commemorate it, WABE today begins a new series.

In partnership with the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center, we will share first-person accounts of a wide variety of people who experienced the events of 1864 in Atlanta. "Voices of 1864" features selections from Atlanta diaries, letters, and other writings from 150 years ago, shared on the day they were written.

Atlanta's Newest Soccer Star

Jun 26, 2014
The Atlanta Silverbacks in July 2011. Former WABE host John Lemley is in the center of the front row.
Kate Sweeney / WABE

With the United States soccer team playing against Germany in the World Cup today, we thought it would be a good time to really think about what it takes to be a soccer player. 

But since we couldn’t visit with the US team, we did the next best thing. We called on the Atlanta Silverbacks.  This is actually an encore of a story we produced back in the summer of 2011. The day began at Silverbacks Stadium, where team director Rodrigo Rios told me what to expect.