Register listed : 2002
Readaptive Use Developers : Seed Partners, Hawkins Development (Official Website)
Readaptive Use Architects : Goode Van Slyke
Empowerment Zone : COPA, AEZC
|credits and footnotes
Original Builders: Southern Railway
Significant Dates: 1925-1962
Description of Architectural Classification: Utilitarian early 20th century railway by Southern Railways in-house architect. Tilt-slab concrete construction.
Classical Materials: Concrete block/brick/post and beam
Historic Functions: INDUSTRY:utilitarian industrial
Current Functions: business
|ABOVE: 1932 Sanborn Map; Courtesy of the Atlanta History Center.
The North Yards complex serves as a microcosm of twentieth century changes in the railroading business. The Roundhouse was built in the 1920s to assemble and service passenger trains, the backbone of long distance travel in the United States at that time. After World War 11, improvements in the nationwide road network combined with ready availability of new automobiles and improved air travel sharply reduced the passenger component of the railroads. To compensate for the loss in passenger revenue, the railroads concentrated their energy on competing with truck transportation to retain and expand their freight business. The increased use of trucks to transport goods put pressure on the railroads to come up with new ways to improve their efficiency. They responded by adapting the techniques of truck and barge transportation to the freight business. The results were the containerized freight and "piggyback," or rail to road operations of today. The warehouses, which now surround the original Roundhouse, were built in the 1950s and 1960s and represent the transition period between all rail and rail to road means of rail transportation.
The reuse of the Roundhouse as a public warehouse resulted in the saving of this building, one of only two left in Georgia today, and shows the adaptability of utilitarian structures. The idea of a public warehouse, where shippers could safely store amounts of goods too small to justify their own warehouses, and located with equal access to rail and road transportation, resulted in a new usage for the North Avenue complex. The public warehouse business grew and so did the North Avenue Yards. Originally consisting of just the Roundhouse, additional buildings were added as growth of the business required additional storage space. The siting of the new warehouses, surrounding and connected to the Roundhouse, the use of existing and new spur tracks, and the provision of loading docks for trucks, are all important in understanding the complex. The first warehouse building was built in 1952, another was added in 1953 and a third in 1956. These were all connected to the Roundhouse and to each other. Beginning in 1958, another warehouse building was built in three stages, with sections added to the 1958 building in 1962 and 1965. The last two sections were specifically designed for storage of commodities, with a part of the 1965 addition dedicated to cold storage.
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