Of permanence and change

Atlanta's Georgia Dome, 1992-2019
Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, 1992-2019

I just read that the Georgia Dome in Atlanta was imploded this morning, and I experienced a familiar but still indescribable feeling … something about a big, concrete and steel structure, normally considered a permanent thing, being erased. Not so permanent after all. And worse when the structure was built in my lifetime. It even didn’t exist, had yet to be imagined, when I lived in Atlanta.

“Watch the historic Georgia Dome implode” says the video. I’m sorry, but a structure completed as recently as 1992 hardly qualifies as “historic.” At least not in my mind. Only 25 years old, and already they’re tearing it down.

Concrete and steel are supposed to be relatively permanent, aren’t they? Like the skyscrapers in downtown Oklahoma City that were there as I grew up. The tallest at the time was the First National Bank Building — 33 floors, built in 1931. Not huge by modern standards, and eclipsed by other buildings in recent decades. But it’s still standing, as is the 1909 house where I grew up.

It’s disturbing on some level, seeing “permanent” structures come and go. Maybe it’s the reminder that nothing in this world is permanent. Things that have existed throughout my lifetime seem permanent, seem like anchors in an ever-changing world. And yet, as with the Georgia Dome, they could be gone tomorrow. Maybe it’s progress. Maybe I’m resistant to change. Maybe I’m just getting old and don’t like the reminders.

I don’t know; it’s hard to describe. I do know it’s one reason I love the mountains. In my lifetime, at least, they have not noticeably changed. They are the strongest, most permanent thing I know. If I leave for a year or two or ten, they’ll still be there when I come back. (With apologies to Star Trek, they are “ever changing, never changed.”) That’s reassuring, especially in a world where we raze “historic” 25-year-old concrete structures.

Permanent and impermanent

24 thoughts on “Of permanence and change

    1. Seventy-four makes me “old” going on “ancient.” I think that’s what bothers me … that I’m older than concrete-and-steel structures that are being torn down … ugh.

  1. How true is all of this. How alarming that nowadays nothing is supposed to last. I would say that my permanent and reassuring present in my life is God, but in my heart I think (and I hope) that also my family would be forever (or as long as life could be).

    1. I’m used to little things, appliances, clothes, etc. being considered disposable and not worth repairing anymore. But entire buildings? Just tear them down and build new ones? Why?

  2. My question is why? Was it falling apart? Too far gone to repair? Or did the current powers that be simply think it had no further use? I don’t know who made the decision, but I do know that governing bodies sometimes do nutty things for no reason.

    1. Apparently a newer stadium has been built nearby. In its place will be a new hotel, parking, and green space. Which still doesn’t explain why it needed replacing. No doubt the thinking involves what would be most profitable.

    2. Did some more reading. Wikipedia says the building’s cloth roof had been torn several times during storms and partially collapsed once. Ongoing repairs made it too expensive to maintain. Reinforces my concern about Denver International Airport, which opened in 1995. It also has a cloth fiberglass roof.

  3. I would think that years of studying science, astronomy and geology would’ve eliminated any worries on my part about the impermanence of anything built by humans or even we humans ourselves but, sadly, it has not. Maybe I’m just getting old too…

    1. Granted, nothing built by humans is permanent. It just feels weird to be outliving major human constuctions that are/were younger than I am. On the other hand, it’s somehow reassuring to have grown up in a solid house built way before I was born. It’s still standing, lived in by a family that appreciates it and its protected status in a designated historical district. I dunno. As I said, the whole thing brings out a lot of mixed feelings.

    1. Thinking of the pyramids, Stonehenge, Machu Pichu, the Roman coliseum, the Parthenon … we just don’t build ’em the way we used to, do we? Even so, we humans occupy only the last two seconds in the geologic history of the world. We are but gnats.

... and that's my two cents