FIRST DRAFT: Communal Differences: Little Five Points v. Virginia-Highlands (Built Environment Analysis)

While strolling down the stained sidewalks of Little Five Points, drum beats played on turned over buckets pulse through the streets, the smell of street food fills the air, and an array of people explore the funky shops. On the contrary, on the streets of Virginia Highlands there is certain stillness. Other than the sound of cars zooming by, the area has peacefulness to it. The restaurants are more uniform and so are the people. Surrounding the shops and restaurants are suburban homes with front porch swings and minivans. These two areas are in close proximity, but differ greatly. The built environments of Little Five Points and Virginia Highlands shape and are shaped by different groups of people due to differences in the historical foundation of the spaces, the layout of the streets, and the location of these neighborhoods in proximity to other influential spaces in Atlanta.


Historical Foundation

An area’s historical background influences how the built environment of that space develops as time goes on. Since the late 1960’s Little Five Points has been known for its odd knick-knack shops, antiques, and discount clothing (Wheatley). Even back then people knew they could go to Little Five Points to save money on movie theaters, clothing, and other goods. It is interesting to see how that trend has stayed with and developed the area over the last fifty years. Because the neighborhood’s roots are deep into the eclectic culture of city living and freedom of expression, the area has not developed into anything more than just that. Because the area has been “known for” a certain type of merchandise and culture, this image has shaped the built environment a great deal and stayed with the space for many years.

As for Virginia-Highlands, the area has been family-oriented and more upscale than Little Five Points since the 1960’s (Virginia-Highland Civic Assn.). Young professionals and families began moving into the area and renovating old homes and utilitarian storefronts into boutiques and restaurants. The area transformed into a city-walk with a suburban feel, well equipped with parks and excellent schools. What really drew the community in close was the announcement that a major highway, I-485, would run right through the beautiful neighborhood, disrupting what the community had created and destroying hundreds of homes. A group of civilians decided to fight back and formed the Virginia-Highland Civic Association; the group was successful in putting a stop to the highway plans. Even fifty years ago, Little Five Points and Virginia-Highlands began to differ in community, which in turn transformed both neighborhoods into unique areas.


Neighborhood Layout

The layout of both neighborhoods is different in many ways, but each serves a purpose for the built environment and caters to the community. In Little Five Points, there is one large communal area in the center of the neighborhood, known as Findley Plaza. All the restaurants and shops surround the large area, which is equipped with benches, trees, and always filled with street musicians. Compared to Virginia-Highlands, Little Five Points is smaller and although there are residential homes, they are not really included in to the main retail area of the space. This can be seen from the photograph shown below: the communal area allows for a “hang out” spot for those strolling around the area, while the homes are located in a different part of the neighborhood.


This type of built environment accommodates a younger, more social crowd. The central area provides groups a space to spread out and socialize. This spot is always a meeting place in Little Five Points. There are friends embracing and then going on their way to explore to remainder of the eclectic neighborhood, street musicians jamming on various instruments, and pedestrians walking their dogs. Branching off from Findley Plaza is the main street where all the funky shops and restaurants reside. Below is a screenshot of a map of Little Five Points that shows how Findley Plaza is the common area within the retail area of Little Five Points.

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The layout of the built environment in Virginia-Highlands differs greatly from that of Little Five Points. The major retail strips are directly across from the residential areas. This aspect of the layout shows how the area is more family-oriented, which is why the retail area is more reserved and quiet. When I visited Virginia-Highlands for my exterior built environment description I noticed that the aural characteristics of the space were very quiet; here is one of my sound recordings. Out on the street the only noises to be heard were cars passing by and an occasional dog barking. There are no street musicians, loud chatter, or boisterous music filling the air in Virginia-Highlands.

There is a certain calm in this area during the day, which I think has to do with the layout of the neighborhood. The residential area surrounding the shops is one reason why the area is much more composed; another reason for this is the parks located in Virginia-Highlands. In one of the major retail spots, North Highland Park is across the street from the retail area. Parks take away from the hustle and bustle of the city and influence the area in a positive way. A screenshot of the park mentioned is pictured below, which shows how it is surrounded by shops and homes.

