Visit Atlanta With History in Mind!


We have mentioned that Atlanta is not noted for its conservation of historic sites. Some people think this is a reflection on the fact of the burning of Atlanta during the Civil War.

Others feel it is just the fact that Atlanta considers its self a modern city and wants to further that image with new buildings that reflect its status as the leading metropolis of the south.

Whatever the reason may be, the citizens of Atlanta have lost a lot of its historical buildings and sites over the years. There are still places with historic interest that you will want to visit.

by Lain Shakespeare via wikimedia commons

The Wren’s Nest is one of the city’s true historical attractions.  The Wren’s Nest was the home of Joel Chandler Harris from 1881 until his death in 1908.

Harris was a newspaper man in several Georgia cities before becoming an editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper and later writing the Brer Rabbit stories.

On Saturdays you can visit the Wren’s Nest and enjoy some great storytelling starting around 1 p.m.

The King Center in the Auburn Avenue area of downtown Atlanta is a place you will want to visit if you have an interest in history. The King Center was established by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King in 1968.

by Mikefairbanks via wikimedia commons

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site includes the childhood home of Dr. King, the Ebenezer Baptist Church and several other buildings in the area. Nearly a million visitors come to this site each year.

You will also want to spend some time in Piedmont Park. Piedmont Park was originally designed as part of the Piedmont Exposition in 1887 and later used for the Cotton States and International Exposition in 1895. Early in the 20th century, the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park, led a redesign of the park that, though never fully implemented, brought about what we now know as Piedmont Park.

by Mike via wikimedia commons

Piedmont Park is a green oasis in the middle of a large metropolitan city. On any given day, and especially on the weekends, you will find people enjoying the park. There are walking and jogging paths and there are swings and benches throughout the park where you can sit and enjoy the scenery while people watching.

It is home to the Piedmont Park Arts Festival and the Midtown Music Festival. You will find something going on in Piedmont Park almost any time of the year.

Another historic park is Grant Park, which is the oldest city park in Atlanta. The Olmstead bothers, mentioned earlier, created the plan for the park. It is named for Lemuel P. Grant who donated the original land for the park.

by Jtesla16 via wikimedia commons

Zoo Atlanta is a part of Grant Park. In 1889 animals from a failed circus were purchased and donated to the city. Grant Park was selected as the place for Atlanta’s new zoo.

As with many zoos in America, the zoo in Atlanta went through a period of decline in the 1970s and early 1980s. The zoo was privatized in 1985 and restoration began.

Now Zoo Atlanta boasts many high profile exhibits and is one of four institutions in the United States to house pandas.

Another stop in Grant Park is the Cyclorama. Since 1921 a building in Grant Park has housed the painting of the Battle of Atlanta. The circular painting is 42 feet high and 358 feet long.

Also in the building is a museum where you can see the Texas, a steam locomotive that took part in the chase and capture of the locomotive General during the Civil War. The story of the chase was told in a Disney movie The Great Locomotive Chase in 1956.

There is now a plan in place to move the Cyclorama from Grant Park to the Atlanta History Center. When this occurs there will be a complete renovation of the painting including adding a section of the original painting that is not part of its current location.

by Evilarry via wikimedia commons

The Atlanta History Center is in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. Here you can see exhibits about the history of Atlanta as well as visit The Swan House and the 1860s Smith Family Farm.  You may have seen the Swan House as the finish line for the 19th season of TV’s The Amazing Race or in the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

There is one last stop I will mention and that is the Margaret Mitchell House.  The Margaret Mitchell House is on the National Historic Register and is operated by the Atlanta Historical Society. You will find it in Midtown Atlanta on Atlanta’s famous Peachtree Street.

Margaret Mitchell lived in the house and wrote parts of the book Gone With the Wind while there.  The house was an apartment house when Ms. Mitchell lived there in Apartment 1. Ms. Mitchell always referred to her apartment as “the dump.”

Well there you have it, just a few places for you to visit in the city of Atlanta. If you are a visitor to our city, there are many other sites you will want to see, but I thought I might mention just a few with a bit of historical significance.

Next: Oakland Cemetery, Another Atlanta Treasure

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