The aerial photographs below depict a block of land just Southeast of a highway interchange that forms the intersection of interstates 85 and 20. The image on the top was taken in 1949, two years after the interchange was planned for construction, and the image on the bottom depicts the landscape that remains following decades of expressway construction and redevelopment of surrounding land. While this area once belonged to a compact residential community with a thriving economy, significant changes in land use have reduced the area to being nearly undeveloped. Despite the area’s current state, the residential neighborhood that once existed in this block had undergone over half a century of rich and complex history, with both notable changes and consistencies throughout its lifetime.

Northwest Block, 1949
Northwest Block, 2024

From roughly 1899 to 1913, this block of land was almost entirely composed of small residential units, consisting of either one or two story homes, each housing only one person. Additionally, all residents living within the confines of the block are white, which remains consistent for the duration of the neighborhood’s existence in the following decades. While a few new housing developments arose at around 1913, the block would remain mostly the same at this point until the early 1930s, in which many of the single residences have been transformed into either apartment buildings or duplexes. As a result of these changes in the area’s overall housing density, the neighborhood as a whole could support a significantly higher population. As the residential population continued to grow throughout the 30s and 40s, the community’s economy would thrive, with various new businesses that would surround the block. However, the block itself would remain entirely residential. In this period, additional changes include the replacement of horse stables with private garages for cars as the neighborhood transitioned to a time in which cars have become increasingly popularized among normal residents.

Sanborn, 1899

Other than changes in housing types and transportation methods, this area still remained fairly consistent in terms of its land use and overall character until around 1950, immediately following the proposal for an expressway to run directly west of the block. Demolition would immediately begin after construction began nearby, and the displacement of residents would soon follow. Once the entire interchange was finally constructed, and after decades of variations in land use in this general area, all buildings ended up being demolished, and for years the land was completely vacant. Recently, however, the area became a construction site, and a new parking deck on Fulton Street is expected to be completed by May 2024. The parking deck is planned to have six stories, accommodating nearly 900 new parking spaces. This new building will be located directly west of the GSU Convocation Center, which is the building that the parking is intended to serve.


Lynch, M, Atlanta City Directory, (Atlanta, GA: V.V. Bullock and Mrs. F.A. Sanders), p. 236, Internet Archive, ( /2up: accessed March 7, 2024). 

Sanborn, D.A., “Atlanta 1899,” ProQuest, (https://digitalsanbornmaps-proquest-com.eu1.proxy. se_maps/11/1377/6152/6515/97070?accountid=11226: accessed March 7, 2024). 

Abrams Aerial Survey Corporation, “Aerial Survey, Atlanta, Georgia, 1949 (Mosaic),” ( /collection/PlanATL/id/10766/rec/1 accessed April 6, 2024).