From hosting its first Super Bowl in nearly 20 years to Tyler Perry Studios’ formal opening, it’s been quite a year for Atlanta.
Since January, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s coverage of the area has included debate over scooters, the United States’ largest food forest and a widely discussed sexual assault at a popular nightclub.
So, let’s take a look back at five of the AJC’s biggest, most important and most-read stories in Atlanta this year.
1. Atlanta hosts the Super Bowl
Celebrity parties, red carpet events, and a concert hosted at Centennial Olympic Park were just a few of the related events Atlanta residents could enjoy as the city played host to the Super Bowl 53. But it wasn't without its chaos: Throngs of people scoured the city for Airbnbs and the airports across the metro area were crowded as celebrities flew in on private planes to take part in some of the festivities. Read our Super Bowl coverage here.
2. Sexual assault at Opera Nightclub streamed to Facebook Live
A young woman came to Atlanta for a birthday celebration. Instead, she was sexually assaulted inside Opera Nightclub; the attack was also inadvertently streamed on Facebook Live. The video showed the woman on the dance floor while a man assaulted her. She could also be heard screaming for the man to stop and calling for help.
The woman later sued the nightclub, alleging the venue had inadequate security that night. Police arrested a 34-year-old man on aggravated battery charges in connection with the case.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE:Woman sues Midtown nightclub after alleged sexual assault
3. Scooters give residents, city officials a headache
Since they first arrived on Atlanta’s streets in June 2018, scooters have been the bane of some residents’ (and city officials’) existence. In January, the Atlanta City Council passed an ordinance regulating scooters. Following four scooter-related deaths this summer, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a moratorium barring any new scooter companies from coming to the city. The city also prohibited scooter riders from using the devices after 9 p.m. The city’s scooter woes didn’t end there. In October, the AJC reported the city had failed to collect at least $200,000 in scooter impound fees owed by scooter companies. The city is expected to collect those fees by the year’s end.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Atlanta, scooter companies bump heads over impounds
4. Atlanta becomes home of nation’s largest food forest
In May, Atlanta became home to the largest food forest in the U.S., living up to its moniker “The City in the Forest.” The food forest, which has been in the works since 2016, sits on 7 acres of property near the Lakewood Fairgrounds and Browns Mill Golf Course. Residents visiting the property can enjoy fruits, veggies and herbs growing there. The forest also features walking trails and a community garden.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Atlanta’s Food Forest services communities without a grocery store
5. Tyler Perry hosts star-studded studio opening
For a few hours on one October evening, Atlanta residents lived among stars such as Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles when media mogul Tyler Perry held a black-tie gala to celebrate the opening of his movie studio, Tyler Perry Studios, in southwest Atlanta. The $250 million studio is the only major film studio in the nation owned by an African American. The 330-acre filming complex includes a life-size replica of the White House and 12 sound stages, all named after legendary African-American filmmakers or actors. The massive set was also the site for Georgia's Democratic presidential debate in November.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Director, actor and now developer: Tyler Perry opens studios with gala
Atlanta mom draws sympathy after leaving child at Grady
When Diana Elliott left her child, who has special needs, at Grady Memorial Hospital, she drew sympathy from those who didn’t know here but understood the trials of parenting. Elliott was later arrested and told Atlanta police arrested she left the child at the hospital because she was “overwhelmed caring for her son” along with her three other children, who are all minors. Strangers showed up to Elliott’s court hearings, offering the mom encouragement and support.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mom charged with leaving son at Atlanta hospital draws sympathy
Bridget Shiel's case still resonates with Atlanta residents
A story that was published in 2018 but continues to draw readers is the Bridget Shiel case. Shiel, 19, was found dead at a southwest Atlanta park on Memorial Day weekend in 2016. She had multiple gunshot wounds to her back, buttocks and legs. In 2018, Atlanta police arrested Christopher Spencer, who was also tied to two killings in Clayton and DeKalb counties. Spencer was already serving a life sentence at Macon State Prison.
The case has been featured in high-profile crime shows, such as A&E’s “The First 48 Presents: Homicide Squad Atlanta.” Since the arrest, Shiel’s mother, Angela, told the AJC she wants the Spencer to get the death penalty. “When it first happened, I initially wanted the person to rot in jail,” she said. “When I found out he killed so many, I changed my mind. If there was ever someone so deserving of it, it’s him.”
PREVIOUS COVERAGE:Cops: Man who killed woman, left her naked in park is responsible for 5 deaths