Atlanta, GA Market Snapshots

Atlanta Then and Now: Instant Time-Travel with 10 Old vs New Images of a Great City

Atlanta, GA is one of the best known cities in the world and in the top 10 most visited destinations in the United States, known for its rich history, diversity, beautiful home architecture, award winning theater design, lots of green spaces and so much more. Currently a major business hub, Atlanta is anchored by its railroads, which marked the city’s formation in 1837.

Since then, this progressive city has regularly reinvented itself, while remaining a global leader on all fronts. So how has real estate development changed the landscape, skyline, and life in Atlanta over the last couple of centuries?

We took a visual journey as far back as the 1800’s — from a real estate vantage point – by using Google Street View images and local government resources. Drag the arrow left and right to see our favorite then and now snapshots:

1. Margaret Mitchell Square

Then: 1938

Even in 1938 downtown Atlanta was a bustling commercial hub, which has often resembled Times Square. This is the site where the original Gone With the Wind movie was premiered back in 1939. Although that theatre was lost to a fire, today the neighborhood still boasts the red brick home of the famous film’s author.

Photo Credit 1938: Library of Congress Photo Credit 2015: Google Maps

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2. Whitehall Street

Then: 1864

Running from Downtown through Midtown Atlanta to today’s luxury retail shopping in Buckhead, and now renamed Peachtree Street, Whitehall has been a center of commerce for over 150 years. Pictured is the famous Five Points in the heart of the civil war, with soldiers outside the Georgia Railroad & Banking Company Agency building.

Photo Credit 1864: Library of Congress Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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3. Lower Peachtree Street

Then: 1906

Before housing today’s Microsoft Innovation Center and hot early stage startups, with entrepreneurs being shuttled by Uber, this monumental Flatiron building was once the tallest in Atlanta. As pictured, this long time center of commercial activity was served by street cars, and built by Coca-Cola magnate Asa Griggs Candler.

Photo Credit 1900: Library of Congress Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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4. Old Equitable Building

Then: 1970

The building with the most floors in Atlanta until 1897, the Equitable Building was sadly demolished in 1971, some say because it blocked the view of the Trust Company building behind it. The building was commissioned by local developer and street car king Joel Hurt and it was Atlanta’s first skyscraper. On the left notice the original Havertys furniture store, founded in 1885. While there may be less soul music, Elvis Presley, and flares today, you might think the new building is groovier.

Photo Credit 1970: Library of Congress Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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5. Atlanta Skyline

Then: 1986

Can you spot the differences 30 years have made? Among other things, two new major towers were added to the skyline. On the left, One Ninety One Peachtree Tower — completed in 1990 — is the fourth tallest in the city, and the triple winner of the BOMA Building of the Year Awards. On the right, SunTrust Plaza was finished in 1992, and has been the second-tallest building in Atlanta since then.

Photo Credit 1986: Georgia State University Library Photo Credit 2015: Google Maps

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6. Edgewood Avenue & Pryor Street

Then: 1920

Here are two very different faces of Atlanta taken in the proximity of the old Equitable Building (mentioned above). The old architecture buildings and their glory are long gone. Today we have the modernist One Park Place on the left side, formerly known as 11 Pryor Street, home to several Georgia State University departments. On the right hand side, the massive office building at 10 Park Place SE — formerly named the Thornton Building — is a modernist concept of the early 1930’s designed by Atlanta’s famous public buildings architect Anthony Ten Eyck Brown.

Photo Credit 1920: Georgia State University Library Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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7. North Broad Street

Then: 1910

The 1910’s image of downtown Atlanta taken near the intersection with Marietta St depicts the Wells Bros Signs, the Exchange Hotel, the Grant Building and lots of traffic. Nowadays, the traffic remains, along with the Grant Building still standing, proudly boasting its old-time charm. Around 1960 the 17-floor Commerce Building was constructed at 34 Broad Street NW, with parking on the first 9 floors.

Photo Credit 1910: Georgia State University Library Photo Credit 2016: Google Maps

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8. Tech Tower

Then: 1909

Perhaps one of America’s most notable buildings, Georgia Tech’s ‘Tech Tower’ may have undergone some upgrades, just like the current students’ wardrobes since being constructed in 1888, but it’s always been an icon. Officially named ‘The Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building’, this was the second structure to be finished on the Georgia Institute of Technology Campus.

Photo Credit 1909: Library of Congress Photo Credit 2014: Google Maps

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9. Henry Grady Statue

Then: 1939

Erected in honor of Henry Woodfin Grady who wrote, negotiated, and helped pioneer the reintegration of the ‘New South’ after the American Civil War, originally the statue stood in front of the Atlanta City Hall. With that building now gone, having been moved and restored for the Olympic Games, this Marietta Street monument continues to be controversial. On the left side at 56 Marietta Street is a 160,000 square foot data center, a repurposed building from a 1950’s construction originally designed to serve as a printing press and bomb shelter.

Photo Credit 1939: Georgia State University Library Photo Credit 2015: Google Maps

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10. Aerial View

Then: 1940

Though already bustling with cars, and a sprawling metropolis in 1940, Atlanta certainly appears less leafy, a little smokier, and more conforming than today. Now we see more glass, much of the city’s public housing has been cleared in the 2000s, and decades of new styles have provided a more eclectic, yet culturally rich landscape.

Photo Credit 1940: Library of Congress Photo Credit 2015: Google Earth

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What else in Atlanta do you wish you could go back in time to see?

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

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About the author

Nadia Balint

Nadia Balint is an online content developer and creative writer for RENTCafé. She loves writing and reading about real estate, lifestyle and travel. She finds joy and inspiration in the little things in life. You can get in touch with Nadia via email: nadia.balint@yardi.com.

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