According to Jon C. Teaford, the central city began losing it’s preeminence in the realm of shopping and entertainment with the rise of the automobile and subsequently the suburbs.[1] Downtown Atlanta is no exception. There are virtually no major retailers in the downtown area. They have either moved to the suburbs surrounding Atlanta or moved to either Midtown or Buckhead. However that doesn’t mean that downtown is devoid of any shopping or entertainment.  These pictures were taken around Five Points, Peachtree Center, and Lenox Marta stations.

I took this picture almost immediately after exiting Five Points Marta Station. At 8:00 am on a Thursday morning, it looks pretty empty.  The large building on the left is now what looks like a hotel while a Payless can be seen on the right.  This would’ve have been where many of the major shops in downtown would’ve been located; they closed down and new shops moved in. Peachtree Street is the major road that runs throughout the city of Atlanta–this picture is taken facing south.

The right side of Peachtree Street showing a discount store.

The left side of Peachtree Street showing a Rainbow. Also note the building on the far right of the image. It seems to have once been a furniture store while the Rainbow occupies a building that also once housed a major retailer.

Again, images of the left side of Peachtree Street. Which displays the fact that Atlanta is long past the era of big downtown department stores that attracted many people.[2]

On the other hand, Lenox Mall in the Buckhead district of Atlanta provides a contrast. Like the images taken in Downtown, these pictures were taken within a short walk of a Marta station–Lenox Station in this case. Buckhead contains many of the major retailers that Downtown does not and does attract many shoppers and people seeking entertainment.

However Downtown Atlanta is not a total wasteland of an area that was once grand. Underground Atlanta, once abandoned from about 1930 to 1969, was restored to provide space for businesses and vendors.[3] There are still no major retailers, however it does attract tourists who want to see this part of Atlanta’s history. Smells of food dominate almost the entire mall.

Underground Atlanta from the outside. Pryor Street would be behind me in this picture.

A look inside of Underground Atlanta.

If one travels further north along Peachtree Street there are many restaurants that cater to people staying at any one of the nearby hotels.

Facing south down Peactree Street. These images were taken within a short distance of Peachtree Center Marta Station. This station is also connected to an underground mall.

Three more examples of restaurants catering to people coming into the city.

The Rialto Center of the Arts on Forsyth Street.

Woodruff Park decorated for the holidays.

To bring this blog full circle, we’re nearly back to where we started. This picture is taken from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive facing the Georgia Dome–one of Atlanta’s premier sports venues. According to Teaford, sports facilities are important to a city, and Atlanta is no exception. [4] The Georgia Dome helps to bring millions of dollars to the city with the many events held there.[5] Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center, and the World of Coke are among the attractions close to the Georgia Dome. I took the picture from this distance to show the close proximity.

While Downtown no longer has the big retail stores that once reigned, it’s still far from empty. If history does not repeat itself, there’s no way to tell if big retail stores will again dominate Downtown. Even if they  do not, there are always smaller businesses that still operate. However Downtown Atlanta is clearly not uniformly depressed.


[1] Teaford, Jon C. The Metropolitan Revolution: the Rise of Post-urban America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.  Pg. 93

[2] Teaford 92

[3] http://www.underground-atlanta.com/about-us/history-of-underground.html

[4] Teaford 255

[5] https://gadome.com/about/governance/pdf/August%202011%20Authority%20Meeting.pdf


The six pictures in this entry were taken from the 62nd floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta. The hotel was completed in 1976, and at the time of its original completion was the tallest hotel in the world standing at 723 feet with 73 total floors.(1) The hotel stands on the lot that originally was the spot for the thirteen story Henry Grady Hotel that lasted from 1923-1974.(2) The hotel provided a place for out of town tourists to stay while visiting Atlanta or simply passing through the city. Tourism is a key aspect of any downtown area and the importance of overnight accommodations play a role in the number of people visiting the city and what kind of people visit.
The first four pictures provide different views from out of each side of the window in the hotel room. The next photo is one that provides a straight down view and depicts other buildings around the Westin that are not nearly as tall. The last photo has a view of an exit off the 75/85 highway.

1. http://atlhistory.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=28
2. http://atlhistory.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&

Jacob Dyer


Atlanta is and has always been a night life city. Little Five Points, Virginia Highlands and Buckhead are the main areas of this. Little Five Points has many good restaurants such as the Vortex Bar and Grill. It is said to have the best hamburgers in Atlanta. The area is also an area for alternative rock pop music where young artists get their start. This is a little similar at nightclubs in Harlem and Chicago like the Cotton Club in Harlem and Chicago and also the Apollo in Harlem. There is the suburban Tucker Saloon that has the country aire to it like the suburb it’s in. The area has really grown since the 1970’s and has become more cosmopolitan. Cars of course play an important role in this as it does in the metropolitan area. Famous Pub is at Toco Hills shopping complex. It is a popular destination and sports bar with a friendly atmosphere and is popular with the neighborhood. Of course, in the old days it would be part of a walking city but cars figure in. Buchead has three bars in the same building that is very urban. They are Loco’s, Moondog’s and The Hole in the Wall. They are popular with college or former Georgia college students. They capture a wide variety of people that epitomize Buckhead and Atlanta’s diversity. Atlanta is a popular destination as is Buckhead. Atlanta is an international city with a popular nightlife. It is one of the most popular facets of Atlanta that has the urban and suburban sprawl that give it a big city atmosphere.
Alvarez, Luis. The Power Of The Zoot. London: University of California Press, 2008.

Barth, Gunther. City People. Oxford: Oxford University Press,1980.

Ruth David E. Inventing The Public Enemy. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press,1996.

Billy McGarity


The Branches neighborhood.

The Branches neighborhood.

According to the 2010 US Census Bureau, the city of Atlanta has a population of 420,003, however the metropolitan area of Atlanta has a population of 5,268,860. [1]  That means that 4,848,857 people live in the surrounding suburbs of Atlanta, some of which have become small cities themselves, such as the city of Sandy Springs.  The two photos above are of the neighborhood I live in, The Branches, which is located in both of the cities of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody.  The suburbs serve as a pastoral place far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city for people to live.  They began as an escape from the city, its blight and its costs.  According to Garth, the suburbs were a place separate from the city, but not completely separate, as to be considered rural. [2]

North Springs Charter High School

While living away from the city, suburban residents wanted to have schools near their homes for their children to attend, such as the high school in the picture above and my alma mater, North Springs Charter High School.  The location of these schools and their quality greatly affects the real estate prices of the surrounding homes in the suburbs, such as Sandy Springs.

Sandy Springs Public Library

Sandy Springs Police patrol cruiser.

Having escaped the costs and blight of the city, suburban residents still wanted the benefits and services the city had to offer, such as water treatment, street lights, fire fighters, public libraries, and police.  The two pictures above show the Sandy Springs Public Library and a patrol cruiser of the Sandy Springs Police, which became its own force when Sandy Springs became a city in 2005.

Roswell Road

Sandy Springs Circle

Although, the city saw the innovation of the department store [3], the suburbs had the space and resources for larger commercial areas.  A variety of stores and restaurants propped up to serve the local suburban residents and provided further growth for cities’ suburban areas.  Of the two photos above, the top one is of Roswell Road, a major artery of Sandy Springs, which connects residential areas to the many businesses along its sides.  Roswell Road also connects the suburbs of Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Buckhead to each other.  The bottom photo is of Sandy Springs Circle, a commercial area within Sandy Springs just off of Roswell Rd.  An innovation of the strip mall, it includes the businesses of a strip mall without taking more space than it needs to and without spilling into residential areas, with its circular design and apparent separateness from the homes of the residents it serves.

Sandy Springs Park

The sandy spring.

Parks were pioneered as necessary green spaces within the brick, metal, and glass jungles that are American cities.  They were viewed as places for the public to escape the dreariness of the city and enjoy.  Suburbs, for the most part allowed their residents to live within a green space, however as cities become larger, surrounding suburbs become more urban, and parks are created as a buffer or balance.  For instance, in Sandy Springs, right outside the previously mentioned commercial area of the Sandy Springs Circle, is the Sandy Springs Park.  The park allows people to get together from their relatively private suburban lives to enjoy the green space together.  The top photo is of Sandy Springs park and the bottom photo is of the sandy spring, located in Sandy Springs Park and for which Sandy Springs is named.

North Springs MARTA Station

Lastly, as the suburbs grow larger and their residents live further and further away from cities’ centers, transportation between the city and its surrounding suburbs progresses to allow easier access to and from the city for its suburbanites. [4]  The above photo is of the North Springs MARTA Station, the northernmost station of the MARTA lines and 1 of 2 stations serving Sandy Springs, the other being the Sandy Springs MARTA Station, which is only 1 mile south of the North Springs station.  The station’s location allows for easy access from Sandy Springs and other suburbs to the MARTA train which connects them to the city of Atlanta and to the airport, connecting Sandy Springs residents to their jobs or education within the city, the rest of the country, and the rest of the world.

All photos taken with my iPhone 3G.


1.  2010.census.gov/2010census/

2.  Barth, Gunther.  City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America.  Oxford University Press: New York.  1980.  p.41

3.  Barth, Gunther.  p.130

4. Barth, Gunther.  p.41





As seen in the view from the Decatur Street bridge, the elevated plaza system effectively de-fragments the campus by raising pedstrians above the vehicle traffic of the streets. However, the elevated plaza also creates a more pedestrian friendly and aesthetically pleasing campus by removing parked vehicles and shipping traffic from the sight of students, faculty, and visitors. In the right half of the above photo, students are making use of the plaza by socializing near the library’s entrance. The left half of the photo provides a much different view, though. This side of the image shows the original ground floor located below the plaza. The portion of the lower level shown in this image serves as a faculty parking lot. Before the construction of the elevated plaza, this parking lot was at the heart of the university and had to be navigated in order to move from the library to Kell or Sparks Halls.

In the lower right portion of this picture the shipping and receiving area for the university’s core buildings is visible. Once again, by removing pedestrians from the fragmenting effects of such vehicular traffic, the elevated plaza successfully creates a unified campus and a represents a shared space where students, faculty, and staff may mingle in an intimate academic environment, a space both removed from the busy city and a vital part of the metropolis.

Barth, Gunther. City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Georgia State College Comprehensive Master Plan. Atlanta: Robert and Company Associates, 1966.

Georgia State University Facilities Master Plan. Atlanta: Georgia State University, 1987.


Beginning as part of a proposal by Robert and Company Associates in 1966 for a raised platform campus, the Georgia State University plaza now represents a crucial aspect of the university (Georgia State College Comprehensive Campus Master Plan 1). The plaza, as seen in the above photo, now acts as a meeting place for students, faculty, and visitors. Located at the core of the unviersity’s campus, the plaza experiences high pedestrian traffic as people move across the busy metropolitan campus.

The plaza holds a significant location on Georgia State University’s campus, particularly because of the access it provides to several of the schools’ main buildings, including Kell Hall, Sparks Hall, Library North (shown above), and General Classroom Building. With the construction of General Classroom Building in 1971, the platform system proposed five years earlier by Robert and Company Associates was realized, and the plaza was born. The main entrance to General Classroom was built on the new plaza, and main entrances to Kell Hall, Sparks Hall, and the University Library were raised to the new ground level (Georgia State University Facilities Master Plan, 40).  By placing the main entrances to these buildings on the interior plaza, which was at the time enclosed from the city on its south east boundary by the unbroken wall running parallel to Courtland Street, the elevated plaza removed pedestrians from the busy city streets and created a safer, more intimate campus.

