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Stories of Atlanta

Not really a good idea

It is a common occurrence for cities to change the name of streets and Atlanta is no exception to that rule. 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. Most name changes go without much notice, unless there are enough people opposed to the change that it becomes a public issue, in which case, public opinion often influences the decision.

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, from our 21st century vantage point, 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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