For Underground Atlanta the beginning was almost the end

Looking at photographs of downtown Atlanta in the late 1800’s one cannot help but be impressed with the number of railroad tracks that populated the area we now call The Gulch. By some accounts, at the height of Atlanta’s railroad history there were over 350 trains a day that traveled through the city

Atlanta was indeed a “railroad town.” But for pedestrians and horse drawn carts, all those railroad tracks that meant so much to the economy and the growth of Atlanta presented major challenges for transportation around the city.

It never returned

When the 1895 Cotton States Exposition opened in Atlanta 120 years ago as of this writing, it represented the culmination of years of planning and fund raising on the part of the exposition’s organizers. It was a big time undertaking costing over $2 million dollars, which, by today’s currency standards, equates to around $57 million […]

How to get the word out

Consider the question of fire in the early days of Atlanta.

How would anybody who wasn’t immediately affected by the fire know that there actually was a fire? I’m not talking about the “big” fire that resulted from Sherman’s occupation but the everyday, commonplace fires that were all too frequent in a city built largely of wood, a city where cooking and heating were done with fire. A city where passing trains frequently generated sparks that often landed on the rooftops of buildings.

A familiar statue

Samuel Spencer was killed at the age of 59. The accident that took his life happened in the predawn hours of Thanksgiving Day in 1906. Spencer and some of his friends were in Spencer’s private rail car headed for a hunting trip in Virginia. While Spencer and his fellow passengers were asleep, his railcar became […]

They came from far and wide

Last year (2016), the City of Atlanta booked somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 conventions, meetings and events, which drew around 52 million visitors to our city. Atlanta is most definitely a major player in the world of event planning and, if you think about it, it is a role that the City of Atlanta comes by quite naturally. Hospitality is deeply ingrained as a part of Atlanta’s culture.

Unknown stories of everyday people

At the intersection of Memorial Drive and Boulevard sits Oakland Cemetery, the City of Atlanta’s first official burial grounds.  Established in 1850 on an original six acres of land, Oakland now spans 88 acres and is home to thousands of residents.  Among them are names familiar to most generations of Atlantans, a “who’s who” of […]

Thanks to him…we know

Much of our knowledge of Civil War Atlanta comes from the work of the official photographer of the Army of the Mississippi, George Barnard. Assigned to document military camps, fortifications and rail lines, Barnard followed General William Sherman and his troops on their infamous March to the Sea. In the process of completing his assigned […]

Defying convention

May Irwin was a 19th century actress who starred – with John Rice – in an 1896 short film titled The Kiss. Chances are you are not familiar with The Kiss – or Ms. Irwin or Mr. Rice – but the film’s title holds a special place in movie history as do its actors. Today, […]

The going up part…easy

For a species born without wings, we sure have spent a great deal of time trying to learn to fly. The desire to fly is probably as much a part of being human as is the fear of falling. Go figure that one out. This week we examine an event that took place in Atlanta […]

From Prussia to Peachtree

When the Civil War ended in 1865, life, as you can imagine, did not just magically return to normal. There was no “normal.” Chaos was the order of the day and the State of Georgia had been particularly hard hit. Its politics was scattered, the economy was in shambles and in June of 1865 the […]

We all knew it wasn’t right

In his epic work “The Souls of Black Folk,” WEB DuBois seems to describe the City of Atlanta in terms that separate Atlanta from what is generally considered to be a traditional Southern city. “South of North, yet north of South lies the city of a hundred hills…” he writes. The image of Atlanta as […]

A name we should know

The name Martin Amorous is not one that most Atlantans associate with the development of the City of Atlanta but that doesn’t diminish his contribution to the well-being of our city, not in the least.

Martin Amorous was born in Savannah, in 1858. His father , Mathias Amorous, was a proud Spaniard from Barcelona who captained a merchantman sailing vessel and he made frequent trips to the Americas.

The woman who wasn’t there

It is safe to say that the era of the grand department store is a thing of the past. It was wonderful while it lasted but, as they say, nothing lasts forever. It was the department store that helped to lead the way into the salad days of the post WWII boom and then went on to anchor the explosion of shopping malls that populated just about every suburb in America.

It’s apparently a small world after all

Grady Hospital first opened its doors in 1892 with 14 rooms and the mission to offer the best hospital care possible regardless of a person’s social status. Since opening its doors, thousands of people from all walks of life have turned to Grady to receive care and comfort in their hour of need. Over the years, the hospital has gained an excellent international reputation as a public hospital and it has grown to become the largest hospital in the State of Georgia, public or private.

Ben Walker sells the farm

That almost everything was something else before it became what it is today is hardly news to anyone. Knowing that fact, however, does not make the observation of the evolution of a city any less fascinating. Such is the case with the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta. At its heart, this story is […]

Would his mother be proud?

Cities always like to put their best foot forward. Atlanta is no exception. There is a long history in “The City Too Busy To Hate” of boosterism. Some might even say Atlantans have been guilty of going overboard when touting the city’s achievements and capabilities. On occasion, that may have been true but, then again, […]

A busy store on a busy corner

Our intent this week was to talk about Atlanta and her visitors. Any city that attains any sort of momentum attracts interesting visitors…some famous, some not so much. But with every visitor comes a story and this week we were going to tell a visitor story. A pretty good one too. Kind of a Day the Earth Stood Still thriller, only, not the whole earth, just a little corner in Georgia. Anyway, that was all before we discovered Miss Fluffy Raffles.

Fluffy is not a name one just skips past without pausing to at least express, “What the heck?” And to no one’s surprise, there is a bit of a story attached with Miss Raffles. On the surface, it’s a story of a playful woman who for almost two weeks tweaked the collective noses of an entire city and became front-page news in the process.

The Stories continue

With the posting of this story…scratch that…with the release of this shameless, self-congratulatory, video attempt at associating the Stories of Atlanta brand with long-cherished American ideals such as freedom of speech and the right to assembly…we’d like to acknowledge the start of the 3rd season of the Stories of Atlanta. Last week marked the end […]

His request has been honored

Even Atlanta, with it comparatively young history, is not without its colorful characters. And one of Atlanta’s more interesting individuals was Jasper Newton Smith. Smith was an Atlanta businessman during the city’s reconstruction days. He owned a business at what is today the intersection of Peachtree and 14th Streets.

Jasper Smith, or Jack as he was known, was a brick maker and you can imagine that, at a time when Atlanta was rebuilding from the devastation of the Civil War, a guy who made bricks was in high demand. High enough demand to make Jack Smith wealthy. By some accounts, Smith’s company produced somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million bricks.

The House on Marietta Street

Most people, when giving a tour of the City of Atlanta to friends or family, usually find themselves starting more than one sentence with the phrase, “On this spot…” It’s pretty much a necessity in Atlanta to point out what was in a location because, as almost everyone knows, Atlanta has never been particularly sentimental […]