Thicker than water

This week’s story comes to us from Saporta Report reader and all-around Atlanta history buff Greg Hodges who wrote to ask if we knew the story of Richard Petty’s 1959 victory at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway. We did not and it turns out that it is just our kind of story. Long-time Atlantans will remember the […]

As the Saying Goes. . .

There is a well-known joke, told at Atlanta’s expense, about how, even when traveling to the afterlife, you’ll need to make connections through Atlanta. It’s the sort of thing that comes with the territory when one manages the world’s most traveled airport. Given the amount of traffic that passes through Hartsfield-Jackson on a daily basis, […]

Not everyone shared his enthusiasm

James Litchfield Beavers is not a name that most Atlantans today are familiar with but back in his day James Beavers was “The Man”…literally. For 26 years, James Beavers was a member of Atlanta’s police force and from1911 to 1915 he was Atlanta’s “Top Cop,” the Chief of Police. In his almost three decades of […]

Some improvements were needed

Historically, the jail house has been among the first of the public buildings constructed in most new communities. It is interesting to note that, initially, jails were intended to be little more than holding cells…places to keep criminals until they could be tried. And that is exactly the purpose that led to the construction of […]

It was partly about style

Throughout history, some of the world’s most enduring companies have been the result of business partnerships.  Sometimes, the partnership brings renown to all of the partners, Procter and Gamble, Hewlett-Packard and Ben and Jerry come to mind. But not every partnership can be Rodgers and Hammerstein and, as they say, ‘Fair’ does not always mean ‘Equal’. […]

Nothing but women

South Carolina-born architect Geoffrey Lloyd Preacher headed the Atlanta architecture firm of G. Lloyd Preacher and Company.  In the first half of the twentieth century, Preacher was nothing if not prolific. Among his designs were some of Atlanta’s most iconic structures: Peachtree Street’s Grady Hotel, Bass High School near Little Five Points, and the current Atlanta City […]

The end was a beginning

There is a statue in Underground Atlanta of a man and a bear. The statue is representative of a section of Atlanta during its pioneer days, when confidence men, con artists, snake oil salesmen and animal acts were a common sight in our city. The display of wild animals was, of course, not unique to […]

A young boy’s inspiration

Since Atlanta’s early days, religion and spirituality have been key factor in the lives of many Atlantans. In some cases, the influence of religion spilled over into other aspects of the city’s development. One clear example of this is the case of Friendship Baptist Church and its founding minister, Reverend Frank Quarles. Today, Friendship holds […]

Downtown became more challenging

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  However, in true Henry Ford style, he did not ask for opinions and what we got was the “horseless carriage.” And the world has never been the same. Americans have long had a love affair with the […]

Atlanta from a different perspective

It is becoming increasingly difficult to get lost. In fact, with the exception of traversing the fringe regions of the planet, those areas without access to a cell signal, wi-fi or satellite reception, one has to work pretty darn hard to lose one’s way. For sure, you can get confused or disoriented…but lost? Thanks to digital everything, the solution to that problem is to simply go to The Google and find out where you are and how to get to where you want to be.

It was, as everyone knows, not always like that. Atlantans in the 19th century spent all of their days without any of the conveniences of even the 20th century, let alone the 21st. Back in the 1800s, you couldn’t just run down to the convince store and buy a map. And even if you could, most people didn’t because they rarely went anywhere.

It’s probably not what he had in mind

Atlanta’s history is intertwined with Atlanta’s religion. Houses of worship have not just been a presence in Atlanta, they have been one of the forces that helped shape and support our community.

This week, we tell the tale of Leonard Broughton who came to Atlanta to lead a church and ended up building one of Atlanta’s still-standing historical structures. Each year Broughton’s church hosts thousands of visitors of all denominations and beliefs. If you haven’t attended, there’s a good chance you have, at least, heard of Broughton’s church as you will see in this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

Seek and ye shall find, right?

The flood of movie stars visiting Atlanta in recent years not withstanding, Atlanta has had a long history of entertaining visiting luminaries, dignitaries, politicians and a host of other individuals who Atlantans generally wanted to be seen with.
The late 1800s was a banner year for visitors to the Gate City, not the least of whom was the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.

It’s all in how you deliver the message

They say that when you die, whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you have to go through Atlanta first. Though made popular by Atlanta’s very busy airport, that saying actually originated back in the day when Atlanta was a major railroad junction. At its peak, over 300 trains a day came and went through Atlanta and, for a while, it seemed that train travel was the wave of the future. That is until the Wright Brothers made their famous flight in 1903 and from that moment on, everything changed.

Of course, Atlantans didn’t embrace air travel overnight.

Worth a thousand words

In the fall of 1864, photographer George Barnard positioned his camera in the coupola of a woman’s school located on what is now Courtland Street. He took a series of three photographs that, when combined, show a panoramic view of Atlanta. A view that is remarkable for what it doesn’t show. A view, that is this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

A pressing need to learn about business

Reconstruction was the term given to the period following the Civil War during which the United States set conditions under which the rebellious Southern States would be allowed back into the Union. Coming out of Reconstruction, the City of Atlanta was experiencing growing pains but one of the more positive results of Atlanta’s emergence as an up and coming city was the founding of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Georgia Tech had been founded in 1885 as part of a plan to build a Southern industrial economy. At its inception, the only degree it offered was one in mechanical engineering but, in the decades to come, other engineering degrees were offered.

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 […]