Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
July 5, 2008
Rodney Mims Cook Jr had a revelation in the 1990s. He would build a huge, faux-Roman victory arch like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (and Las Vegas). But this arch wouldn’t celebrate military victory. It would celebrate peace, and it would stand in Washington, DC, and it would be unveiled on January 1, 2000. Cook even had a name for it: Millennium Gate.
But the 1990s came and went, then 2000, then 2001. The new millennium was turning out to be anything but peaceful, and Washington was in no mood to celebrate it. Cook’s big arch seemed destined for the dust bin of history.
But Rodney Mims Cook Jr had determination, and he also had something that a lot of us don’t — money and connections. He went home to Georgia and convinced a lot of his blue blood, old-line family friends that Millennium Gate would be perfect for Atlanta. They gave him $18 million. Construction began in 2005. It was still called Millennium Gate because, like the Golden Spike Tower, you don’t throw away a perfectly good name just because it no longer applies.
The Gate was unveiled on July 4, 2008, only 3,107 days after the millennium. It’s kind of skinny because it stands in the median of a busy highway, and it’s on a curve so that you can’t really see it from a distance. And its classical design seems out of place surrounded by new condos that look like they belong in Toon Town. But you can view Atlanta from its 82-foot summit. And its interior has a small museum of the history of city, with a special section devoted to the rich, powerful people whose vision and generosity make things like the Millennium Gate possible.