Boston and Providence remain amazing places to be. THey're getting expensive, they're building condos at an amazing rate, but still they hold on to certain elements from which Atlanta could really learn.
1) They Preserve. In several places, older building were preserved. They may have been renovated on the inside, but the the key design elements were kept. In some cases, the facades were kept, but larger buildings were put above them.
What this does is link a city's history to it's past. So much of old Atlanta has been lost and we risk losing what's left everyday.
2) Wealthy institutions work with more resource bare institutions to benefit everyone. Simmons College renovated and did huge environmental clean up on Daly Fields in Brighton
. They were origally part of the Brighton High School campus but had been fallow for 25 years. Brighton High School had no place to play. Now they do. Simmons did the environmental clean up and created a partnership with the school and the community. The College gets Athletic fields as does the High School and community. They also now have regular interaction between the college students and the High School students who go there.
3) They have a sense of place. Boston believes in Boston. They're genuinely proud of being Bostonians. They're proud of their community, their people, their shops, they're sports teams, and everything.
4) They're greening as fast as possible. Solar and wind power are going up everywhere. Bikes are plentiful. Acommodating them is important.
5) Universities are incorporated into the community. Atlanta Claims to have 300 colleges. Between Boston and Providence, you have about 5000. They're integrated into the city. While Morehouse, Clark, Emory, and Oglethorpe have all gated themselves off, Harvard, MIT, Simmons, Northeastern, RISD, Brown, and so many others have open campuses through which you can walk. They have lots of free galleries into which you can walk. They want people involved. They don't have security officers who stop you even trying to get on to campus. They want transit to serve their campuses.
6) Excellence matters more than flashy or brand. When you go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, you get amazing art. Not just art 'you've heard of' (sic). The MFA displays the most interesting art they have. The High Museum of art has great art, but you've not heard of lots of it, so it's packed away.
As Atlanta moves toward becoming a more muscular city, it needs to demand that people commit to the city itself. It would be really cool to see people want to be 'Atlanta Strong'.