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

Eastside Atlanta neighborhoods were almost split by an interstate

Forgotten Atlanta
1985: Protesters attempting to block construction of Freedom Parkway

Photograph by Dwight Ross Jr./Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

The east side’s Freedom Parkway is a mere shadow of the proposed I-485 and Stone Mountain Freeway, which would have converged between Inman Park and Poncey-Highland. In the 1970s more than 200 acres were cleared and historic homes destroyed to make way. Ultimately neighborhood activists—“road busters”—from Morningside, Druid Hills, Candler Park, Inman Park, and Virginia-Highland successfully mobilized to halt the construction. They found a champion in Mayor Maynard Jackson, who established the Neighborhood Planning Unit system, which became an innovative model of involving citizens in city planning. That empty strip of land? It became a linear park dotted with public art.