1. Trail Network
A network of Native American trails led to a Creek Village called Standing Peach Tree at the confluence of the Chattahoochee River and Peachtree Creek. White settlers built a fort here during the War of 1812—the first manifestation of Atlanta, now the site of a water treatment plant. Such trails once traversed the area; many now take the shape of modern streets, like Peachtree Road and DeKalb Avenue.
2. Outfield Magnolia
Look for an old magnolia tree on the embankment between the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and the Whole Foods Market on Ponce. It once stood in-play in center field of Ponce de Leon Park, which hosted the city’s minor league baseball teams in the first half of the 20th century: the Atlanta Crackers and the Atlanta Black Crackers. Babe Ruth once hit a home run into the tree itself.
3. Carriage Stones
Well-heeled Atlantans once alighted from horse-drawn carriages onto granite steps placed at the edge of the street. Spot several such stones—and the occasional iron hitch—in historic neighborhoods like Inman Park along Euclid and Edgewood avenues.
4. Green Canopy
More than 1,000 evergreen trees at Piedmont Park came from the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club, which at the time was Fruitland Nurseries. In preparation for the grand 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition (the 1800s equivalent of snagging the Olympics), Atlanta organizers ordered the trees for $700.
5. Original Streetcar
In 1914 200 miles of streetcar track crisscrossed the city. Find evidence in the trapezoidal “flatiron” buildings indicating the gently yielding intersections of streetcar lines. Arkwright Place in Edgewood still bears a grassy median where tracks once ran, and a small flatiron still stands at the junction with Flat Shoals Avenue.
6. Fort X
Tech students may pass right by an overlooked Civil War fort. As Sherman’s army closed in, Confederates hastily constructed forts on the Westside, including Fort X (aka Fort Hood). The trench and earthen banks can still be seen next to the Habersham Building between Tech Parkway and Marietta Street.
What was your neighborhood originally called? Seven parts of town and their former monikers.
Now the Westside
Today the site of some of the city’s best restaurants and shops, the area was once home to the South’s first large-scale meatpacking plant (read: slaughterhouse). Until the 1940s, the corridor was packed with butchers, barns, and livestock; it’s where you’d go to bid on a new mule. At the Miller Union Stockyards, cattle stepped off train cars and awaited their final destination: Atlantans’ supper tables.
Now part of the Old Fourth Ward
Thousands of residents, most black, once lived in small, clapboard homes in a gully east of downtown. The neighborhood was bulldozed to make way for the Civic Center in the 1960s, and 1,000 households were displaced—some to public housing, others to nowhere at all.
Now Castleberry Hill
Reportedly named for the ubiquitous snake oil peddlers, this section of Peters Street was notorious for criminal activity until Moral Party supporters burned it to the ground following the 1851 mayoral election.
Now the area around Grady Hospital
In the mid-19th century, when Atlanta was just building itself into a city, this site was home to a large sawmill that churned out wood for the developing railroad. Around the mill, workers built homes from slabs of scrap wood given away on the job.
Now South Atlanta
Freed slaves settled this community, which became home to Clark University (and an elite African American community) until 1941 when the school moved to the West End and became Clark Atlanta. But the streets still bear the names of the first professors, and the college’s circa-1922 Leete Hall is now Carver High School.
Now the area around Freedom Parkway
Founded in 1890 and situated on the city’s streetcar line, this neighborhood was Atlanta’s second “garden suburb” after Inman Park. Much of the area was rezoned for industrial use in 1929, and then razed in the 1960s for an interstate that was never built (page 81).
Now the area around Frankie Allen Park
Founded by former slaves, this Buckhead community boasted grocery stores, churches, and a saloon by 1920. Then in the 1940s, Fulton County turned it into a public park. One of the few remnants of the area’s African American past is small Mt. Olive Cemetery, which was recently “adopted” and spruced up by the Buckhead Heritage Society.
Visit a cemetery not called Oakland
Across 600 acres on the west side, find the graves of many of Atlanta’s elites, including Asa Candler and Joel Chandler Harris, and an enormous ornate stone abbey more reminiscent of medieval Europe than Atlanta.
Just south of Westview is a burial ground with large sections for Greeks, Chinese, and Jews, including a pillared “Memorial to the Six Million” killed in the Holocaust.
Nearly 80,000 African Americans have been laid to rest at South-View in southeast Atlanta. It’s home to many black elites, but also victims of the 1906 race riots and a series of child murders from 1979 to 1981.