What does the history of Atlanta have to do with real estate? More than you may think. The growth of a town from the city center out has a pattern; as does its decline and then subsequent revitalization. Let’s look at a few little known facts about our fair city.
When the Western and Atlantic Railroad was approved in 1836 there was no town. The land that we now know as Atlanta was home to the Creek and Cherokee tribes. The Whitehall Tavern was an outpost for riders along the stagecoach road, in what is now the West End. A settlement was started in 1839 as construction of the railroad reached north. It was referred to unofficially as Terminus, because it literally was the end of the line. The villagers chose to incorporate the town in 1842 as Lumpkinville, in honor of Governor Wilson Lumpkin. He asked that they name it Marthasville instead, in honor of his daughter.
So where did the name Atlanta come from? You may think that corporate names on stadiums and ball parks is a new idea. Nope. Our whole town was basically corporate branding. The head of the railroad suggested the town be renamed Atlantica- Pacifica (a female version of Atlantic- Pacific). The residents approved and it was shortened to Atlanta and incorporated in 1847.
Have you wondered how Atlanta ended up with four major interstates crossing through downtown? It started with the railroad. By 1860, Atlanta’s population had grown to nearly 10,000 people with four major railroad lines crossing through it. Atlanta was the gateway to the west. (More to come on this in future blog posts.) Transportation has always ruled this town. It is no wonder we also have the world’s busiest airport.
Atlanta is also famous for being burned to the ground during the American Civil War. Even though the recorded population was still near 10,000, it is believed there were actually more than 20,000 people in the city when Sherman’s March to the Sea arrived. The hospitals in the city were receiving wounded from all over the south, as well as the African American slave population not being widely recorded. The Battle of Atlanta began outside the city in what is now the neighborhood of Kirkwood.
There are very few homes from this time period still standing in Atlanta in their original locations. The Lemuel P. Grant mansion in Grant Park is now the home to the Atlanta Preservation Center. Circa 1856. This home was saved from demolition first by author Margaret Mitchell and then by the Atlanta Preservation Center. It is also the birth home of golfing legend Bobby Jones.
Meadow Nook, also built in 1856, is located in the East Lake neighborhood. Driving by the home today, it looks like it is facing the wrong direction. This is because the road it was originally built on ran north to south. This was re-routed when the East Lake Golf Club was constructed. The new road, Alston Ave, was named after the family who built the home, Lt Col Robert Augustus and Mary Charlotte Alston.
In our next historical real estate post, we will look at Reconstruction and how many of the neighborhoods that still exist today were developed.