Fairlie-Poplar is enclosed intersection in downtown Atlanta, seemingly hidden behind tall buildings and overlooked in favor of busier streets. It took me a while to find the intersection. I walked in circles and passed Fairlie Street many times before realizing it wasn’t an alley. Walking further, I finally caught sight of Poplar Street. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place (and I’m still not entirely sure). It was midday and while other streets were filled with bundled up pedestrians, the Fairlie-Poplar intersection was barren.
Standing at the intersection the only thing I could see was an empty bar and a yellow dumpster. Both things seemed out of place, as I wasn’t sure why anyone would go to a bar in such a desolate area and there didn’t seem to be any construction going on nearby. My immediate thought was to take a few pictures and leave. However, I was supposed to spend at least one hour at the site. Retracing my steps, I started back at the Fairlie Street sign and attempted to reenter the environment with an open mind. The second time around I noticed the building to my left was the GSU School of Music. I would’ve missed it if it hadn’t been for the door opening and large instruments with people attached spilling out. What that meant to me was the space was actually used, even if only for passage from one place to another.
On seeing the Poplar Street sign for a second time, I noticed a Ferris Wheel in the distance. It was one of the first pictures I took, as something that represented fun (for lack of a better word) could at least be seen from the tiny hole I stood in. Walking down Poplar proved to be as equally eventful as my trip down Fairlie. Sure, both streets were of decent length, but I felt my focus was supposed to be the tiny hole and I was meant to find nothing short of magical there. I found yet another empty bar, oddly close to the first empty bar and some (what I thought were) official buildings.
I dutifully took notes of the lack of color and how, combined with the weather, it made the space appear depressing. I’m not sure I have the use of the space fully figured out, even now. Though I have come to the conclusion that people live in that “tiny hole”. There was a balcony one story up, on this pale stone building. The balcony was so small I wasn’t sure anyone could stand on it, but there appeared to be plants sitting up there. I thought, “Someone had to put them there.” I began to notice just how high the buildings around me went. The quiet of the intersection would be ideal for living. The bars were surely crowded at night, so it wouldn’t really be desolate then. It was a closed off, one way intersection which meant the people that did mill around at night were probably safer there than at bars that were on busier streets.
I found the magic of that tiny hole in those plants. The small speck of yellow I could barely see, combined with the large yellow dumpster, and the colored signs of the club. All things that were placed in the space by people, for people.