Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reader email part II

SF's email had another portion:
Also, I'm looking for Atlanta book recommendations, focusing on either history or development. So far, I've read Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn and Living Atlanta, and The Temple Bombings is sitting on my living room table, but I haven't started it. If you have any recommendations, I'd like to hear them!
I also highly recommend Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn. Living Atlanta is actually on my imaginary list of books to read. I have read portions of Atlanta and Environs, by Franklin M. Garrett. It is the authoritative history up until about 1939, and I recommend it although I have not made it through the whole thing. It is about 1,000 pages long, in two volumes. There is a third volume by another author that I have not read. Your best bet for this book is the library, as I think it is out of print.

Also, it is not really a 'history' book, nor is it particularly original, but I enjoyed Atlanta: Then and Now. As a real estate guy, I love all the old pictures of the city. In the same vein, although with some history of the buildings thrown in, is Atlanta Architecture: Art Deco to Modern Classic. I think it was supposed to be part of a series, but I haven't read or found any others in the series. You should also check out Atlanta Time Machine if you haven't already, and be prepared to spend a few hours.

I honestly haven't read too much in the way of books regarding Atlanta history. A good friend loaned me Regime Politics, but I never read it. I think he may have read it for a class in urban policy at GSU.

A decent portion of my knowledge of Atlanta history has come through spending time at two place in the course of various jobs or projects:
  • The stacks at the Central Library looking up old copies of the Atlanta Journal or the Atlanta Constitution.
  • The Atlanta History Center
I have found some great old maps of the city, as well as incredible pictures and stories about areas you never thought about. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Terminal District Fire of 1908 - how many of you knew about the Terminal District at all (CAP people not included). I also found some great pictures of parades downtown for when Tech won the Rose Bowl and the national title in January 1929. The paper calls them the Golden Tornado instead of the Yellow Jackets, and there is a picture of a sign saying something like "UGA is proud of Tech". Swear to God. The parade for when Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam was awesome, too, and has some great pictures of this blog's namesake being mobbed with people.

Also, did anyone know that Sig Samuels Dry Cleaners used to be downtown? Siggy's has been around since 1932, and an old city directory I saw has an address for Sig Samuels on Mitchell Street. My family has been going to Siggy's for probably 30 years, so I remembered that little fact. I find these little bits of history that relate to my life to be a lot more interesting than some of the big ticket items.


  1. I read Regime Politics. I recall it being pretty good, though I'll be damned if I can recall anything from it on the spot.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! Part of my interest stems from bicycling around, actually....I see a lot more from my bicycle from my car, and sometimes, I can almost see Atlanta the way it used to be, when downtown was thriving and there were streetcars. I like knowing where things used to be as I pass them. (Also, I work at the GT Library, and we have a small collection of Atlanta history books - but not much fiction. So I'm diversifying.)

  3. There is one piece I forgot to mention. It's not a great piece of literature, but A Man in Full is probably mandatory reading for anyone interested in Atlanta real estate and development. Aspects of it are a bit too stereotypical, and things have changed a little since the book was written, but I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoy movies shot in Atlanta. "Hey, I know that building!"

  4. Another good read is Atlanta: Race, Class, and Urban Expansion by Larry Keating. He's recently retired from GT's city planning department.


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