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Stories of Atlanta

The end was the 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 Atlanta. All of us are interested in the exotic and the unusual. There wouldn’t be zoos if we didn’t want to see animals. But to go beyond just a bear on a leash requires much more of an investment. It isn’t easy to travel and display large animals.

The showmen and entrepreneurs who, in the early days, ventured into the menagerie business quickly learned that they were much better off if they could attract a broader audience by adding more than just animals to their traveling troupe.

But even the addition of audience pleasing acts didn’t guarantee success, as one such troupe discovered when they went bankrupt on the outskirts of Atlanta in 1889. Their loss turned into Atlanta’s gain and it also became 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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