Tag Archives: atlanta

demolition time again

Times they are a’changin’. Well, really nothing about TIME is a’changin’, Atlanta’s doing what she’s always done, we’ve had a bit of reprieve thanks to the down economy and perhaps that’s why the swath of demolitions is suddenly so noticeable, but the streetscapes in midtown are certainly changing, again. A few months ago I took a nice stroll around midtown Atlanta, from Rhodes Hall down Spring, and down the ‘teenth streets all the way to Crescent. I discovered a couple historic residences i didn’t know exited, including the Castle on 15th, and I later learned it’s renown in annals of Atlanta preservation. I found Front Page News midtown houses in a chopped up old house and neighboring restaurants the same, a half intact residential block nestled among skyscrapers—rockin! I found a creepy old residence, converted to restaurant, hair salon, and a jumble of other possible retail activity before being abandoned behind it’s old magnolia and encroaching tropical plants. This house is coming down today. They’ve already torn out the mid-section and I imagine i can hear the beeping of bulldozers in reverse even from here at Rhodes Hall. Sad, but who was going to fight for this mangled old midtown building, once home to Atlanta lives long-forgotten? And that magnolia, it would’ve had to go, although I think there is some Southern biblical thing about not cutting down the magnolia grandiflora.


Sadder maybe is what demolition means for the evolution of an area. Lunch the other day found us on Crescent Ave NE, which used to look like the screenshot below. Front Page News is still holding it’s own but that adorable green house was already half gone, making room for something new that will maximize land-use profitability on the corner. However, with land being cleared for another new construction one block back, you have to wonder what this spells out for the rest of that enclave of low-story and mostly residential structures tucked so poetically among the highrises. Diversity is disappearing, you can bet whatever goes up next will not be bright green and cloaked come spring in purple wisteria. Diversity is beautiful.

Buttermilk Bottom

Once you’ve heard of a place called “Buttermilk Bottom” how can you resist spreading the word??! H actually stumbled upon it on the Atlanta Time Machine website, in the form of a song, and shared it with me. This song memorializes a poor black neighborhood on the edge of downtown, the floodplains, the lowlands, the bottom of Atlanta. The name may come from the smell that permeated the area caused by the backed up water in the downward sloping sewers. In the mid-20th century this neighborhood still had no telephones or electric lights. The African-American neighborhood was considered a slum and the city did not feel the need to invest improve conditions there until they found a new, more economically productive use for it.

In the early 1960s, under the banner of “Urban Renewal,” The “crime-ridden neighborhood” was torn down to make way for the Atlanta Civic Center which was built in 1967, and other “improvements” to the city of Atlanta. All that’s left of those chatty front porches, churches, corner stores and juke joints is a plaque at Ralph McGill and Piedmont, and a song that’ll get you shaking your hips.

The exact boundaries of the old Buttermilk Bottom today are unclear, the Civic Center now stands on part of the larger area which was the western end of the Old 4th Ward, in the floodplain between Ralph McGill and Peachtree. The photo above shows Mayor Hartsfield scoping out the slum near Piedmont in 1959.

descending to MARTA

Descending into the depths of the Earth This morning I got on Marta (technically MARTA) at the Peachtree Center station for the first time and was shocked at the escalators that just went down and down and dowwwwwwnn. Yikes, it made me a little nervous but i reminded myself that i’d been on plenty of deep escalators under the streets of New York so I should not worry. In fact, it turns out that Peachtree Center station is marta’s deepest (thank goodness) at 125 feet below street level. The deepest station in New York (which is only accessible by elevator actually made me QUITE nervous the one time I went got off there) is 180 feet below the street—191st St station up near Inwood.

With the Peachtree Center station I really had to wonder ‘why so deep?’ after all, the next station just a few blocks away is perched ABOVE the interstate! I was unable to find a cutaway of the Marta station depths like i wanted but I DID find this awesome Marta Guide for trepidatious Marta riders and experienced Marta commuters alike. It includes articles on how to navigate individual stations, what restaurants or attractions are nearby and general tips on courtesy and ease of use. Who knew! Now I wish i had an iPhone to keep this information handy–now, should I exit the train to the left or right to get to Eastbound…

Atlanta’s most historic Coca-Cola landmark

So, I know you want to know about the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on the corner of Edgewood and Courtland in downtown Atlanta. It’s a beautiful gem of a Victorian building and doesn’t look a thing like it could have seen anything akin to manufacturing. It looks like a little Victorian house, maybe with a saloon on the bottom floor…

