upper
Marietta
Street
Artery
White Provision Building

TOP : 1998 - The east side of Foster Street with some exuberant Calderque sculptures by artist Alex Henderson of Blood Sweat and Steel and skyline buildings by Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates, John Portman, Roch & Dinkeloo, Philip Johnson, Michael Graves and many others.

BELOW : A lifeline connection with the arterial circulation of the railway is held by a parade of palatial industrial buildings generated between 1881 and 1941. Click on buildings, Civil War sites and boundary lines for a virtual view of a very interesting area of Atlanta. See Index for list of buildings; North is straight up; a yellow background on building page indicates the building is already researched and on the National Register of Historic Places; blue backgrounds indicate the building is not officially researched.

Look down the railroad tracks or at an aerial map and these colossal utilitarian temples of industry are obviously created with the same inspired spirit and human energies that were once marshaled into the Aztec and Mayan temples that seem to fervently cover Mexico. The Aztecs/Mayans were in worship and appeasement of their Sun and Moon gods for good crops (revenue) with the very same energetic gusto that the more scientifically enlightened Atlantans were building palaces of employment, manufacturing and profit.

Like everything in nature, when inspired by revenue streams, human organizational powers light up and up go the buildings to support the practical aspects. These late 19th-early 20th century building configurations, like all old buildings, are frozen in a tactile time warp -- stone, brick and concrete shaped into utilitarian as well as public image symbolic facades of the past century's way of seeing, doing and being.

These solid constructions represent our country's irrepressible vitality and energetic entrepreneurial past as well as the beginning of efficient industrial manufacturing transportation and technology. As seen on the map at left, older industrial buildings are always aligned with as much square footage as physically possible to the once dominant transport system of the railroad.

Galvanizing the surrounding landscape and forming what was once the backbone of commercial Atlanta, these well organized commercial enterprises generated residential neighborhoods and retail on Marietta Street extending to the Mid Artery. See photos at end of page.

Saddle Shop Watkins Street Lofts Upchurch Packing House Richard Martin Development King Plow Development Puritan Chemical Company Howell Interlocking Northside Tavern The Mid Artery Sept.2 , 1864 Surrender of Atlanta Site of Foster House 1864 Command Transfer Site of Dexter Niles Home Sherman's Invasion Route Site of Sara Huff Home King Plow Arts Center Howell Station Historic District Miller Union Stockyards S E Meat Company H.G. Poss & Company Murphys Dairy Company Laura Haygood Grade School Ashby Street Trolley Barn Exposition Cotton Mills Georgia Institute of Technology Home Park White Provision Building Atlanta Water Works Atlantic Steel Development Westinghouse Building Tucker Mott Development Foster Street Arts and Antiques East Bland Town E. Van Winkles Gin and Machine Works West Bland Town

The one building configuration that doesn't align itself to the railway on the local area map above had its grand opening in 1941 and silently heralds the oncoming epoch of street travel as primary commercial transportation.

Logically, although it is illegal to walk along and frequented by wandering vagrants of all sorts, the best way to get a sense of the historic beauty and architectural continuity of this district is to observe it walking along the railroad tracks from whence it sprang.

HISTORICAL BUILDING ACTIVITY

There seem to be 4 major waves of building activity in the upper Artery :

(Wave 1) 1880s -1920 : Buildings responding to the cultural pressure of the Civil War, appearing after The Reconstruction Period. In the Artery these buildings were located along the railway, generally industrial in nature, and well organized, substantial constructions. The trolley was the main form of human transportation while the railroad hauled raw materials to the factories.

From the Berkeley Park Home Page :

A resident recalls, “This was the area from which all the Atlanta livestock were taken from the railroad on the back side of the buildings on Brady Avenue and the front of White Provision Company. The streetcar had to switch tracks at this location and sometimes wait while the cows, horses and pigs were herded across the street.” Atlanta Stock Yards and White Provision Company were located at Brady Avenue and Howell Mill Road.

(Wave 2) 1920 -1950s  : Ongoing development of the retail, residential and commercial buildings supporting the first wave.
(Wave 3) 1950s - 1990 : Rapid technological and transportation cultural changes ; desertion and deterioration of buildings ; bank foreclosures ; land owning families and individuals held on because no one would buy the properties ; a few small business's with an eye to location bought cheap and built infill buildings.

(Wave 4) 1990 - present : Perception of this well located area changes with adaptive reuse and redevelopment such as King Plow Arts Center, Atlantic Steel and a Tucker Mott adaptive reuse of The United Butchers Abattoir Building .