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Influential Surrounding Areas

The areas that surround a neighborhood influence the type of community that settles there and overall help shape the built environment. The neighborhoods surrounding Virginia-Highlands are Midtown, Druid Hills, and Ansley Park, which are all upper to middle class areas. The areas surrounding Little Five Points include Old Fourth Ward, Edgewood, and Downtown, all of which consist of a middle to lower class population and vary more racially. One major influence of an area’s built environment is household income. The average household income changes drastically when going from Little Five Points to Virginia-Highlands. For instance, the average income in Little Five Points ranges from $66,000 to $76,000. Whereas in Virginia-Highlands this span is more like $109,000 to $128,000 (Income Map). With the income being almost double this, the Virginia-Highlands draws in a more family oriented, upscale community. This may just sound like a matter of real estate, but household income trickles down to the types of shops and restaurants built in the area, the upkeep of the streets and sidewalks, and the type of community that settles in that particular built environment. As for Little Five Points, the neighborhood has a significantly lower household income and this can be seen by observing the built environment. The used goods, vintage apparel shops, and thrifty stores are an indicator of a whole different community that has taken root. For instance, the new designer shops in Buckhead that were just built would not be seen in an area like Little Five Points. These shops would quickly go out of business because the type of clientele that they cater to does not reside in Little Five. The retail district of a neighborhood adapts to the type of people that reside there, and overall their income as well.



























Works Cited

Thomas Wheatley. “How Did Little Five Points Get Weird?” Newspaper. Creative Loafing Atlanta. Accessed April 19, 2016.

Virginia-Highland CivicAssn. Virginia-Highland: A Rich History, 2012.

Rachel Hegner. “Annotated Bibliographies 1,2, and 3.” Blog. RHEGNER1’s Blog, February 6, 2016.

“Atlanta, Georgia (GA) Income Map, Earnings Map, and Wages Data.” City Data. Accessed April 26, 2016.


Digital Built Environment Description: Living Walls

Living Walls is a non-profit organization in Atlanta that strives to educate Atlantans about public space and widen perspectives through street art. The organization was founded in 2010 and not only showcases art, but also uses it to change the built environment for the better by jazzing up the city walls with color and life. Living Walls hosts an international conference every year in Atlanta that brings in twenty artists form around the world. During the conference, each artist produces their own wall, providing the city with diverse street art. Below is a video from Youtube that provides more information about the artists and how the Living Walls organization has impacted them and the city of Atlanta.

The Living Walls digital space is set up rather simply. The homepage consists of three photographs that rotate as the background, the organization’s logo, and several tabs that link to different parts of the site: About, The Artists, Walls, Sponsors, Contact, Store, and Donate. By exploring these tabs viewers can learn about the organization’s goals and concepts, the artists and their origins, where the walls are located, who sponsors them, and information on how to donate. The store tab is currently under construction, so I was not able to delve into that part of the site. Each one of these tabs is clean cut and gives a short summary of information. I found the “Walls” tab and “The Artists” tab to be the most interesting. The “Walls” tab displays an interactive map showing where each wall is located, the address, and a link to the artist’s profile. “The Artists” tab shows a list of all ninety-five artists, where they are from, photographs of their street art in Atlanta, and some even have a short bio. No matter what part of this digital space you are exploring, each page is filled with color. The array of color used throughout the site makes it fun to dig deeper into the world of Living Walls.

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The Living Walls digital space advertises itself in a simple and non-invasive way. In the top right corner of the site, logos of five different social media companies are displayed. Clicking on each of these brings you to the Living Walls page for that social media site, such a their Facebook or Instagram pages. This allows viewers to easily access and follow Living Walls on social media. Also, a “Share” button in the bottom right corner of the site provides an opportunity for people to share the Living Walls link on their own social media accounts. This type of marketing tells a lot about what type of audience the non-profit organization is targeting: millennials or others who are actively on social media. Those who are most likely to use this site are artists, Atlantans looking to get involved in the community, young adults/students, and possible sponsors who are looking to donate. Lastly, this site made me feel welcome and sparked my curiosity about Living Walls and I plan to visit some of the murals in the near future.



Digital: Living Walls Digital Recording #4

This is the homepage for the Living Walls website. Being the first thing that viewers see when entering this digital space, the page is quite simple and pleasing to the eye. The photograph shows a beautiful shot of Atlanta and to the bottom left a multi-colored Living Wall can be seen. At the top of the page, the organization’s simple logo is present, along with seven headings that lead to other parts of the site. Above those headings are logos of different social media sites, which link to the Living Walls pages for Facebook, Instagram, and so on.

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Annotated Bibliographies Final 1-10

Annotated Bibliography #1
“Homepage.” Virginia-Highland Civic Association. Accessed April 4, 2016.

