the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: Fernando Andrade

Serving the Community: The Shopping Center that became Plaza Fiesta

Plaza Fiesta main entrance facing Clairmont Rd1

As a first-generation Mexican-American, Plaza Fiesta is a place with fond memories. The plaza was one of the rare places where I felt that I fit in, away from the stares of others. I grew up in a majority-white community in Cherokee County, Woodstock. So, getting to experience places like Plaza Fiesta occasionally was very refreshing for me and my family. Here, we didn’t have to worry about our English proficiency. Instead, we didn’t need English at all. My father got to ask all his silly questions without me having to translate them, and my mother got to feel a little less homesick. Granted, this is only one of many small spaces along Buford Highway that give Mexican families a sense of familiarity. However, Plaza Fiesta is different because it is the only market designed for Hispanic communities to spend their day like they would in their countries.

Looking at this lot’s history, we can see the evolution of Buford Highway and its demographic change. We will also see that the lot has always been geared towards the community in the area. This lot, along with many other spaces in the corridor, shows the adaptability and openness to new business regardless of race.

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Fulton County High School on Washington Street

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Atlanta Constitution image of Fulton County High School on Washington Street

When construction on Fulton County High School on Washington Street was finally completed after over a year, it was considered “one of the largest and most modern school structures in the entire southeast.” The school in 1925 was built with two stories and fireproof construction to deal with previous congestion in older buildings. The building would also have steel lockers for all its students, a vast cafeteria with 400 students, and an auditorium with 1,200 people. The cost of the building was half a million dollars compared to today’s money, which would cost between eight to nine million dollars. This building would serve all the kids in Fulton County, even those outside Atlanta’s city limits, like East Point and College Park. At the time, there were 740 students enrolled. 1

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My Walk by the Walton-Forsyth Building

Forsyth-Walton Building

The Forsyth-Walton Building caught my eye because it is almost hidden within all the more modern skyscrapers of Atlanta. It gives a glance at what old Atlanta structures were like, lower to the ground with two floors, retail shops at the bottom with office space on top, or perhaps a living space. I knew the building had some age, but it came to my surprise when I found out it was constructed in 1900. It was revamped in 1936, adding an Art Deco façade to its exterior. Other than this, I couldn’t find much else about the building other than it being under threat of demolition temporarily but found to be under no threat.

Passing by the building gives the sense that it had a lot of character, maybe because it was so different from the rest. The Farlie-Poplar historic district has many buildings from different periods and many from the same. Many buildings had a similar feel, and the area seemed surprisingly quiet and almost peaceful. The area is somewhat of a tiny reflection of Atlanta’s past. It’s like a little collage of different time periods.

Investigating this area gave me a lot of enjoyment because it isn’t an area I would have thought to explore. Except when we were on our last walking tour, I saw the Forsyth-Walton Building. It made me curious about what other types of buildings like it are hidden within plain sight. Especially with a growing city like Atlanta, it makes me want to find more since it could possibly be the last time, considering Atlanta’s trend regarding historic areas. I plan to explore this area and search for other parts of Atlanta with historic buildings. Plus, having a little walk is always super friendly and refreshing.

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