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It was an actual proposal

It is a common occurrence for cities to change the name of streets and Atlanta is no exception to that practice. With the passage of time, the old street names mean less to the newer generations than to previous generations and there is a natural desire to want to honor the contributions of more contemporary individuals. Street name changes are, more or less, accepted until somebody wants to change the name of a street that someone else thinks shouldn’t be changed. Then, public opinion usually rules the day.

Over the years Atlanta has seen a number of streets get new names. Many of the city’s thoroughfares named after Confederate soldiers have been replaced. Forrest Avenue became Ralph McGill Boulevard. Gordon Street became Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. And then there was Stewart Avenue, a street who’s reputation became so tainted that somebody figured we’d better start calling it Metropolitan Parkway. Hardy Ivy, the first white settler of European descent in the area that is now the city limits of Atlanta, lost his street. It became Peachtree Center Avenue, presumedly because one can never have enough Peachtree streets. And famously, Auburn Avenue got its name because somebody felt that Wheat Street just wasn’t cosmopolitan enough.

The practice of changing a street’s name is certainly not one that is new, it has been going on for decades, maybe longer. In fact, there was a proposal brought before Atlanta’s city council in 1909 that, to us, seemed so ridiculously illogical that we just had to make it the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

Lance Russell

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 the heart of the matter, Lance’s instincts are tailor-made for today’s “media bite” culture. Brief, poignant and always entertaining, Lance’s current passion is bringing Atlanta’s colorful and inspiring past to life with his “rest of the story” style video series, Stories of Atlanta. “History’s best communicators,” says Lance, “have always been storytellers. It’s in our DNA. ‘Once upon a time’ is how we got to where we are now.”

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4 Comments

  1. Chad Carlson December 16, 2015 12:39 pm

    I am reading From Peachtree to Sweet Auburn and I have totally lost reference when they mention various streets downtown because all the names have been changed!Report

    Reply
  2. W Lance Russell December 16, 2015 4:34 pm

    That’s a great read Chad, I hope you’re enjoying it. I feel you pain on the street names, quite the challenge. If you haven’t already, check out this Wikipedia entry for a list of former Atlanta street names https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_former_Atlanta_street_namesReport

    Reply
  3. junehodges December 22, 2015 10:58 am

    Count me in as another Atlantan who laments all of the street name changing that has occurred during the last few decades.Report

    Reply
  4. Burroughston Broch December 23, 2015 12:13 am

    Each generation brings a new crowd of people who demand their egos be flattered by naming streets after them. There are more egotists than new streets.Report

    Reply

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