This website reports on all things Virginia-Highland. Everything from volunteer opportunities to the preservation and history of the area are easily accessible from this webpage. The information I obtained furthered my knowledge of the area greatly. Scans of some of the original historic maps of Virginia Highlands, some as early as 1871, show how the area has transformed over time.  The maps show the slow but steady increase in industrialization and development of the area, thus showing in detail how the built environment was formed. The site lists all the parks, which is important in shaping the area’s built environment, and where they are located. This site provides an array of information and is kept by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, making it a reliable and useful source. Although this association provides more information on the area than any other site, the source could possibly be biased. Because the association only considers one view, details about the area’s history and current status may be left out. Overall, this source provides a bulk of information to further the viewer’s knowledge about Virginia-Highlands and built environment within the area’s borders.


Annotated Bibliography #2

Virginia-Highland CivicAssn. Virginia-Highland: A Rich History, 2012.

The short film goes deep into the history of Virginia-Highlands, going back to the first settlers of the area, which were Creek Indians. The community was agrarian based, but most of that was ruined after the Civil War. Most families had to rebuild their lives, due to the many battles fought during the war. As the town was rebuilt, trolley lines were built, which connected Virginia-Highlands to other surrounding Atlanta burrows and made travel more accessible. This video mentions multiple pieces of important information about the built environment that cannot easily be found on the webpage. This source is very informative and addresses several different controversial events that the webpage does not, such as the land lottery only offering land to free white males and the different opinions about the widening of I-485. The widening of the highway was controversial because it would have obliterated parks and hundreds of homes. Thus, citizens began taking a stand against it and formed the Virginia Civic Association to combat the highway widening. This short film provides a lot of vital information about the architecture and development of Virginia-Highlands and furthered my understanding of how the area came to be what it is today.


Annotated Bibliography #3

Robert Craig. “Late Victorian Architecture: Overview.” Encyclopedia. New Georgia Encyclopedia, September 30, 2006.

This encyclopedia article provides insight to how architecture in Virginia-Highlands was created and where the inspiration was drawn from. Gustav Stickley and his magazine, The Craftsman, inspired the Craftsmen bungalow. This style of home, which still fills the streets of Virginia-Highlands today, incorporates exposed wood, front porch columns, and shingle siding. Craig mentions how this type of architecture symbolizes freedom and character, which are popular democratic morals for Americans. More specific information on where the inspiration for the built environment came from is found in this article, whereas the short film and webpage do not do so. This article provides direct evidence on how and why the homes in Virginia-Highlands look the way they do. This source varies from the others in that it focuses mostly on architecture rather than historical and present events in the area.


Annotated Bibliography #4

Shepard, Andrew. “Criminal Records | Little Five Points.” Little Five Points, May 25, 2010.

This article, written by Andrew Shepard, informs readers about the ins and outs of Criminal Records: the ambiance, the types of products sold, and the uniqueness of the shop. Criminal Records is the only record shop remaining in Atlanta, which contributes to the built environment of the city quite a bit. Because this shop is one of a kind it has formed its own community and provides customers with something no other shop within the city can. The article was posted on the Little Five Points, the burrow of Atlanta where Criminal Records is located, website. Because of this, there is some bias to what Shepard writes. He only mentions the positives of Criminal Records, how friendly the staff is, the reasonable prices, and the extensive collection of albums, comics, and other knick-knacks. Overall, this source provides useful information about Criminal Records and gives readers insight on what to expect when visiting the shop.criminal_records


Annotated Bibliography #5

Nessy, Messy. “Documenting the Disappearing Record Stores of Paris.” Blog. MESSYNESSY Chic, August 14, 2015.

The author of this article, who goes by the penname Messy Nessy, writes about the history and unfortunate disappearance of record shops in Paris, France. The record store is a dying breed in today’s world. The streets of Paris used to be filled with these shops that held decades of musical history within their walls. Nessy writes of the slow drop off of some of Paris’ most well known record dealers. Thomas Henry’s website, Disquaries de Paris, documents the disappearance of these shops in an interesting way. This is the website from which Nessy gets most of her information. What sparks the reader’s attention is the way Nessy displays a side-by-side comparison of photos of the old record shop storefronts and what replaces the shops in modern day Paris. I chose this source because it is specific in mentioning how sparse record stores have become and pays tribute to the rich history they provided. I would not necessarily say this

source has bias, Nessy is definitely appreciative of music, but that is not cause for bias. As said in my fourth annotation, Criminal Records is the last record shop in Atlanta. This blog post supports that in explaining how these shops have fallen off the grid in the past decades. This post provides great insight into the record industry and incorporates some great photography as well.


Annotated Bibliography #6


“City Cafe: History of Little Five Points.” Atlanta’s NPR Station. Little Five Points: 90.1 FM WABE. Accessed February 26, 2016.

