Beautiful old cobblestone is peeking through the pavement at Peachtree Walk and 13th Street.  Nearby is the former home of renowned journalist and author Celestine Sibley, which sits boarded up and for lease.  A giant magnolia tree shields it from the ugly rear of the 14th Street Marriott.  

An advertisment for “The Cove,” a now demolished gay bar that was on Worchester Drive off Monroe Drive.  How very retro.
Atlanta, GA
(via The Cove - OutHistory)

An advertisment for “The Cove,” a now demolished gay bar that was on Worchester Drive off Monroe Drive.  How very retro.

Atlanta, GA

(via The Cove - OutHistory)

Renaming Atlanta’s streets has been a pain in the a$$ since at least 1876…

While doing some research on tiny former vice district Collins Street for an upcoming performance piece, I found this 1876 letter written to the editors of the Atlanta Constitution protesting its possible renaming.  I couldn’t help but think of the recent controversy surrounding the renaming of Harris Street to John Portman Boulevard. It’s creepy how history repeats itself…read and laugh.

EDITORS CONSTITUTION: At the last meeting of the city council we noticed with surprise, that a committee to whom the matter had been referred, reported in favor of changing the name of Collins street to North Washington Street.  We noticed with still more surprise that the council adopted the report of the committee and directed an ordinance be drawn making the change.  

This action we think was hasty and premature, and should be reconsidered.  The proposed change of name is wrong.  Many years ago Washington street was known as Collins, and was change to Washington for the reason that there was no connection across the Georgia railroad.  For no other reason. Mr. James A. Collins after whom said street was named, was one of the pioneers of Atlanta.  He was an enterprising and worthy citizen, a good merchant and business man, respected for his virtues by his fellow townsmen, who at that early day saw it fit to name the street for him.  The name is short and euphoneous.  It is blended with the early history of Atlanta, and is designated on the maps of the city, and also upon the records both of the city and county in such a way that it is unwise to make the change at this late day.

Besides, if our city council encourages this changing of names of our street when and where will it stop.  With equal propriety they may change the names of Calhoun, Ivy, Loyd, Pryor, Peachtree, Whitehall, and a host of others, at the suggestion of fastidious gentlemen who might imagine himself shamed at the obscurity or low origin from whence the names of said streets sprung.  Let council reconsider.

CITIZEN

So basically the arguments against street renaming are the same:  it erases Atlanta’s early history, it’s a nuisance to change maps, signs, and records, and it sets a bad precedent.  Also, it’s ironic that all of the “endangered” streets listed in the last paragraph have indeed been changed since the letter’s penning.  Calhoun Street = Piedmont Avenue, Ivy Street = Peachtree Center Avenue, Loyd Street = Central Avenue, part of Pryor Street has been changed to Park Place, and Peachtree was extended to encompass Whitehall Street.

Woodruff Park in 1984 when it was known as Central City Park. 
Atlanta, GA
(via Atlanta Time Machine)

Woodruff Park in 1984 when it was known as Central City Park. 

Atlanta, GA

(via Atlanta Time Machine)

These are photos from my venture inside Midtown’s Fort Peace (aka “The Castle”) during one of CIRCA's behind-the-scenes tours in 2009.  The building was for sale at that time, and it was in pretty rough shape.  There's so much great history behind this structure.  For instance, the plaster seals above the fireplaces are reported to have come from buildings at the Cotton States & International Exposition held in Piedmont Park in 1895.  It was also an important site for the Beat/bohemian/hippie scene of the 1950s-1960s.  Work is currently underway to transform Fort Peace into a restaurant and hotel, so hopefully it’ll continue to be a landmark for years to come.

This was the Memorial (now Woodruff) Arts Center under construction in 1967.  Notice the Castle in the background, fronted by a long gone apartment building.  It’s weird to see it surrounded by trees instead of office towers.

This was the Memorial (now Woodruff) Arts Center under construction in 1967.  Notice the Castle in the background, fronted by a long gone apartment building.  It’s weird to see it surrounded by trees instead of office towers.

Some thoughts plate #59 of the 1949 Atlanta aerial, which roughly translates to Pershing Point on the north, below 15th Street on the south, the Connector on the west, and Piedmont Avenue on the east:
Check out the huge chunk of undeveloped land at the top left corner!  I’m guessing it belonged to whoever lived in the large house near the top of the photo.  Atlantic Steel was on the west side of this estate which now sits under concrete as the 75/85 split.
Pershing Point was such a dense, lively node at this time; now we’ve got a bland office building and a bunch of empty land.  The destruction of these structures was one of Midtown’s greatest preservation losses, IMO.  The guy who tore it all down, Post Properties developer John Williams, was later quoted saying that it was one of his biggest regrets.  Oh now you want good urbanism.
This stretch of Peachtree was still dominated by single family homes in 1949; commercial development would speed up in the next decade.
There was a monster apartment building next door to the Reid House at 16th Street.  Also, next to the First Church of Christ Scientist was a pretty cool apartment structure.  I’ve can’t find a full frontal pic of it, but at the top of this page is a rather grand rendering. 

