Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Atlanta Explorer – Interactive City Virtualization

December 19, 2014

I was fortunate to work on this video about a team at Emory’s Center for Digital Scholarship that is building a virtualization of 1930 Atlanta.  It’s like a Google Maps interface for the city as it existed 84 years ago, with the added feature that all the buildings will eventually be clickable, revealing all sorts of metadata and media about locations.  As geographer Michael Page notes in the video, this project is helping to re-define how we approach urban history.


MARBL’s Randy Gue discusses 1878 and 1928 Atlanta maps

August 30, 2012

As I mentioned in a previous post, Emory’s MARBL is providing online access to a variety of historical maps of Atlanta.  In addition, the Digital Scholarship Commons at Emory is working to produce an interactive map of 1930 Atlanta that will allow any type of data to be plotted, including the name, race, and gender of homeowners and detailed information about infrastructure at specific points, like whether a specific property had access to running water and electricity.  As the project site states, “this combination of GIS technology and unique datasets will change the way Jim Crow Atlanta is studied.”

In this video, MARBL curator Randy Gue discusses maps of Atlanta from 1878 and 1928 and how Emory is providing online access to these maps and beginning to build out the interactive map of 1930 Atlanta.

The World of Sid and Marty Krofft Oral History #1

November 24, 2009

Sid and Marty Krofft produced a number of popular kids television shows in the 60s and 70s, including H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost.  In 1976 they had the brilliant idea to build the world’s first entirely indoor amusement park and selected the Omni complex in Atlanta as the location.

The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was a total flop and closed in less than six months.  Part of the reason was that Atlanta’s population was shifting towards the suburbs and away from the decaying downtown, and, even though the World of Krofft was an impressive spectacle, many families didn’t want to make the trek into town to experience it.  Eleven years later Ted Turner bought the Omni complex and transformed it into the CNN Center.  Rumor has it that, even as late as a few years ago, CNN employees found Krofft costumes and drawings in the nooks and crannies of the building.

Not that many people currently living in Atlanta can boast that they actually visited The World of Sid and Marty Krofft, so I’ve decided to launch a completely unwieldy project:  I want to do oral histories with every single person who actually went.  I figure I’ll complete this project in 2042.

My first World of Sid and Marty Krofft oral history subject is Jamey Propst.  Jamey was a close friend of my dad and he’s also a fine actor.  He took his family to The World of Sid and Marty Krofft and, in this segment, shares his memories of this bizarre and shortlived place.

Atlanta’s Bygone Music Venues #2: Freddie Terrell talks about the Soul Expedition Club at Underground

September 15, 2009

As far as I know, The Soul Expedition Club, located at Underground from 1971 until 1974, has the distinction of being the only major music club in the city to be owned and developed by a prominent Baptist preacher.

Freddie Terrell’s band played every Sunday at Dr. W.J. Stafford’s Free for All Baptist Church on Lynhurst in Southwest Atlanta and also backed Stafford’s 1971 LP Drop Drugs…Get Hooked on Jesus.   Terrell suggested to Stafford that the band have their own club so that the various members wouldn’t have to go on the road constantly to make a living and thus miss their weekly church gig.  Stafford obliged by buying a space in Underground, transforming it into a music club, and naming it after Terrell’s band, a funky rhythm and horns ensemble.  The club was immensely popular for several years, especially with locals.

Several years ago, my friend Matt Miller interviewed Freddie Terrell about his musical career, especially the years he fronted the Soul Expedition band.  I operated the camera during this interview.  Matt’s full interview with Terrell can be found in the April/May 2007 issue of Wax Poetics.

Movie Made Atlanta #2: Escape from New York at the old Omni MARTA station

September 3, 2009

In the novel The Moviegoer, the character Binx Bolling describes a phenomenon he calls “certification”:

Nowadays, when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him to live. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.

What if a place in one’s hometown is depicted in a scene that is ultimately deleted from the final cut of a movie?  Is the place still certified?

Driving with the Doctor #1

August 28, 2009

The esteemed Dr. Bethune Workman takes us on a driving tour from Midtown to Downtown.

Sam Heys on the Winecoff Hotel fire

July 14, 2009

Undoubtedly, one of the most tragic incidents in Atlanta history is the Winecoff Hotel fire, which occurred on the morning of December 7, 1946.  119 people lost their lives, and it’s still the worst hotel fire in U.S. history.

Sam Heys and Allen Goodwin wrote the definitive book about the fire, The Winecoff Fire: The Untold Story of America’s Deadliest Hotel Fire.  Allen maintains a website about the fire and its aftermath, and the site contains lots of photos and anecdotes about the victims and survivors.

Sam graciously met me in front of the site of the old Winecoff Hotel to provide the basic story of the fire, including a discussion of the famous photos of the fire taken Georgia Tech grad student Arnold Hardy.  After twenty-five years of neglect, the building re-opened in 2007 as the boutique Ellis Hotel.

Movie Made Atlanta #1: Body and Soul on Decatur St.

May 19, 2009

This segment focuses on the sections of the film Body and Soul (1925) that were shot on Decatur Street.

—note:  The swishing sound in the background is my three-week-old son Rocco sucking on his pacifier.  I was holding him when I recorded the voiceover.

Wayne Daniel on the old City Auditorium

April 17, 2009

Wayne Daniel wrote Pickin’ on Peachtree, the definitive history of country music in Atlanta.  In this segment Wayne talks about a key venue in the early country music scene in the city, the old City Auditorium, where the Georgia Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention was held between 1913 and 1935.

Doug Richards on Steve Polk Plaza

March 30, 2009

Doug Richards was a tv reporter in Atlanta for over twenty years.  He now runs a full-service production company and also writes a funny and insightful blog about Atlanta tv news.  In this segment, he talks about the Steve Polk Plaza and its connection to local tv news.