Five Points has been the epicenter of downtown Atlanta for as long as there has been a downtown Atlanta. It derived its name having originally been the confluence of five different streets: Peachtree, Whitehall, Marietta, Decatur and Edgewood. The origin of the names for Marietta and Decatur is obvious given that those streets led to the cities of the same names. Edgewood Avenue, over the years, has had a number of different names, Line Street, Foster Street and Edgewood Avenue being the most recent.
Ironically, Edgewood never actually connected all the way to the community of Edgewood. The street had its beginnings with the Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railroad Company, organized in 1886 by Joel Hurt and a number of other prominent Atlantans. Hurt was in the process of developing a neighborhood he dubbed Inman Park and he saw the street car line as a way to add value to his subdivision.
Whitehall Street gets its name from an inn and stage coach stop operated by a man named Charner Humphries. Humphries’ business was located in what we now call West End and it became well known throughout the region by the fact that Humphries had painted the building white and locals began referring to it as The White Hall. The street running in front of his inn was named Whitehall Street and it ultimately joined four other streets to make up Five Points.
Peachtree Street has always been the most prestigious address of the five streets. So much so that, bowing to pressure from merchants along Whitehall Street, the city changed a section of Whitehall to Peachtree so that merchants could benefit from the recognizable name. Which explains why today reading the street signs along Five Points one only sees four streets.
A notable bit of trivia is the fact that at one time there was a water tower directly in the center of Five Points. The tower marked the location of an artisan well that, for a short time, served as Atlanta’s water supply. Of course, the tower has long since been removed from Five Points but that doesn’t mean that it has been forgotten as you will see in this week’s Stories of Atlanta.