By Collin Kelley
November marks the 20th anniversary of Atlanta INtown. All month long, we’ll be posting selected editorial from our special anniversary issue, which is out now in print and digital, which you can read at this link.
I’ve had the pleasure of editing this paper for more than half of its existence, coming aboard at a time of transition. My instruction from interim publisher Joe Hiett was to revitalize the papers. Yes, that’s papers plural. When I arrived at INtown in the summer of 2002, Nonami Enterprises had assumed ownership and there were four: INtown, Atlanta Buckhead, Atlanta North and The Studio, which at the time was a standalone publication. No pressure, then.
I had been reading INtown since it first hit the streets in 1994 under the name Atlanta 30306, the Morningside zip code of founding publisher Chris Schroder. I had watched over the years as 30306 added more publications: Atlanta 30305, Atlanta Downtown and Atlanta Real Estate. There was even a short-lived Sandy Springs edition.
Those papers would eventually morph or combine into the line-up I was facing on my first day on the job. I decided the best way to get a handle on what made INtown special was to go back to the beginning. I went to the archive and pulled out the first edition of 30306, and went from there.
As I started work on the anniversary issue earlier this year, I went back to that first issue once again. My, how things have changed in such a – relatively – short period of time.
Flipping through that faded 30306, it’s a snapshot of a community on the cusp of big change. In 1994, people were just starting to figure out how the Internet worked, most people didn’t have cell phones, and the source for neighborhood news were publications like this one.
Trendy coffee houses were a new thing then, and the cover of the first 30306 led with a big feature on a dozen that were open in the community. Out of the 12, only four remain: San Francisco Coffee, Aurora, Café Diem and Caribou.
Everyone was excited that a new grocery store called Harris Teeter was opening in Sage Hill shopping center and that a new branch of the post office was opening on North Highland. The hip place to buy clothes was Bill Hallman’s shop.
Cool Joe and The Funky Soul Symbols were playing at The Dark Horse Tavern and REM had a big hit record called Monster. Art galleries were all the rage, too, with features on Aliya Gallery, koolhipfunkystuff, Modern Primitive Gallery and Form & Function Gallery, owned by Flournoy Holmes (creator of iconic album art for the Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmoth and Carole King) and Michelle Klein.
There were also a handful of advertisers willing to take a chance on a new publication. Since INtown remains advertising driven, the relationships we established with local businesses then remain vital to this day. Without the support of our loyal, local businesses, INtown wouldn’t exist.
Atlanta’s place on the international stage began with the 1996 Summer Olympics and took off like a rocket: the transformation of Downtown, the revitalization of historic neighborhoods, the creation of the BeltLine, the boom and bust and boom again of the real estate market, the citywide embrace of sustainability, the growth of the film industry, the tech industry and a world-class art, music and dining scene.
The spirit of 30306 and the communities we cover is still embodied in Atlanta INtown. Chris Schroder’s vision endures and continues to transform as we embrace the web and social media. How people absorb the news has changed drastically in 20 years, but our mission to publish hyperlocal news that helps foster a sense of community continues.
Here’s to the next 20 years!