19 things you didn’t know about Atlanta’s past

Atlanta once had its own “Berlin Wall”

Forgotten Atlanta
1962: The two-foot, 10-inch barricades were erected to create a north-south divide on Peyton and Harlan roads in southwest Atlanta.

Photograph courtesy of the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center

Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. is often remembered for supporting desegregation in the name of good business, even saying in his inaugural address, “It was in Berlin that the tragic and dramatic lesson of what happens to a divided city came home to me.” But in 1962, his first year in office, that image was tarnished when Allen responded to requests from a white neighborhood in Cascade Heights to erect road barricades intended to keep black people from moving in as they began buying homes in southwest Atlanta. Protesters quickly invoked comparisons to the Berlin Wall. A few months later, a judge declared the walls unconstitutional, and a chagrined Allen ordered them down immediately.