This radio broadcast illustrates the fruitful history of Little Five Points; it is not just a “hippie” burrow of Atlanta, but a site with rich background that has shaped the built environment of the city. The author of a recent book about the area, “The Highs and Lows of Little Five: A History of Little Five Points”, spoke during the broadcast. Author, Robert Hartle Jr., spoke to the NPR host in the center of Little Five Points. He explains the evolution of the area, in that it thrived during the Great Depression, but began to sink during the 1950’s when schools integrated. Listeners can hear as Hartle points out landmarks, like the Corner Tavern, and elaborates on their history. The tavern was not just a place to drink and mingle, but also a meeting place where the community gathered and held discussions. The area is so much more than it looks, he explains, and has vast history for such a small burrow of the city. This broadcast provides an aural source for people to learn more about Little Five Points. There may be some bias because the author has written a book about the area, so he is clearly passionate about it. Hartle only mentions the upside to Little Five Points. Generally, this source fits in well with my other sources and provided me with new facts about the site.


Annotated Bibliography #7

Board, Editorial. “Atlanta’s Diversity Is Cause for Envy.” Magazine. Creative Loafing Atlanta, December 22, 2010.

In Creative Loafing’s article, Atlanta’s Diversity Is Cause for Envy, the Editorial Board enlightens readers on the noteworthy integration of Atlanta compared to other U.S. cities. In the year 2000 an unseen line existed along I-20 that seprated the “black” and “white” Atlanta.


Since then the line has significantly dissipated due to the integration of these two neighborhoods along with outsiders from various backgrounds moving in. This will help Atlanta move in the right direction and maybe set an example of post-racial equality for other cities around the country. This article helped me to better understand how racial integration in Atlanta is at a steady growth rate, which in turn shapes the built environment. Before reading this I was unaware that the I-20 ‘line’ was so severe. I chose this source because it offers information that none of my other sources have thus far. This article showed me a different side to the built environment and that other factors besides architecture have impact on shaping it.


Annotated Bibliography #8

Lisa Mowry. “Virginia-Highland Abode.” Magazine. Atlanta Magazine, Spring 2011.

In this magazine article for Atlanta Magazine, Lisa Mowry goes into detail about local Atlantan, David Scrulock’s, humble abode tucked away in the Virginia-Highlands. The article describes how three talented individuals, an interior designer, a contractor, and an architect, transform the 1920’s Craftsman bungalow into a cozy, modern home that still recognizes its Craftsmen roots.  The home is equipped with an outdoor space, a two-story add on in the back, and a backyard pool. Scurlock describes the home’s side porch as, “the perfect place for a Southern porch party”. The kitchen has a touch of Craftsman magic with natural wood and earthy colors. This all being said, along with the lovely photos displayed within the article, this home is clean, natural looking, and suburban. This article furthered my knowledge of the Craftsman bungalow architecture, which is mentioned in a few of my previous sources, and the overall mood and built environment of the Virginia Highlands. The Virginia-Highlands are not only urban, but also suburban and with homes like these I can see why it a sought after spot to settle down. I did not find this source to be bias; I think the author did a great job of describing the home and how the team chose to remodel it.


Annotated Bibliography #9

“Microsoft Word – L5P_ECA.doc – Little Five Points Commercial District.pdf.” Accessed April 1, 2016.
This report by the Environmental Corporation of America informs readers of the developmental history of the Little Five Points Commercial District in Atlanta. The area is a great example of the city’s growth and expansion. The built environment of Little Five Points suggests that it has historical ties to what Atlanta used to be, which evolved from farmland, to Victorian estates, to what it is today. The eclectic space reminds city dwellers of the evolution of the city. The maps throughout the report were very helpful in mapping out where Little Five Points is located in relation to parks and other parts of the city. One of the maps, within the trace outline of Little Five Points, color codes what structures are residential, commercial, public, or vacant. These maps alone tell me a lot about the built environment of Little Five Points. The extensive report goes into a detailed evolution of the Little Five Points commercial district and I think this would be a great asset to the research for my final project. I chose this article because it is solely focused on Little Five Points and is more detailed than other sources I have found about the area.
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Annotated Bibliography #10
Discover Atlanta. Atlanta’s Diverse Neighborhoods. Atlanta, GA, 2012.

