Rich’s Department Store began operations in 1867 as M.Rich & Co in Atlanta. Morris Rich, a Hungarian immigrant who settled in Atlanta, founded the company. He opened a small dry goods store that year that would grow into a retail empire over the course of his life. From its inception, Rich separated his business from that of other retailers. He employed a liberal credit policy, giving patrons more time than usual to pay their debts. He also insisted on customer satisfaction, giving Rich’s the long-lasting reputation of having some of the best customer service in the city4. As his operations grew in the late 1870s, he pioneered a one-price policy. The need for bargaining over price was eliminated. The business would become a family affair as his brothers Emanuel and Daniel Rich joined the company. In 1884 the company name reflected this change, becoming M. Rich & Bros. Rich saw continued growth as his company gained more recognition within Atlanta and made several relocations to expand the store. In 1907 the company relocated to 52-54-56 Whitehall Street, where they opened their largest department store yet.
Peachtree Center is one of my favorite train stations in Atlanta. Not only is it Atlanta’s deepest subway station but it also integrates really well with surrounding buildings. The lack of massive bus bays and parking lots typically seen at almost every MARTA station makes the compact entrances to the station feel like you are entering the subway in a city like New York or Chicago.
The station offers an easy connection to the Mall at Peachtree Center if you want to grab a quick lunch and GSU’s Aderhold Learning Center and College of Law. This station also serves as the hub for tourism in Atlanta with many of Atlanta’s most famous attractions and largest hotels within a close proximity. It is fascinating to watch tourists from all across the world get off trains at this Peachtree Center, suitcases in hand emerging from the station seeing Downtown Atlanta maybe for the first time ever. Something that fascinates me, even more, is a part of MARTA history you can easily overlook while checking your phone going down the station’s steep escalator. At the escalator serving the joint entrance of the post office and train station hangs a MARTA system map rarely seen.
The map depicts the same lines and stations present today but with an additional five lines lines with no stations on them. The Tucker North Dekalb, Northwest, Hapeville, Proctor Creek lines, plus one Busway are all depicted. They were planned train lines that never came to fruition. Looking at the direction of the lines on the map, MARTA would serve many more communities today if even just one of the lines was built out as planned. I can only imagine what Atlanta would be like today if train service was expanded past the four lines available today. Unfortuantly, none of these lines were ever built and today MARTA has no plans to expand rail services in these areas. Still, this piece of history is a reminder of what could have been of Atlanta’s public transportation network.