The suburbs have a bad reputation, especially among young people. Youth craves vitality, the cultural amenities that only an urban center can provide. Suburbs signify a sort of stasis, a place to settle down, commute to work and raise children.
But there’s a problem. Most young people cannot afford to live in a major city. Of course many still do, but they struggle for years before they begin to earn enough money to live comfortably. And in today’s real estate market, as more and more people gravitate towards the city, prices continue to climb, apartments grow scarce, and the cost of living soars.
One solution may be to reinvigorate the suburbs. If a city’s outpost provides affordable living situations, and can offer its residents access to some—not all—but some of the cultural amenities they yearn for, it might just be enough to entice people to live there.
Marietta, GA, is a suburb of Atlanta. It is roughly 15 miles outside of the city, just far enough to avoid the high costs of metro Atlanta’s real estate. But it is still close enough to attract many people. It also has some of the important urban commodities. If people want to visit the city, it’s only a short drive or trip by bus or train.
The Strand Theatre is a historic establishment that is working hard to cater to a new generation of entertainment seekers. It is located on Marietta Square in Cobb County. It opened in 1935 and was a successful movie house until 1976. When it first opened, the Strand was the most modern theaters outside of Atlanta. It had heating, air conditioning and an acoustical sound system; it sat up to 1,000 people and had a fireproof projection room—each of which were qualified the Strand as a theater ahead of its time. The first movie, Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts, was attended by all of Marietta.
After some tumultuous times, and a complete renovation in 1964, the Strand maintained its status as an entertainment destination. But in 2002, as movie houses fell on hard times, the Strand went up for rent.
But friends of the Strand took up the cause. They turned it into a non-profit organization and once again restored the old building. It re-opened in 2008, drawing on its appeal as a throwback to a classic time, when going to the movies meant a fancy night on the town.
The Strand is but one of Marietta’s attractions. The town is a pleasant place to live, within a comfortable distance to Atlanta, and offers it residents an affordable and healthy environment.