Who Lived Here? Where did they go?
WHO LIVED HERE? WHERE DID THEY GO? is a study that reflects how Atlanta was influenced by racial zoning, shanty town clearances, public housing replacements, and modern-day progress. This website is offered as a guide to help you navigate the neighborhoods and guide you through the oral history recordings.
About The Project
Dr. Georgianne Thomas,
Who Lived Here? Where Did They Go?
This monograph is an endeavor to share with you the history of many neighborhoods in Atlanta whose beginnings may surprise some of you and confirm superstitions, for others of you. We hope it is the gift that keeps on giving, as you follow the suggested sites that will extend your research and open new vistas of understanding about the authentic and historical components of some of Atlanta’s neighborhoods. Associated with this publication are oral interviews from long time Atlanta natives who give an inside unfiltered birds eye view of their communities. You hear from those who learned to ride their tricycles and bicycles through their neighborhood streets. You learn intimate details of friendships and kinships that impacted their growth and development throughout their lives. You hear first-hand the importance of community, neighbors helping neighbors, and the unapologetic communal love that was the thread line beyond economic and educational boundaries. In essence, you hear “the beloved community” frequently as used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I felt an urgency to capture the photographs of the steps located on the westside of Northside Drive in Atlanta, Georgia, traveling south, I had no idea those images would serve as the primer for the rediscovery of lost neighborhoods, specifically where Black people lived. If you speak to a Grady Hospital Baby, a McClendon Hospital Baby, or a Holy Family Hospital Baby, you will hear the charm and excitement in their collective voices exclaiming their Atlanta birthright. It is the love for community, the pride in belonging, and the fierce territorial spirit of comradeship that compelled me to ask, while photographing, WHO LIVED HERE? WHERE DID THEY GO? STEPS TO WHERE? The answers to my inquiry led me to a formidable discovery. Atlanta had a secret. A nostalgic, as well as a clandestine secret. Not the displacement of families living in public housing projects by the 1994 HOPE VI program, but neighborhoods that vanished based on power, progress, and punitive agendas camouflaged by racism. Many neighborhoods have not only lost their identity, but their original residents.
I am honored to serve as a Bishop Barbara A. Harris Justice Project Fellow. I am grateful that the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing was interested in these questions as well and the dream that I had about exploring them. The Center made it possible to turn this dream of connecting neighborhoods into a project, that not only connected communities, but made it possible to bring many of the people from those communities together which helped to warm hearts and souls. It was a joy to see the delight expressed in those who gathered to begin the initial conversations as we worked out the details of the project. I can only hope this work will continue to lift the spirit of lost neighborhoods by acknowledging their existence and therefore, send love to the residents who called these communities home.
I want to express my gratitude to all the participants in this project. I offer a hearty thank you to everyone who so graciously agreed to participate in the oral history portion of this work and patiently spent time at the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing making the recordings that are now available to the public.
It has been a joy to work with the staff at the Absalom Jones Center as well and I deeply appreciate their generosity and the great care with which they approach their work and especially everything related to this project.
I am grateful that the Absalom Jones Center chose to assist me in pursuing this idea regarding the steps on Northside Drive that kept calling me to investigate who had lived there and where did they go.
Thanks everyone who will come to Atlanta and visit these communities, read the monograph, and listen to the recorded oral history. Hopefully, you will be inspired to explore your community and that it will be a part of the process of racial healing in your neighborhood.
Also, thanks to those who live in Atlanta and who will be encouraged to pay better attention to these communities as you engage with the information that is presented in this monograph and the recordings.
I am grateful. Thank you.
Dr. Georgianne Thomas,
Who Lived here? Where Did They Go?
BAGLEY PARK (Buckhead/Irbyville), BEAVER SLIDE (replaced by University Homes), BLANDTOWN (now West Midtown), THE BLUFF (a term given to the English Avenue Community), BUTTERMILK BOTTOM (replaced by the Atlanta Civic Center), COLLIER HEIGHTS, DIAMOND HILL, DIXIE HILLS, ENGLISH AVENUE, FOURTH WARD, HIGHPOINT, JENNINGSTOWN (Diamond Hill in the Fifth Ward and Atlanta University), JOHNSONTOWN (Lenox Square), JOYLAND, KIRKWOOD, LIGHTENING (replaced by the Georgia World Congress Center), LYNNWOOD (now Brookhaven), MECHANICSVILLE, PEOPLESTOWN, PITTSBURG, REYNOLDSTOWN, SUMMERHILL, TANYARD BOTTOM (replaced by Techwood Homes), VINE CITY, WASHINGTON PARK/MOZELY PARK and the WEST END.
“Recovering historical neighborhoods is a part of healing.”
Racial healing cannot occur unless the truth is told, and this portion of the truth is important and needs to be told in a way that it can become a part of the collective understanding of the ways in which racial wounding occurred though it was often called progress.
Dr. Catherine Meeks
Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing