Inman Park: Atlanta’s First Suburb


The next time you follow your favorite team to the Atlanta area, plan an extra day to check out the various in-town neighborhoods. First on your list might be Inman Park: Atlanta’s first suburb.

In the 1880s, Joel Hurt joined forces with Samuel Inman to design and build a planned residential community about two miles east of the central city. Because the area is located on a hill, they envisioned a neighborhood where cool breezes and planned gardens and parks would provide an escape from the city heat for prominent Atlanta families.

Because Atlanta’s first electric trolley line stretched to the new development, the city’s business leaders could easily travel into the city each workday, leaving their families to enjoy the quiet suburban lifestyle. City leaders including Asa Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company, and many others built magnificent homes there.

Through the early 20th Century, the area thrived, and many new homes were built, leaving the eclectic mix of architectural styles we see today. But with the advent of the automobile, families were able to move farther away, and areas on the north side of Atlanta began to grow in favor. Through the 50s and 60s, fabulous Inman Park homes fell into disrepair, and many were subdivided into rental units serving the working poor.

In the late 60s and early 70s, young professionals began moving back into the area, spurring Atlanta’s first in-town community gentrification. In 1971, the first neighborhood association was formed, and the entire neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

It was during this time that plans were announced for a major interstate highway through in-town Atlanta neighborhoods, and many homes were purchased and torn down. Neighborhood associations, including the one from Inman Park, fought the highway and were finally successful when vacant lots were turned into parks and the highway was limited to what is now known as Freedom Parkway, linking the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Carter Center with the Martin Luther King, Jr., Historic Site.

Beginning in 1971, the annual Inman Park Festival is held on the last full weekend of April, drawing artists and performers from all over the country. Complete with a huge parade, music, dance, kids’ activities, more than 250 booths offering antiques and handcrafted wares, as well as foods and beverages of every kind, the festival also offers a Tour of Homes, giving visitors an opportunity to experience the history of the area first-hand.

Whether you’re a visitor to Atlanta or a life-long resident, take time to enjoy the treasures of the city. It’ll be time well spent!

Next: Bridgewater College and My Dad

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