DHC Lunch & Learn Series: The History of the Streetcar in Atlanta

From the DeKalb History Center

The History of the Streetcar in Atlanta & DeKalb County. Presented by Patrick Sullivan. Patrick Sullivan will present a talk on the establishment, growth, and decline of streetcars and inter-urban commuter lines in the Atlanta area with a special focus on the development of the transportation network in DeKalb County.

The history of the streetcar is as large and as colorful as history gets. Expansive, fast (for their time), noisy, and romantic, they were much loved by urban Georgians. Businesses, neighborhoods, recreational sites, and schools were tied into the new transportation system that provided movement to places people wanted or needed to go. Social relations changed as they brought white and black riders into close contact within the Jim Crow South. While the trackless trolley and personal automobile would bring an end to their use, funeral parties held in many cities honoring “last trolley rides” testified to their strong hold on the traveling public.

In 2011, the Georgia Department of Transportation hired New South Associates to develop a context for resources associated with Georgia’s historic streetcar systems, with an emphasis on the metro Atlanta area. The purpose of the report was to provide GDOT staff and preservation professionals with identification guidelines for streetcar-associated resources when they are encountered during road construction projects and a framework for evaluation of their historic significance and eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Patrick Sullivan is a historian and architectural historian with New South Associates in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He received his M.A. in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University in 2007. Over the course of his seven-year career at New South Associates, Mr. Sullivan has worked on a number of architectural and historic resource surveys throughout the eastern United States for clients that include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the General Services Administration, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the National Park Service among others.

  • November 13, From Noon to 1:00 p.m.
  • Historic DeKalb Courthouse, Second Floor, 101 E. Court Square
  • Free – bring your lunch!

Photo courtesy of the Wren’s Nest

4 thoughts on “DHC Lunch & Learn Series: The History of the Streetcar in Atlanta”

  1. is there a map online of where the street car went around decatur? i’ve heard it went through lenox place neighborhood before

    1. I used to live in Lenox Place. The story I heard was not that the streetcar went through the neighborhood but that the streets were so narrow because it was a streetcar neighborhood. This meant th.t most people living there used the streetcars to commute to work and therefore there weren’t a lot of cars in the neighborhood.

  2. DudeinDecatur and Green Tea,

    As part of our study with the GA DOT, we have developed a series of map layers for each of the streetcar companies that have operated in the metro Atlanta area. This information will will soon be available on-line in a website that our company (New South Associates) is developing with the DOT and as downloadable GIS data.

    For those who are interested in taking a look at the context report, you can download a .pdf copy under the Historic Contexts category at:




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