125 Edgewood 1893-2011

In 1886 Joel Hurt and Samuel Inman formed the East Atlanta Land Company, that’s right, Inman Park, Druid Hills, the Hurt Building, and … Edgewood Avenue. Edgewood didn’t even exist until 1888, when Hurt, wanting a direct line to run a streetcar to his upcoming subdivision, made it happen (by coercing the legislature, buying up land along the route via the East Atl Land Co, and leaning on the city to condemn properties he was unable to purchase). 125 Edgewood at the future corner of Courtland and Edgewood appears to be one of the properties he bought, as well as most of the Edgewood frontage on that block and in 1891 the Victorian commericial/residential building was built. The historic picture below is from 1893, the streets were still dirt, but a streetcar line was already operating to Inman Park.

Meanwhile, another shrewd Atlanta businessman (and later Inman Park resident), Asa Candler, was building his own monopoly. After a good bit of swindling on Candler’s part, The Coca-Cola Company was officially formed and previous records were destroyed to obscure any dubious origins (wiki). In 1894 Joseph Biedenharn of Vicksburg, Mississippi, began bottling Coca-Cola to sell the soda to country customers “right off back of the turnip truck” (not sure if that was talking about the customers or the selling), Candler acknowledged the gratuitous cases sent him with a mere “that is fine”–he was not interested in bottling his product. On July 1, 1899, Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead of Chattanooga secured a contract to bottle Coca-Cola in the U.S. (excepting Mississippi and New England which had their bottling operations and Texas for the time being). They began in Chattanooga then Whitehead headed to Atlanta where he started the Dixie Bottling Company just one block down from Candler’s Coca-Cola Company headquarters at 179 Edgewood. That’s right, it was 1901 and Whitehead and Lupton opened the bottling operation in this cute little Victorian commericial/residential building, one of many businesses to grace this building with their presence over the 70 years or so of it’s operational existence. And it didn’t last long, not even long enough to appear in the City Directory before they moved to expand operations. But a picture below shows a sketch of the early bottling operations and how it may have appeared in this special little building.

So why is it a National Landmark? it wasn’t actually the site of the Coca-Cola Company, it wasn’t even where the drink was first bottled (certainly an significant step in its impact on the world), it wasn’t even the first official bottling operation condoned by Candler himself, but it was the site of the FIRST OFFICIAL BOTTLING OPERATION IN GEORGIA. and that’s important.

After the Dixie Bottling Company moved out, 125 Edgewood was home again to a rotation of diverse enterprises: John Payton’s Beer Saloon around 1911, Joseph Horowitz Ladies clothing, and, for a couple decades, Virgil Shepard’s window display shop. Whereas this area had been largely racially mixed (black, white, Jewish), by the 1920s it seems that things were more segregated and the block was mostly comprised of black-owned businesses evident by their advertisements appearing in the Atlanta Daily World, the offices of which were just around the corner on Auburn.

Adventures in Parking #2

You may not all know about #1 but that was when i locked my keys in my car downtown. At that time I accidentally forgot to pay for parking and it went unnoticed, but last night the illicitness was intentional. I thought I could get away with it and left my car in a gated lot, only to find, at 9:35 when i got to the desolate part of the block i’d parked on that my car was locked inside! i was so stressed with school I calmly decided not to worry about it til morning, immediately preparing myself to pay whatever it took. Thank goodness for neighbor classmates—I called J and she gave me a lift home.

There was nothing else for it, I woke up before 5am, early even by my studying standards (but Viv was still up first) and headed out the door for the 5:24 bus. Do they even run that early i wondered, but soon enough boarded a half-full bus which is pretty good for Marta! sure enough, 5:51 found me at Five Points and walking north toward my car, the streets were still shady. Moments after I arrived (gate still locked which i was glad of, hoping to catch the attendant), a Rapid Taxi van pulled up and a not-very-talkative fellow hoped out to unlock the gates, 6am on the dot.

I am totally in support of the disjointed 3rd party parking lot operator system! I drove out of there scot-free but you can bet i won’t be parking THERE again.

