Buckhead resident Rodney Mims Cook Jr. stands by his statement that Atlanta does not have enough monuments.
In an effort to document the city’s standout structures, the fifth-generation Atlantan penned his first book, “Images of America: Atlanta’s Parks and Monuments” that debuted June 10.
Cook, president of the National Monuments Foundation, which spearheaded the design and construction of the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlantic Station, said the book is a comprehensive overview of Atlanta parks and monuments, something that has not been compiled before.
“I’ve built a number of monuments for our city because I was concerned we didn’t have enough for a town as big and as grand as ours ought to be,” Cook said.
Though Atlanta may not be known for its iconic monuments like New York or San Francisco, Cook said the 200 images in the book, published by Arcadia Publishing, catalogue an impressive array of public structures throughout the city. Many of the images of now-demolished monuments featured in the book came from the archives of the foundation, he said.
“I think people are going to be dazzled with some of images of city over last 100 years they didn’t know about,” Cook said. “People are shocked that these images are Atlanta, Georgia, in the mid-19th century. They can’t believe we had this stuff, much less the stuff we still do have.”
Cook, a descendant of former Atlanta Mayor Livingston Mims, said one chapter details plans to restore and rebuild Mims Park in Vine City, which was first built in the 19th century. He said he hopes Atlanta moves toward a greater focus on building these types of classical monuments and parks that put the city on the map for high-profile attractions.
“When you go to Paris, you don’t go to see airports or baseball stadiums or the [Georgia] World Congress Center. You go to see parks and cathedrals and monuments,” he said.
With more and more people moving to cities, Cook said this focus would also make Atlanta a better, more livable place.
“Cities are fragile and if you don’t do them right, you can mess something good up very quickly,” he said. “You have to set standards that cities are going to be livable. In my mind, you have to make them beautiful but you also have to make them workable, … something that uplifts a community as well as something beautiful.”
“Images of America: Atlanta’s Park and Monuments” is available for sale at www.arcadiapublishing .com