A few days ago there was a fire here in the Atlanta area that destroyed what was described as a “historic” restaurant. What made it historic is that it was the second oldest Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant in the US, having been built more than 30 years ago. That reminded me of an Eddie Izzard bit.

In the bit, he says he grew up in Europe, “Where the history comes from.” He talks about having read a story about a building in Miami being renovated in the style of fifty years ago, and people being shocked. “Surely nobody was alive then!” The point, of course, being that in the United States, we tend not to have as many old structures around as they do in Europe. Always having to drive around castles, he notes.

A huge part of this is due to the fact that, Pueblo dwellers aside, the people in America before Europeans didn't tend to build permanent structures, and there hasn't been as long here to build such structures as in Europe and elsewhere. Another part of it is Izzard getting a dig in at people always tearing down and rebuilding things to make them the newest, flashiest, whatever.

Reflecting on all of this, it occurred to me that where I live has an additional factor that most of the rest of the country doesn't have. In other parts of the country, you can find farmhouses that date back to the 1600s, Spanish missions from the same time and older, a fort in St Augustine from the end of the 17th Century, and so on. In Atlanta, though, you're hard pressed to find many buildings more than 150 years old or so, due to a little incident in a minor kerfuffle we had here in 1864.

I do, of course, refer to the burning of Atlanta by the Union's Army of the Tennessee in 1864, during the American Civil War. I'm not about to get into any of the details of any of that, it's way beyond the scope of this post, but it's an event that's had a long lasting impact on the culture of the area, and even the seal of the city references the event, being a phoenix rising from the flames.