First wave buildings exist on the streets in the Fairlie-Poplar Historic District (unless Georgia State tears them down in their very aggressive expansion plans) but for the most part in the Artery they are along the railway. The image map above documents existing structures of waves 1, 2 and 4.

The upper Artery is located in early Atlanta's northwest extremity and might be considered the 'country cousin' to the Mid and Lower Artery because of the building spacing. In the mid and lower Artery the land lots were smaller, closer together, but in the upper Artery first wave buildings are well landed estates with plenty of space around. This was originally the farthest of regions, in the second and third railway mile rings of Atlanta in the days of the horse and buggy.

Howell InterlockenThere is also plenty of space between many of the buildings from the second wave along the streets, with infill from the third wave. This makes it very enigmatic to ride in a car through the upper Artery to experience the spirit of the first wave buildings - their relationships can only be seen from the railway. In the mid and lower Arteries the buildings are close enough together in space to visually form an easily distinguished district of old structures from the street.

This street side visual enigma in the upper Artery is compounded by the 'Spaghetti Junction' like configuration of the tracks around Howell Interlocken which splits the area up even more from the street. Story telling densities of older structures are not casually distinguished from a car as one sees the occasional old building surrounded by mostly 1930s to 1980s commercial structures.

 

Miller Union Stock YardsAnother reason for a lack of first wave building density along the streets of Howell Mill Road, Brady Avenue and a stretch along the railroad is that the structures of the Miller Union Stock Yards were composed of perishable wood barns of little longevity.

Beginning in the 1920's and 30's small business's concerned with livestock, metal fabrication industries, and The Laura Haygood Grade School constructed more substantial structures which still stand today. These structures generally had plenty of space around them which makes one reasonably assume that the price of land out here must have been relatively low with land lots generous compared to denser parts of Atlanta closer to the original central core. Wood houses show up in this area on 1911 and 1932 Sanborns.

 

COMPARISON OF 1950s PHOTOGRAPHS (PULLEN ARCHIVES LANE COLLECTION) TO 1998 PHOTOGRAPHS
Photos below show this area to have been somewhat modified on the street side by commercialization, latter day infill buildings and modernization of the front facades of some older buildings. The sides and especially the backs of many of these buildings are closest to original condition and can be historically observed best from the railroad tracks.

The left hand photo below is taken at the corner of Howell Mill and Huff Road facing south in 1952 the right photo in 1998.

White Provision Company Tucker Mott Development Tucker-Mott Development

This point is the northern entry into the upper Artery. In 1952 the smoke stack is still intact on the White Provision Building and the R.R. bridge was metal, not concrete construction. Domination of the landscape by industrial buildings is not impacted at all by the 1960's infill storefronts.

The Tucker Mott adaptive reuse of The United Butchers Abattoir Building on the southwest corner at the right, antique shopping center at left and surrounding acreage will provide some lively urban life as a multiuse center. Eventually there will be a 10,000 square foot gourmet grocery store, coffee shops, restaurants, a 1940s nightclub in the lower level facing the railway (now in the works) , antique shops, The Garden Path plant nursery on the surrounding acreage and more. These developers also did a sensitive and interesting adaptive reuse at the Floataway Buildings on 1123 Zunolite Road (near the intersection of Johnsons Ferry and Briarcliff Road).

The most remarkable change between the 1956 photo and 1998 photo below are the skyscrapers dominating the skyline. Architecturally these buildings symbolize the communion of commercial, technological, economic and social powers. Cummins Diesel is presently Forsyth's Sofas and Chairs.

Tucker-Mott Development

The photos below are looking north on Marietta Street where Howell Mill Road splits off to the right .

Although the 1998 photo was taken on a Saturday afternoon, the area was much livelier in terms of people in the 1950s because there was a symbiotic relationship between local industry, shopping, residential housing and the trolley (see mid Artery). As stated by Renee Kemp-Rotan, the acting director of the City of Atlanta Department of Housing and Community Development, in order for this area to come alive the resident body count needs to be higher.

The two above photos are almost the same in terms of building topography except a Standard Oil Company station that was once on the corner is now demolished and the wood shacks in the foreground have been replaced. In the older photograph trolley tracks and overhead wires are clearly visible going to the town of Marietta and going up Howell Mill Road. The area straight ahead in the b/w photographs was at one time the Miller Union Stockyards.

Lower Artery Mid Artery
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