Actual Factual Gwinnett: Suwanee City Hall and the Super Friends

This is "Actual Factual Gwinnett," a regular column in which I, Tyler Estep, answer reader questions about Gwinnett happenings and history. Read previous editions by clicking the hyperlinks at the bottom of this column, where you'll also find information for submitting your own questions. Enjoy!

OK, so this question wasn't actually submitted by a reader. But it's a question I've heard a lot, in one form or another, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it. Plus, I thought it'd be funny.

The question:

Am I in Bizarro World, or does Suwanee City Hall look a whole dang lot like the Hall of Justice from "Super Friends"?

Can't guarantee that you're not in Bizarro World -- after all, maybe we all are -- but I know you ain't trippin'. Suwanee City Hall looks a lot like the Hall of Justice from "Super Friends" -- and there's good explanation. A sort of roundabout explanation, but a good one nonetheless. 

First things first, for the young'uns: "Super Friends" is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the '70s and '80s, in which Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the rest of the gang do cool superhero things. The Hall of Justice is where they hang out and devise plans and somehow get threats from bad guys beamed directly onto a giant video screen.

It looks like this: 

Suwanee City Hall, which opened in 2009, looks like this: 

Pretty strong resemblance, right? 

Right, but...why...how...WHAT? OK, so Suwanee city manager Marty Allen tells me that the building's distinctive architecture was obviously NOT modeled after the Hall of Justice. But, while planning their new city hall, officials did want something unique, so they ultimately selected a design that paid homage to classical art deco train stations (Suwanee, like many Gwinnett cities, has a history closely tied to the railroad). 

This is relevant to our larger discussion -- because, as the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in 2009, a Hanna-Barbera "background supervisor" named Al Gmuer was inspired by that city's Union Terminal train station when he worked on creating the Hall of Justice. 

Union Terminal looks like this: 

So basically: Suwanee City Hall looks so much like the Hall of Justice because the Hall of Justice looks so much like an old-timey train station. And for what it's worth, Suwanee officials are fully aware of the resemblance -- they've decided to embrace it, too.

"Our City Hall really does look like the Hall of Justice" is No. 4 on a suwanee.com list of "100 reasons to love Suwanee," and Allen said the city has previously considered making the folks at D.C. Comics aware of the coincidence (?) in case they ever need a shooting location. A few years back, city staff and their families took group photos in front of the building -- in which they dressed up as their favorite superheroes. 

The future cast of a live-action "Super Friends" movie, perhaps? 

Oh, and in case you wanted to take a trip a more formal trip down memory lane: 

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I, Tyler Estep, am a staff writer with the AJC and a Gwinnett County native. To submit “Actual Factual Gwinnett” questions, contact me at tyler.estep@coxinc.com, @ByTylerEstep on Twitter or via the form below.


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