the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: John Hutchins

The Battle of Atlanta

In a Time Long Ago…

A War Department map detailing the locations of major fighting around Atlanta in July of 1864, with Confederate earthworks in black and Federal Earthworks in red. Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

For many residents of Atlanta’s Eastside, US-23 (or Moreland Avenue) is the backbone of their community. It connects the vibrant cultural hubs of Little Five Points and East Atlanta Village to a myriad of classic Eastside neighborhoods such as Candler Park and East Atlanta. While this route may be a high-traffic residential road today, in 1864 it was little more than undeveloped farmland—unremarkable in every way except its role as the dividing line between Fulton and Dekalb counties. However, as Sherman’s Federal armies made their way towards Atlanta, this undistinguished strip of land would become the site of some of the fiercest fighting experienced by participants of the Atlanta Campaign in the American Civil War. While this clash of arms took place in an area that was, at the time, southeast of the city limits, the action which centered around Federal fortifications at Bald Hill came to be known both to its contemporaries and historians as the Battle of Atlanta. The Battle of Atlanta, though a fierce and bloody contest, would prove inconsequential to the fate of the city and today is a forgotten relic of Atlanta’s past, its historical markers serving as the only testaments to this tremendous folly of war.

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The Flatiron Building

A selfie of me in front of the Flatiron Building.

To be completely transparent, despite living within the city limits for the vast majority of my life, until attending class on the main campus I have always avoided Downtown like the plague. I have never been a fan of this section of the city, but my time at GSU has softened my stance towards this neighborhood and I have come to appreciate some of it’s characteristics. One of these is the unique architecture that can be found throughout Downtown that is not present in the rest of Atlanta. In my opinion, the Flatiron Building is unmatched in this regard. I have come to greatly appreciate it’s unique feel; whenever I cross it’s path, it makes me feel as though I have taken a step back in time to the turn of the 20th century. In an era where the urban landscape of this city is rapidly changing, this building and it’s timelessness has become a source of comfort for me.

The Flatiron building, circa 1921. 1

I decided to delve into the history of this building some for this assignment, and was astonished to find out that it was originally called the English-American building. It was named for the English-American Loan and Trust Company, whom architect Bradford Gilbert designed it for. Construction on the building ended in 1897, and it is now considered to be Atlanta’s oldest standing skyscraper. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Atlanta’s Flatiron actually predates New York’s more well-known Flatiron Building by four years, as the latter was not constructed until 1901. Ownership of the building has changed hands 3 times since 1920, and it is currently owned by Historic Urban Equities Limited. While the area around the building has changed over the decades since it’s inception, the Flatiron Building has managed to remain an anchor of the Business district in Downtown Atlanta.2

  1. Ewing Galloway, Atlanta’s “Flatiron” Building, Broad and Peachtree Streets, Atlanta, Georgia, .jpg file,, April 21, 2013, (Accessed February 15, 2022)
  2. “English-American Building.” National Park Service. (accessed February 15, 2022)
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