Some thoughts plate #59 of the 1949 Atlanta aerial, which roughly translates to Pershing Point on the north, below 15th Street on the south, the Connector on the west, and Piedmont Avenue on the east:

  • Check out the huge chunk of undeveloped land at the top left corner!  I’m guessing it belonged to whoever lived in the large house near the top of the photo.  Atlantic Steel was on the west side of this estate which now sits under concrete as the 75/85 split.
  • Pershing Point was such a dense, lively node at this time; now we’ve got a bland office building and a bunch of empty land.  The destruction of these structures was one of Midtown’s greatest preservation losses, IMO.  The guy who tore it all down, Post Properties developer John Williams, was later quoted saying that it was one of his biggest regrets.  Oh now you want good urbanism.
  • This stretch of Peachtree was still dominated by single family homes in 1949; commercial development would speed up in the next decade.
  • There was a monster apartment building next door to the Reid House at 16th Street.  Also, next to the First Church of Christ Scientist was a pretty cool apartment structure.  I’ve can’t find a full frontal pic of it, but at the top of this page is a rather grand rendering
The 1949 aerial survey of Atlanta that’s been digitalized by GSU is a gift from baby Jesus.  124 high quality photos are ripe for dorking over, and I plan on doing just that.  Well, maybe not all 124, but I will be picking apart the ones I find most interesting.
Click here to see the killer hi-def version of this image, and here to access the rest of the fascinating aerials.  Be sure to zoom in!  
These are my observations on this photo, # 60, which covers Midtown from roughly the site of the Connector on the west, almost to Taft Avenue on the east, south to 8th Street, and just below 15th street to the north. 
Juniper Street stopped at 12th Street.
10th Street was kinked at Crescent Ave and West Peachtree Street.
The future path of the Connector was oddly undeveloped.  It’s like it was meant to be…
The odd tile-roofed brick classical 1/3 of a building that fronts the electric substation on Spring Street between 13th and 12th Streets was whole.  I’ve gathered that this structure was involved in powering the trolleys, but I need to do some more research.  I wonder at what point it was severed?
10th Street at Peachtree was such a dense commercial district!  It’s sad that the street level activity of that node has been lost.  People are walking there, but they’re usually en route to somewhere else.
14th Street was really a signature residential thoroughfare, and many of those homes became hippy crash pads 20 years later.  The construction of Colony Square signaled the end of that era.
Peachtree Place did not exist between Peachtree Street and Juniper Street.
9th Street has never linked Piedmont Ave and Juniper Street.
The 10th Street School was a major building between Piedmont and Juniper. That’s a building I wish would have made it to current day; from what I can tell it occupied the empty lot next to the fire station. I wonder when it bit the dust?
At least since 1949, the intersection of 10th St and Piedmont Ave has only had one building that’s built out to the street corner (the one that currently houses Outwrite).  From what I can tell the other 3 corners have held gas stations at one point or another.   

The 1949 aerial survey of Atlanta that’s been digitalized by GSU is a gift from baby Jesus.  124 high quality photos are ripe for dorking over, and I plan on doing just that.  Well, maybe not all 124, but I will be picking apart the ones I find most interesting.

Click here to see the killer hi-def version of this image, and here to access the rest of the fascinating aerials.  Be sure to zoom in!  

These are my observations on this photo, # 60, which covers Midtown from roughly the site of the Connector on the west, almost to Taft Avenue on the east, south to 8th Street, and just below 15th street to the north. 

  • Juniper Street stopped at 12th Street.
  • 10th Street was kinked at Crescent Ave and West Peachtree Street.
  • The future path of the Connector was oddly undeveloped.  It’s like it was meant to be…
  • The odd tile-roofed brick classical 1/3 of a building that fronts the electric substation on Spring Street between 13th and 12th Streets was whole.  I’ve gathered that this structure was involved in powering the trolleys, but I need to do some more research.  I wonder at what point it was severed?
  • 10th Street at Peachtree was such a dense commercial district!  It’s sad that the street level activity of that node has been lost.  People are walking there, but they’re usually en route to somewhere else.
  • 14th Street was really a signature residential thoroughfare, and many of those homes became hippy crash pads 20 years later.  The construction of Colony Square signaled the end of that era.
  • Peachtree Place did not exist between Peachtree Street and Juniper Street.
  • 9th Street has never linked Piedmont Ave and Juniper Street.
  • The 10th Street School was a major building between Piedmont and Juniper. That’s a building I wish would have made it to current day; from what I can tell it occupied the empty lot next to the fire station. I wonder when it bit the dust?
  • At least since 1949, the intersection of 10th St and Piedmont Ave has only had one building that’s built out to the street corner (the one that currently houses Outwrite).  From what I can tell the other 3 corners have held gas stations at one point or another.   
View, c. 1903, of the house architect Willis Denny designed for M. R. Emmons in 1900 at the northwest corner of Peachtree Street and Peachtree Place. In the background at right, is the only photographic documentation of the Margaret Mitchell House on its original site. (Atlanta History Center)

View, c. 1903, of the house architect Willis Denny designed for M. R. Emmons in 1900 at the northwest corner of Peachtree Street and Peachtree Place. In the background at right, is the only photographic documentation of the Margaret Mitchell House on its original site. (Atlanta History Center)

1895 map of Midtown Atlanta.  Notice the previous names of the streets in parenthesis: 14th St. was Wilson Ave.; 13th St. was Center St.; 11th St. was Harrison Ave.; 10th Street was Bleckley Ave.; and 8th St. was Walker Street.  Also, Piedmont Avenue was at one time called Calhoun Street, and Crescent Ave was still known as Macon Street.  Some of the numbered streets changed names when they crossed Peachtree Street as well. Confused yet?  Click the link for a more detailed view.

1895 map of Midtown Atlanta.  Notice the previous names of the streets in parenthesis: 14th St. was Wilson Ave.; 13th St. was Center St.; 11th St. was Harrison Ave.; 10th Street was Bleckley Ave.; and 8th St. was Walker Street.  Also, Piedmont Avenue was at one time called Calhoun Street, and Crescent Ave was still known as Macon Street.  Some of the numbered streets changed names when they crossed Peachtree Street as well. Confused yet?  Click the link for a more detailed view.