When I mentioned to friends that I was going to Underground Atlanta, the response that I got from every one of my friends was the same: don’t go alone. Don’t go alone, don’t go after dark, and call if you need anything.
This was my first Underground experience, so I didn’t understand why they were all so concerned until I got to the space.
Underground Atlanta is not very well lit. There are nooks and crannies in the walls large enough to hide a person, the cell service inside is abysmal at best, and the understaffed stores and kiosks show an absolute disregard for the small handful of people wandering the mall.
In my hour and a half there, I passed a total of 15 people inside the mall. Outside, however, was another story. Recently an Atlanta music venue called The Masquerade relocated to Underground, and its doors are located outside past the end of the shopping strip.
The day that I went, there was a concert at the venue for someone named Jacob Sartorious, who I later looked up and found was a young teen pop star. This explained the demographic of the people outside of the venue, and why it was so different from the inside demographic.
The people lined up at the venue were mainly white middle aged parents and large groups of mid-aged teenage girls. In direct contrast, most of the people inside of the mall were individuals or very small groups, at max three people, of people of color.
Underground Atlanta is an underground mall near GSU’s Atlanta campus. At it’s opening, it was a major tourist attraction and many visited when they came to the city. Today, due to a lack of funding and loss of public interest, the space is often deserted.
Underground Atlanta is not easily visible from street level. To enter, one must go down an escalator or flights of steps. Once downstairs, the mall stretches for about two blocks. The main shape of the mall is one long hallway with shops lining the walls and kiosks lining the sides of the walkway.
The hallway is wider than one within a typical building, and acts more as a roadway for pedestrians. The ground is made of cobblestones, and the side of the path have sidewalks that separate the main walking space from the stores.
In small offshoots, there are rectangular slabs of marble that act as benches. Next to each of these is a metal plaque on a stand. These metal plaques contain historical facts about the space, its architects, and Atlanta in general. These offshoots are evenly spaced throughout all of Underground Atlanta.
Underground Atlanta has a noise that persists constantly. Upon listening, I was not able to place what the sound was. Below is a clip of the sound.
I’ve lived in the Metro Atlanta area for nearly 9 years, but it wasn’t until the fall semester of 2016 that I actually moved downtown. I was excited to see all of the sights that the city has to offer, and one of those was Krog Street Market. The market has quickly become one of my favorite places to get gourmet foods, people watch, and spend time with friends! When I went to take notes for my built environment description, I brought some close friends along to enjoy the space with me.`
After my detailed site description notes on Krog Street Market were taken, I decided to sit back and really absorb everything that was occurring around me. My friends and I are naturally cynical people, and we tend to enjoy gentle mockery of those who appear to have everything together. As we continued our conversations, I began to recognize a pattern in the people surrounding us.
While the people in the area were of many different races, ages, heights, and weights, they all had a defining characteristic: nearly everyone appeared to be a part of the middle or upper-middle class. While this observation is entirely subjective, I believe that it is almost entirely true.
Individuals and groups walking past our table were wearing name brand or high end clothing which appeared to be relatively new. Young children were being pushed in high end, retail expensive strollers that also appeared relatively new. Most customers at the different restaurants and shops within the building paid with cards, something that is generally more difficult for a lower class person or family to obtain.
My belief that the space was populated by mostly middle or upper-middle class citizens was solidified when I ran into one of the alumni of my fraternity. This brother* is a white man in his mid-thirties, who is a college graduate in grad school, happily married, and has a steady job. When I asked him how he felt about Krog Street Market, he replied that he loves the environment, and that he and his husband come to the area every weekend.
Observation of the many restaurants and shops within the market showed that the price levels of each venue were at an above average level. For instance, a gourmet chocolate shop housed in Krog Street Market charges $9 for each of its chocolate bars. Other shops and restaurants charge similarly high amounts for their products. This further strengthened my theory that the market caters to those of higher monetary standing, as someone with less spending money would not be likely to spend such a high amount of money ‘every weekend.’
All in all, while Krog Street Market is a beautiful place to eat and enjoy the company of others, it is not a space meant for everyone. The clientele is expected to have a certain amount of disposable income, and those without this much spending money generally do not spend as much time there as their wealthier counterparts.
*Upon meeting this alumnus, I asked his permission to quote his answers to questions I asked him about the space. He agreed, and further agreed to allow me to post these quotes on my blog.
Krog Street Market is a self-described ‘epicurean center’ (“History of Krog”) which houses an amalgam of different types of restaurants. It is located at 99 Krog Street in Atlanta, and since its opening in November of 2014 has grown to the point where it is listed as one of America’s best new restaurants of 2015 (“Bon Appetit | America’s Best New Restaurants 2015”).
On January 29, 2017, I went to Krog Street Market around 5:00 PM, one of its busiest times of day. Once there, I took notes on everything in my surroundings, and have since narrowed my observations to the colors and materials contained within the main dining area, as the full establishment is comprised of numerous restaurants, each with their own separate visual style.
Upon reaching the building, one of the first sights is the entrance way, which can be seen from both inside and outside of the establishment. The entrance is created by transparent,
clear glass doors framed in rust red metal. Once through the doors, one enters a large, open seating area. One of the walls of this area is made of rectangular strips of at least four distinct colors of natural wood placed in a geometric pattern. On this wall is a finished tan wooden bar with tall metal chairs that had finished wooden seats and backs that appeared almost golden. The remaining walls are made in three sections: silver corrugated sheet metal from the ceiling down to the next section, flat grey brushed metal from there down to the next, and evenly lined brown wood from there to the concrete floor.
Spaced around the floor of the room are long tables with attached benches, both made of the same type of wood as the bar and the tall chairs. High above, grey metal pipes and bars cross around the ceiling,
with circular clear plastic light fixtures spaced about intermittently. Hanging from the pipes and bars were two types of fake snowflakes made of white plastic; one type appeared to be made of plastic tubes covered in a sparkly material, and the other type was flat and covered in the same sparkling material.
Trash cans are placed at intervals around the room in pairs. These two are identical in shape and composition, but there are marked differences. The one on the left of each pair has a black lid and has a label around the center that states “TRASH,” while the one on the right has a bright blue lid and has a label around the center that states “RECYCLING.”
Near the center of the room is a tall table with a wooden top which holds up a rectangular machine and stacks of translucent disposable plastic cups. Upon closer inspection, one can see that the machine is a water dispenser with spigots labeled “Water,” “Sparkling Water,” and “Cold Water.”
With all of these observations able to be ascertained from an analysis of only the main eating space, it is easy to see that a full observation of the entire establishment would yield far more extensive results.
Bibliography: Bon Appetit | America’s Best New Restaurants 2015. (2015). Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://www.krogstreetmarket.com/bon-appetit-americas-best-new-restaurants-2015/
HISTORY OF KROG. (2015). Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://www.krogstreetmarket.com/about-ksm/history-of-krog/
Krog Street Market (Atlanta, GA): Top Tips Before You Go – TripAdvisor. (2015). Retrieved February 10, 2017, from https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60898-d7383123-Reviews-Krog_Street_Market-Atlanta_Georgia.html#photos;geo=60898&detail=7383123
Park, M. Y. (2015, October 13). How Atlanta’s Krog Street Market Became an Immediate Success. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://www.bonappetit.com/people/out-of-the-kitchen/article/krog-street-market-atlanta