A Look Back at Atlanta History

By Ann Boutwell

Jan 1, 1902: The Negro Literary and Historical Society commemorated the 39th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The Ebenezer Baptist Church was the celebration site, located then on the corner of Bell and Gilmer streets. Pastor A.D. Williams, the future grandfather of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the benediction.

Jan 1, 1912: The Capital City Club, founded in 1883, celebrated its 28th annual New Year’s Ball. The festivities were held in its new home located on Harris Street— now, 7 John Portman Boulevard. New York’s Beaux-Arts-trained architect Donn Barber designed the five story site, listed in the National Historic Register in 1977.

Jan.2, 1912: Once called the city’s leanest baby skyscraper, the Hillyer Trust Company opened at 140 Peachtree St. with eight stories. In 1977, Atlanta architect Neel Reid’s 65-year old building received a prestigious landmark designation. Unfortunately, based on structural analysis, the owners C&S— Citizens and Southern Bank— reduced it to three floors. Future blasting during MARTA’s North/South rail line construction and the Atlanta Carnegie Library demolition were also noted as reasons. In 1980, the structure’s historical designation was officially stripped. In April 1985, C&S donated the property to the Atlanta Historical Society.  On Nov. 22, 2011 the old Hillyer became the home of new owner’s Breen & Smith Advertising.

Jan. 8, 1981: Coca-Cola began dismantling of its giant, neon signature sign, located above the Russell Stover Candy Store, in the concrete triangular island in front of the Candler Building across from today’s Margaret Mitchell Square. Since February 1949, the icon graced the roof top of the old Peck Building also known as the Belle Isle building. A negotiation dealing with Georgia Pacific’s moving its corporate headquarters from Portland to Atlanta included issues dealing with the island, the building, and the sign. After 23 years—May 6, 2003— a new Coca-Cola was erected on top of the Olympia Building on Peachtree.

Jan. 10, 1976: National Feminist leaders joined 3,000 persons—mostly young people—on a mile-long march through downtown Atlanta in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Two feminist writers, Betty Friedan and Kate Millet, addressed a rally in front of the Georgia State Capital.

Jan. 12, 1982: A snow and ice storm hit Atlanta stranding 100,000 motorists.

Jan. 20, 1851: The first marriage recorded in the city of Atlanta by the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is that of Michael Bloomfield and Elizabeth Malone, performed by Rev. J. F. O’Neill. The couple rests in Oakland Cemetery with daughters Bridget, Anna, Caroline, and Isabelle, who died as children (ages 2 through 8) within ten days of each other in January 1863.

Jan. 23, 1895: At a meeting of the Cotton States and International Exhibition Board, Alexander Smith proposed that streets in the vicinity of Piedmont Park be renamed. His suggestions were that Bleckley Street be changed to Tenth Street; Harrison Avenue and Davis to Eleventh Street; Bowden Street to Twelfth Street; Center Street to Thirteenth, and Wilson Avenue to Fourteenth Street. “The change,” said Smith “would simplify the route to the exposition grounds.” The board agreed, accepted and added that it was doubtful that the Fulton County Commission would reject this progressive idea. At this time these streets were outside the city limits.

Jan. 30, 1915: An unidentified blonde woman wearing a harem hat shocks Atlanta society when she smoked a cigarette in the Piedmont Hotel Café. The Atlanta Journal reported that after she finished her smoke, she flipped the butt into the ashtray, took her escort’s arm and left, not realizing that she has just done what had never been done before.

1 Comment
  1. i found a oversized zipper looking tab with a metal detector it has a image on one side of the atlanta trust building, and instructions to return if found on the reverse side…the owners number on the tab is 291 ..any clues? it appears to be 1800’s but maybe early 1900’s ??

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