By Maria Saporta
Too many Peachtrees?
So thinks my friend George Vecsey, the famed sports writer and columnist who took a buyout from the New York Times in December.
Vecsey, who now has his own website — www.georgevecesy.com, was in Atlanta over the weekend visiting family when he “squandered an hour or two of my life trying to solve the maze of streets named Peachtree in the northern Atlanta suburbs.”
For Vecesey, he can’t understand why there are more than 70 streets in metro Atlanta with Peachtree in their name. He makes a valid case in his “How Baseball Could Solve a Terrible Problem” post.
“This suggests a staggering failure of imagination, if all the planners of the New South cannot do better than slap the name Peachtree on bisecting boulevards,” Vecsey said.
So Vecsey, who lives for the drama of life that surrounds sports (such as writing the “Sports of the Times” column for his former employer as well as numerous sports-related books), has a solution — to rename Atlanta’s Peachtrees after the great baseball players who played with the Atlanta Braves.
Renaming streets in Atlanta is a sensitive topic. Although we have lots of Peachtrees, we also have a bad habit of renaming streets so often that we confuse even the natives.
Few people realize how racially polarizing the changing of street names have been in Atlanta.
Back when the population of the city was changing — as whites began migrating to the intown northern neighborhoods and moving away from southern areas of the city that were populated by African-Americans, the names of streets were changed so that whites wouldn’t have to have the same street address as blacks.
That’s why Jackson Street becomes Parkway at Ralph McGill Boulevard and why Parkway Drive becomes Charles Allen Drive at Ponce de Leon Avenue. And that’s why Boulevard becomes Monroe Drive at Ponce de Leon.
Then take streets like Ralph McGill. It used to be named Forrest Avenue after the first Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan — Nathan Bedford Forrest. Wikipedia has compiled a list of various street name changes in Atlanta for those who want to explore that part of the city’s history.
Any way, I wish Vecsey well in his newest cause to rename some of our Peachtrees. That way we can continue confusing our residents and our visitors for years to come.