This informative video by Discover Atlanta shows viewers the different hubs in the city of Atlanta. The video mentions and shows popular attractions around the city: Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, the Georgia Dome, and The High Museum of Art. The neighborhoods that the video describes each have their own look and description, which differentiates them, but also allows the viewer to see that all the areas flow together and connect rather than being secluded from one another. This source is relevant to my built environment analysis because it directly compares Little Five Points to Virginia Highlands. Little Five Points is mentioned first as being “edgy and quirky”. Right after the video describes that, it switches over to filming the Virginia-Highlands with the segue, “If you’re a little more clean cut, follow North Highland the Virginia-Highlands”. This source will also be helpful for my analysis because it conveys information through film, which is something only one of my other sources provides. I think this source could potentially have some bias due to the fact that it is only briefly highlighting the parts of Atlanta, so it only focuses on the positive aspects of each neighborhood.

Interior Built Environment Description

criminal records

Criminal Records is located off Euclid Avenue in Little Five Points. This Atlanta gem is not what it sounds like; the shop is not a boring office building that stores files on convicts. It is actually one of the only record shops left in the city, and in some people’s opinion, the one with the widest variety of products. Criminal Records sells an array of things: albums, CD’s, cassette tapes, books, comic books, posters, clothing, knick-knacks, and the list goes on. Not only is there so much to choose from, but also the space sets a certain mood that makes you want to spend hours searching.

The structure of the space is set up similar to a maze. When entering the store the first thing that meets the eye are the rows and rows of albums and CD’s. Going down each aisle is like entering a new section of the maze, each one is different. The products are stored on shelves, in bins, boxes, and crates. So much musical history in one room, this shop is definitely an easy one to get “lost” in.

Although this shop is a labyrinth of music and culture, the area is actually very spacious. It does not feel closed in or small. The aisles provide pathways to the back of the shop and it is easy to maneuver around. The lighting and colors have a lot to do with the mood of the store. Many of the walls are painted a pastel green color and the lighting is soft, which has to do with the large skylight windows located on the ceiling of the space. The ceiling of the shop is constructed out of beams of wood, which gives the space a homey feel. The shop is definitely catered to customers with an eclectic style, which matches the trend in Little Five Points. The walls are filled with funky art and posters of all different colors. The floor of the space is dirty, unfinished concrete. The store advertises its use with its bold sign, its hip window displays, and location. Music/art lovers and curious passerbys mostly visit the shop.

Overall, Criminal Records made me feel welcome and sparked my curiosity. I am a huge oldies fan so flipping through the albums of Queen, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones brought me joy and made me almost buy one! The space is filled with repetition, colors, and the aural sounds of albums being flipped through and alternative rock songs over the loud speakers. This site has an urban feel and will definitely broaden any visitor’s knowledge of art and music if they dig deep enough.

Interior: Criminal Records Digital Recording #5

In this recording, several different sounds can be heard. The first is the sound of CD cases hitting each other as they are flipped back and forth inside the bin that holds them. This is an iconic sound inside a record shop. Customers explore all the different album covers, artists, genres, and songs by flipping back and forth between them. The second sound is the soft alternative rock playing in the background. During my time spent at Criminal Records the music playing over the speakers stayed consistent in theme and set the mood for the space.

Interior: Criminal Records Digital Recording #4


This is a photo of some signage I came across at the very back of the Criminal Records shop. These signs describe different genres of music, which are definitely sold in the shop, along with countless others. The miniature record stickers on the wall behind the signs make the area fun and colorful. Underneath the signs are, of course, more records stacked in bins.

Interior: Criminal Records Digital Recording #3


This is a video I recorded while inside Criminal Records. At the beginning of the video it shows how many CD’s and albums are stacked on the shelves, and that’s just one aisle. Then, the camera pans around the room showing the entryway, the walls, lighting, and the back of the store. The lighting is somber and the store actually has several skylight windows in the ceiling, which provide natural light. Also in the video, a calm indie tune can be heard in the background, which matches the mood of Criminal Records and Little Five Points both.

Interior: Criminal Records Digital Record #2


I think this photo really captures the essence of Criminal Records. Not only does it show the layout of the store, but it also shows how decorative and colorful the space is. Aisles and aisles of records consume much of the space; music posters and framed albums decorate the walls. Some would call the shop cluttered, but I think it adds to the ambiance. There is so much to explore within a fairly small space, I can see why customers get lost for hours.

Interior: Criminal Records Digital Recording #1


This is a photo I took of the Criminal Records sign that can be found in the back of the store. The sign is made of tin and although it is hard to tell from the picture, it is quite large. This sign shows the shop’s iconic logo. Underneath it are wooden bins holding records, which is how these artifacts are arranged all over the store. The wall behind the sign is a light green color, which is a repeating theme throughout the shop. This color, in my opinion, gave the store a calm feel, but still spiced up the space with some color.