Along  with the construction of General Classroom Building and the elevated plaza in 1971 came the construction of a bridge over Decatur Street, which linked the plaza and the core buildings surrounding it to the Business Administration Building, the structure which now exists as part of Classroom South and Library South (Georgia State University Facilities Master Plan 40). By providing students, faculty, and visitors with a safe means of travel across bustling Decatur Street, the new bridge extended the elevated plaftorm plaza and created a more pedestrian friendly campus.

The above picture shows a view from the Decatur Street bridge. This bridge, as aforementioned, allows students, faculty, and wayfaring photographers a convenient and safe crossing of Decatur Street. Interestingly, this view also reveals an interesting connection to Gunther Barth’s book City People. In his chapter on department stores, Barth discusses the manner in which the introduction of the department store to downtowns effected the sidewalks by these stores. Barth claims that the introduction of the department store resulted in “clean sidewalks” meant to “entice women to linger in front of store windows without fear of being harassed by draymen and crowded by office boys” (Barth 146). Urban colleges and universities have a similar impact on the surrounding streets and sidewalks. Looking down from the Decatur Street bridge, a view shown in the above image, one may notice the clean and aesthetically pleasing sidewalk. The clean concrete, juxtaposed with the dark asphalt to the left and the red brick of General Classroom Building to the right, encourages students, faculty, and visitors to linger on the campus’ sidewalks. Furthermore, the regular spacing of lamp posts fosters a feeling of protection, providing comfort to those who do decide to linger. At night, these lamp posts light up the sidewalk in a way that resembles the “Novel phosgene lamps” which Barth claims “illuminated the [department store’s] display at night and radiated their brilliant light onto the murkey street” (138).

The city of Snellville was founded in the late 1800s and was originally a small farming and commercial town.  In present times, Snellville is one of the fastest growing cities in Gwinnett County.  A look into the past can still be found on the outskirts of the city despite the fast economic growth and suburbanization occurring from Atlanta to Snellville.  As a city that is only 18 miles from Atlanta, it can definitely be implied that a number of Snellville residence work in Atlanta and commute to and from work.

Close to Snellville Middle School (in fact right next door) are local farm houses and other homes of large land owners.  I can remember walking around the outside track in P.E. and the horses could wander close to the fence that separated the school and the farm houses.  There was even a sign depicting horse crossing which I would not normally have gotten to see in rural areas. Coming from a place where I had never seen a horse except on television, Snellville seemed like a backwards place when I first moved there with my family.

The federal highway system, which began in 1947, opened up the rural area and land for suburbanization [1].  Snellville is interesting and is a strategic point of interest because of its location.  The city is located at the intersection of two major highways (UShwy 78 and 124).  This brought many different restaurants, department stores and inspired some neighborhoods to branch off of these major travel routes. Along both highways are such restaurants as panda express and stores such as GAP.  According to a 2000 census, the city has about 1,000 businesses and they have brought over $1 billion in revenue to the city [2] and distinguish it from neighboring cities such as Loganville andCenterville.

The influx of population began in the late 1990s early 2000 peaking recently from personal observation.  This is when more companies began construction on buildings and housing communities sprouted up.  Within my neighborhood is one house at the entrance that does not look like the other houses within the neighborhood.  Well this house is the house of the original land owners that the neighborhood was built.  Their land was bought to build the community and their house became incorporated in the neighborhood association.


Even though Snellville seems like part of the “Edgeless city”, stated in Teaford’s book, due to the strip malls and office buildings which add to the metroAtlantaarea [3], Snellville still enjoys its origins and rural beginnings.


[1] Chudacoff, Howard P., and Judith E. Smith. The Evolution of American Urban Society. 4th ed.Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1994. Print.  Pg. 259

[2] www.snellville.org

[3] Teaford, Jon C. The Metropolitan Revolution: the Rise of Post-urban America.New York:Columbia UP, 2006. Print.  Pg. 241