This put me on Peachtree headed north at 6:05am, an ungodly hour to be in downtown Atlanta, but lo and behold a Starbucks was open on the corner of 6th (or so, i’m not really sure how far up i am), so i’ve enjoyed watching the light come up and Atlantans come out in the early morning. I have to note that even the Starbucks on Peachtree has a local crowd, people know each other here, this one guy next to me chats with a kid and his dad, a girl with her out-of-town guests in for a conference says hello to other neighbors who ask about her dog, and an older fellow studying his Bible has an early morning meeting, while joggers come in for coffee before heading home to change for work. It’s been a rather enjoyable morning and i think, even if i’d had to shell out the dough, it would’ve been a good morning anyway. Now is it almost time for me to saunter on up Peachtree to Rhodes Hall where i will park my car totally legally and free for the rest of the day.

it is also pretty cool that i can take a photo with my computer for this post (:

tree sale

As I type this the annual Tree Sale at Trees Atlanta over in Cabbagetown (or Reynoldstown as they say) is still going on, but Viv and I arrived right at 8:00 to make sure we got what we wanted. Viv was prepared, armed with the list and notes all over it, we got 2 tea olives and then 2 more orange tea olives cause they were priced right, a sycamore and, our one impulse purchase, a curly cue filbert (hazelnut) which may or may produce nuts, but it is one heck of a delightful-looking plant.

tree sale 2

Trees Atlanta is one of the coolest non profits this city has. They began in the 1980s planted trees downtown because there were NO trees really at all, an appalling sight. Today, downtown’s street trees are beautiful and shady. Dad was headed this way in Jackson of course, with his plant now ask later, or rather, plant now, point out to the mowers later. Perhaps one day there will be such an organization, official and supported in Jackson! Anyway, more of Trees Atlanta history can be read here.

The tree sale happens every year, a good way to get a huge variety of trees for your yard. Tree Atlanta, while they are responsible for CREATING a lot of greenspace have also taken it upon themselves to take care of the trees both that they plant and that exist. They understand that for the city and citizens to be happy with them, they need to place trees appropriately for traffic and keep them limbs out of joggers’ eyeballs. To this end, pruning is probably the most important and never-ending task that the organization has and they offer classes in Piedmont Park (where they also plant) on pruning and you have to graduate from to be on the volunteer pruning task force. When it comes to planting, Trees Atlanta knows their trees and select appropriate trees for each site (and no Bradford Pears of course) and native.

After the tree sale, we stopped at Homegrown for breakfast (how could we not?) and saw a chicken crossing the road on the way over. no, seriously, we did.

wren’s nest

honestly, a wren’s nest in the mailbox is nothing new, nothing special to any one place though it is marvelous. We’ve almost always had wren’s nesting in our mailbox in jackson (ever since dad built this one at least—that note is to the mailman to please use the alternate mailbox) but we didn’t go and name a dang house after the phenomenon!

The Wren’s Nest IS special. I managed to drag B over there a few weeks ago on a Saturday and we got stuck listening to some storytelling. Stuck is relative, i loved it. When it was done, however, we were hungry and I opted to come back another time and “observe the interior of the house”, my real purpose. Joel Chandler Harris moved to this farmhouse in West End, Georgia, back in 1881. He’d married in 1873 and had a young family which he’d recently uprooted from Savannah in an attempt to escape the yellow fever. He was an author and journalist then, though the Brer Rabbit stories wouldn’t come til the late 1890s. The property then was 5 acres of “country” land, called a “snap bean farm” he would renovate the small Folk Victorian house in 1884/85 to become the Eastlake-style Victorian delight that it is today.

While i listened, interested obviously, to my tour guide, i was jotting notes on the interior design and furnishings. The intricate, usually floral Victorian wallpaper throughout, particularly the Art Nouveau sample in the living room, picture molding, wallpapered ceilings, floor cloths, a mismatched chair at the dining room table, beadboard wainscoting, the oak, late 1800’s golden oak furniture everywhere and the oak woodwork in the house was gorgeous. I have a new favorite. It made me sad that the girls at Sunshine found the golden oak dining room set hideously out-of-date in the 30s and demanded their papa replace it. I wish i knew what it looked like! Yes, I could live comfortably among the busy patterns and dark woodwork of Joel Chandler Harris’s house while reading up on all his books in the reading room or on his front porch. What a lovely life that would be.

now, if you’ve been following any of my links you may have noticed how much fun it is to read about the Wren’s Nest house museum on their website and blog, it might be due to the fact that their young(er than me??) Executive Director is of the Professional Organization of English Majors and also great-great-great grandson of Harris himself. Anyway, i recommend reading, visiting, and participating!