Downtown Traffic Jam

A bustling European city?  Nope.

Downtown Atlanta (Decatur St @ Peachtree) – April 12, 1948.

I was originally looking for some cool historic pics of Decatur (a la Next Stop), however this one was just too interesting to pass up!  (Look at all the folks out on the sidewalks!  Is that a diner in the lower-right corner?  Is Burger Beer made from fermented meat?!)

Photograph from GSU’s most excellent Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections.  Definitely more of these to come.

31 thoughts on “Downtown Traffic Jam”


  1. The building on the lower right is the Olympia Building (otherwise known as the Coca Cola sign building). Looks like a Woolworth’s enclosed the now open portion of the building on the bottom floor.

  2. I just noticed that the white marble-looking Art Deco building in the middle ground says “The Bank of Georgia”. It looks like a long-lost sister of Greene’s (aka the city’s old post office).

    Pete, why do you think that’s a Woolworth’s? Would the word have been split between the two street facades?

  3. The building with “offices” “drugs” is still there.

    On second look, DM, I”m probably wrong. I saw the W-O but then that looks like an R, not WOL

  4. I think the “WOR….” sign building in lower right corner was either a clothing store or a bakery, based on faint childhood memories from the early 50s. Above it is what appears to be a loan company office. Just beyond the Olympia on the right is where Woodruff Park is today.

    1. That’s Wormser Hats in the bottom right corner – look closely and you can see the hats in the window.

  5. Burger Beer was made in Cincinnati and for many years was the sponsor of the Reds radio broadcasts. Every one began “You always know its Burger baseball time when you hear – ..

      1. Yes…and Christian Moerlein Brewing announced the re-launch of Burger beer in May 2009 (mostly in the Cincinnati area).

    1. This is true.

      The Atlanta Time Machine website has dozens of photos like this. The photos of Broad Street are particularly interesting to me since that’s where I spend most of my waking hours. Broad Street appears to be a much more pleasant area now than it was in the streetcar days. There are now trees when previously there were none at all. It’s now a two lane road, reduced from four lanes. The sidewalks are much wider sidewalks and there is almost no vehicle traffic.

  6. Neat. I walk up Peachtree from the 5 points MARTA station to my office in the Georgia Pacific Building. The traffic jam reminds me of the connector, minus street cars, restaurants, retail stores and sidewalks. I take that back, this picture is nothing like the connector.
    I wish the downtown was more vibrant in the evening, I would linger.

  7. This area of downtown is actually quite vibrant during the day, particulary when Georgia State is in session. I actually think there are more people actually walking on the sidewalks today than there were back in the 1940’s when this picture was taken.

    The sad part is that it becomes a ghost town after dark and on weekends.

    1. It’s true, but part of that ghost town thing at night has to do with several armed robberies that have occurred recently.

        1. Gee, I don’t know–when an area gets a reputation for panhandlers during the day and armed robberies at night it tends to cut down on the traffic overall.

          Unfortunately we don’t live in a Hopper painting anymore. [sigh]

          1. It’s long been a ghost town at night because very few businesses are, or were, open after 5 pm. It’s been that way as long as I can remember, and I’ve been working in this area for the last decade.

            Things are changing for the better, though. Until a few years ago, no businesses at all were open after five, except fast food places and convenience stores. Now there is Slice Pizza (which hosts live jazz), the Mark Nightclub (it has a new name now, which I can’t remember) and the Sidebar (which has a full menu, pool, air hockey, etc.), among others, all of which are open late. And with the new GSU dorms and classroom buildings, the number of people who live here is way up.

            Contrary to what you might think, people aren’t hiding in their homes because a bum stabbed a cop.

            1. I used to live two blocks from here in a really cool loft – not a neo-McLoft. I never left the area was dangerous, but it was no doubt gritty. My biggest whine was the lack of mid-priced, neighborhood-oriented restaurants. After 5:00, it was either the Ritz or Hooters.

              The crime in the area was definitely a step down from the armed wedding-ring/Rolex thefts from shoppers at Phipps Mall and there were no day time big screen thefts like those endemic to Oakhust.

  8. As you continue on your quest to find historic photos I thought of a book with some timeless images- African-American Life in DeKalb County, 1823-1970 by Herman ‘Skip’ Mason Jr. This book captures some wonderful images…happy hunting!

  9. DM, have you checked online at Library of Congress’ American Memory collection? Michael Rose at the History Center has some great books as well.

    Downtown was so beautiful back then.

  10. Oh, faint of heart. I have often been downtown at night, sticking close to 5 Points and only on Peachtree East. There are plenty of people down there at night who are harmless, and plenty of cops and security standing visibly around. There are always lots of tourists and business people milling around the restaurants, Fox theatre, etc. The night skyline is beautiful, and a trip to the lounge or restaurant at the hotel with the revolving top is something I always want to share with my visitors.

  11. Great picture. Another picture the erudite preservationist-type the read DM may be familiar with (poor grammar) – is the picture of the old main post office. A beautiful building that was eaten up with character and design. It was torn down and replaced with a pathetic, faceless dead drones that you can imagine.

    1. That photo is at the Ponce Place in Atlanta, just a block east of City Hall East. Right by the Home Depot. That lot in front is now a scooter dealer.

Comments are closed.