SOCI 3010 (Public Space)
April 3, 2011
Each day we may see new faces, or maybe someone we already know. And there are times when we sit down on a park bench or a restaurant outside table (on a sunny day) and observe passers by. At some point and time one may wonder exactly what is public space. Could it be an open space for the public to shop, eat, socialize, or lounge? Or is the definition of space more complex? Well according our reader, public space includes all areas that are open to the public in a society. I took it upon myself, and with the help of Dr. Holland, to observe certain places, three to be exact, to check out the behavior of different people in different settings. I also observed how people reacted to those who acted outside of the social norm. In the following paragraphs, I will describe my observations, and decide on a theoretical analysis, as well as to why I feel the theoretical analysis fits my place of observation. Underground Atlanta
My first place of observation was at The Underground. Before I go in depth with my observations, I would like to inform you on the history of Underground Atlanta. In 1836, a rail line was created to connect the farming and cotton states to markets from Atlanta to Chattanooga (http://www.underground-atlanta.com/about-us/history-of-underground.html). After the Civil War in 1866, the only thing that was left was ashes and burned down homes. During the 1920’s, concrete viaducts were created to regulate the flow of traffic. Eventually, the lower level was utilized by merchants. Underground Atlanta was also a part of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led many non-violent marches across the bridge fighting for equal opportunity for blacks. He also fought for the desegregation of schools, restaurants, as well as the right to sit wherever we wanted to on buses. When Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, the funeral procession from his church to his burial site crossed over the bridge through The Underground. It was not until thirty-three years later that Underground Atlanta was restored. And in 1980, the MARTA train station was created. Now, the Underground currently serves as a hangout spot for families, as a place for shopping, dining, and dancing at great night clubs. During my observation, I sat at a table next to the Hagën Daz ice cream shop, which sits in front of the Marta train station. I sat in the same spot twice for a little over three hours. It seems as if every other person were acquainted with the other, meaning they know each other. Those who were not familiar faces along the strip were given faces of curiosity. It was quite obvious to tell the difference between those who were regulars and those visiting. The visitors did not really know their way around, and showed expressions frustration and uncertainty on their faces. The visitors were almost always the targets of the street vendors’ attempts to make sales. The street vendors sold fruits, snacks, body oils, soaps, books, music, and incense. There was one out-of-towner that purchased one item from each vendor she passed.
There was very little diversity at The Underground. I spotted a few Caucasian and Asian people. The majority was African-American people; the only Asians were those who either owned a nail salon, beauty supply store, or a restaurant that sells Chinese food. As I was writing down my observations, I heard this beautiful masculine voice singing. As I looked up, it was a short middle-aged man with his shades on, and dressed casually. He was singing old gospel songs as people dropped dollars and coins in his hat. He would stop to drink from his bottle of water and sing another song. It amazed me to hear him sing for a whole three hours. I was astonished because he knew so many gospel songs and he never sang the same song twice.
In the state of Georgia, this was the first time in my...
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