the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: Marni Davis

What lies beneath a highway interchange?

This is a map of the interchange just south of downtown Atlanta. Today, it’s where the Downtown Connector (I-75 and I-85) and I-20 meet … But what was here before the highways?

Look at the drop-down list for “Highway Interchange Excavation” to see what GSU students discovered about the history of this erased section of Atlanta.

Downtown ATL’s history hides in plain sight

The big concrete plaza in front of 25 Park Place is kind of blah, but every once in a while I stop there to admire the marble columns in front of the building. They remind me that so many of Atlanta’s beautiful old structures have been destroyed and replaced by modern architecture. But I think it’s kind of sly that the city kept these pieces so we might ponder them. What were they? Why are they there now?

Dr. Davis in front of the Equitable columns at 25 Park Place NE
Dr. Davis and the columns

These three marble columns (and the façade behind it, inside the GSU Career Services center) were once part of the Equitable building, which stood where GSU’s CMII building is now. When it was built in 1892, it was the tallest skyscraper in the city (eight stories — back then that was a really tall building). It was originally known as the Trust Company of Georgia building.

When the building was demolished in 1971, its eighteen columns were scattered around the city. I have no idea why these three are here today, or how the building’s arched entrance came to be preserved and installed inside. Maybe the SunTrust Banks did it, when they owned this building?

However they got here, I’m always glad to notice these lovely pieces of craftsmanship. It feels like some weird random piece of old Atlanta has been plopped down on a barren and characterless public urban plaza. I dig the juxtaposition.

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