This week on Stories of Atlanta, we look back at a part of Atlanta’s history to which most of us never give much thought. Though we may live in a City of Atlanta neighborhood, chances are pretty good that few of us have spent much time wondering about the origins of the name of our neighborhood, let alone, the neighborhoods in which others live.

To be sure, some neighborhood names are not that hard to figure out. Riverside, Bakers Ferry, Capitol View, Chattahoochee and Poncey-Highland are a few that come to mind. A lot of neighborhood names end with Park, Hills, Valley or Heights, and others derive their names from former Atlantans; Collier Hills, English Avenue, Scotts Crossing, Laurens Valley and Randall Mill.

No matter the size, the age, or the type of name a neighborhood has, all of Atlanta’s neighborhoods share one commonality. They all belong to a Neighborhood Planning Unit or an NPU. Atlanta’s NPU system is relatively new. It was established in 1974 by Mayor Maynard Jackson and all of the City’s 242 neighborhoods are grouped into one of 25 NPUs. The purpose of a Neighborhood Planning Unit is to ensure that residents of a neighborhood have a voice in the affairs of their neighborhood. More information about Atlanta‘s Neighborhood Planning Units can be found on the City’s planning website.

It might surprise you to learn that some of the places we think of as Atlanta neighborhoods aren’t technically neighborhoods. In broad terms, to be officially designated as a neighborhood, an area must have a defined border and be represented by a group of those living within the neighborhood who work to beautify, plan for and preserve the neighborhood, for example a neighborhood planning organization.

Atlanta’s neighborhoods are as diverse as Atlantans themselves and, in large part, Atlanta’s culture is driven by its neighborhoods. As you might imagine, with over 240 neighborhoods in the City, one or two are bound to have a story and that is why Atlanta’s neighborhoods is the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

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Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to...

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