If you were to leave the Georgia State Campus going south, you pass on by the Georgia State capital before going over a bridge across I-75 and I-85. What will greet you is a concrete wasteland, filled with rusted idols dedicated to the past glories of the Olympics. While you may be tempted to quickly rush your way on further south to the rapidly gentrifying Summerhill, you may want to walk through the empty parking lots and wonder what came before.

The parking lot south of the convention center did not used to be an empty concrete scar across the Earth. Rather, its history whispers of a bevy of different inhabitants that called this empty lot home. Today we will examine the development of a forgotten block of homes, that lay between Richardson Street, Fulton Street, and Crew Street.

Koch, Augustus, ect, 1892.

Our first detailed view of the block comes from an illustration of the city of Atlanta during 1892.1 Six blocks south of the capital building, the block easily blends in with its surroundings. There were seventeen homes on this block. An interesting thing to note is that the homes facing Capital Avenue are much larger and wealthier than the rest. In addition, there is a home in the bottom middle of the block.

Sanborn, 1911

This home is gone with the 1911 Sanborn map of the area.2 In its place is a side street cutting through the block, dividing it in two. More housing is popping up on the top and bottom. However, the Capital Avenue facing houses retain large backyards while the Crew Street smaller duplexes and apartments are starting to lose space. Interestingly, a Sanitarium has been placed within the bottom left home. This was likely related to the Piedmont hospital which is a block below this block.

A mere twenty years can bring a lot of change and this block is no exception to this. The 1932 Sanborn map of the block shows a lot more development.3 The area is becoming more lower income as time goes on. We can see this with more housing being constructed in the backyards of the Capital Avenue facing homes and one of the homes being converted into a Duplex. More Apartments are constructed and homes are converted into other things. The sanitorium has become Irving Thomas Memorial Home for Girls and the northeast home has become a Jewish school.

Sanborn, 1932

The presence of a Jewish school signals that the location had a large Jewish population in the area. This is backed up by the Redlining maps which mention Jews and also corroborate information that this area was declining in wealth.4

The block was torn down in the face of highway development in the 1960s. The lot sat empty until 1964 when the Milwaukee Braves moved down to Atlanta and built their new stadium in the area.5 The block became part of the parking lot that serviced the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The stadium was destroyed in 1997 following the development in the area relating to the Olympics. Yet, the parking lot remains. Barren and empty, only holding the ghosts of the past.

  1. Koch, Augustus, Hughes Litho. Co, and Saunders And Kline. Bird’s eye view of Atlanta, Fulton Co., State capital, Georgia
    . [n.p. Saunders and Kline, 1892] Map. https://www.loc.gov/item/75693189/. ↩︎
  2. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, FultonCounty, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company, ; Vol.4, 1911 Map. https://digitalsanbornmaps-proquest-com.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/browse_maps/11/1377/6155/6525/98068?accountid=11226 ↩︎
  3. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, FultonCounty, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company, ; Vol.3, 1932 Map. https://digitalsanbornmaps-proquest-com.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/browse_maps/11/1377/6155/6525/98068?accountid=11226  ↩︎
  4. “Atlanta, Georgia.” Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal Americahttps://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/map/GA/Atlanta/area_descriptions/D12#loc=15/33.7365/-84.3831 (Accessed April 8, 2024) ↩︎
  5. Paul Newberry, Associated Press writer. “It Was Grand Opening for Turner Field.” New Bedford Standard-Times, January 11, 2011. https://www.southcoasttoday.com/story/sports/1997/04/05/it-was-grand-opening-for/50620739007/. ↩︎