the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: Henry Hyman

The Full Story of The Temple Bombing

The Temple, or as it was also known, The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, was originally located at the corner of Richardson and Pryor. 1 It wasn’t until 1931 that the congregation moved further away from downtown and transferred to the intersection of Peachtree and Spring Street where it still stands today.2

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South West Atlanta Jewish Life

The Southwestern section of the Highway Interchange project contained mostly suburban neighborhoods. Unlike other residential areas that were densely populated, there was more distance that separated the dwellings. Upon the turn of the 20th century, this area didn’t have many notable structures, but there seemed to be a strong presence of religious life, specifically Jewish life. It was mainly synagogues that locals of this area flocked to for a sense of community.

1899 Sanborn Maps
1899 Atlanta Fire Insurance Sanborn Map 1

Communal Pillars

The Synagogue known as the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, located at the corner of South Pryor and Richardson Streets, served its community in Atlanta and around the world. A memorial service was held in December of 1905, after news spread of Jewish murders by Russian assassins. The ceremony was called by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and was meant as a non-violent protest against the conditions in which Jews suffered in Russia. Congregation Rabi, David Marx, gave a brief speech and announced a national fund that gave proceeds to Jewish communities in Russia. Atlanta Jews contributed $2,000 to this fund.2

1905 memorial service

The Jewish community of these neighborhoods had a lengthy history, long before the interstate construction. In January 1916, The Hebrew Benevolent Synagogue celebrated its forty-ninth anniversary with a communal dinner and congregation meeting. The event was led by Isaac Schoen, president of the congregation, and Rabbi Marx who had been the communal rabbi for twenty years. Markx gave his annual report to the community, urging his congregation to discover, “nobler ideals and works,”. 3 Marx continued to say in his report that the community will never be bankrupt in their spirituality, because new members are constantly being introduced, such as the children of current or previous members. The main idea of this report was to express how much the congregation has grown since being established almost fifty years ago.

1916 article of 49th anniversary

Today, the interstate highway is located where this integral synagogue once resided. The highway impacted Atlanta in countless ways, but its impact on the Atlanta Jewish community will never be forgotten. What used to be thriving residential neighborhoods, full of religious life, is now only recognized as part of the highways’s many lanes.

  1. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, FultonCounty, Georgia
    . Sanborn Map Company, 1899. Map. ↩︎
  2. “MEMORIAL SERVICE HELD.: HEBREW BENEVOLENT CONGREGATION HELD MOURNING SERVICE AT JEWISH TEMPLE LAST NIGHT.” 1905.The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Dec 05, 10. (Accessed April 7, 2024) ↩︎
  3. “HEBREW BENEVOLENT CONGREGATION WILL CELEBRATE 49TH ANNIVERSARY.” 1916.The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jan 11, 6. (Accessed April 6, 2024) ↩︎

Federal Court of Appeals Building

At the intersection of Forsyth and Walton Street lies the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. As a Georgia State student, besides coming to class at the Aderhold Learning Center, I typically only find myself in this part of the city to check out all the fun hole-in-the wall restaurants lining Broad Street. Very rarely do I explore beyond the typical limits of this campus, until I learned that so much of our city’s history remains right in front of me as I walk the streets of Downtown Atlanta. After discovering the courthouse, I find it quite embarrassing that I never took the time before to acknowledge this famous building, and brushed it off as if it was just another office building, or even a bank.

a selfie of me in front of the U.S. Courthouse Plaque
Henry and the Courthouse Plaque

Following the events of the Civil War, funding was approved by Congress for a building that offered both postal and legal services. The land the building was founded on was established in 1907, and was completed 3 years later in 1910. James Knox Taylor of the U.S. Treasury was the lead architect of the building and was a part of the post war efforts of, “beautifying Atlanta,”. 1

The Courthouse is another example of a common theme explored in this course so far. Far too often, I walk around campus and downtown and never bother to look around me enough to realize how much history surrounds me every day. I’m glad I was able to discover this building, and makes me feel just a bit better now that I can tell someone where the 11th Circuit Federal Appeals Court resides in our city.

  1. “Elbert P. Tuttle U.S. Court of Appeals Building, Atlanta, GA.” GSA. Accessed February 21, 2024.
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