Public Domain Theater (a random childhood memory)

When I was a kid in the early 1980s, the public library had a children’s movie program once a week during the summer. My mom, and I think most of the other parents who took advantage of it, would drop us off at the library and go do her shopping or whatever other errands she needed to run, while we sat in a darkened wing of the library and watched movies.

I’m guessing they were legally only allowed to show things that  were in the public domain. Because everything they showed was old. Some of it as old as the 1920s.

Sometimes they would show silent movies and cartoons, which was a problem because the audience included children too young to read. The older children were expected to read it out loud for the younger ones.

Many of the cartoons I saw there, I later learned were so old that they were significant in the development of animation!

Things I can remember seeing there:

  • Lotte Reiniger’s Cinderella – 1922 silent, black and white “cartoon” where all the characters are just black silhouettes. You can imagine how this confused the hell out of a bunch of 80s kids.
  • Max and Dave Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels – 1939 technicolor feature film, the first such released by a non-Disney studio. The high budgets of this and their only other feature, Mr. Bug Goes to Town, contributed to the Fleischer studio losing its independence and becoming part of Paramount.
  • Lev Atomanov’s The Snow Queen – 1957 animated feature from the USSR. The fact that this got an American dub release in 1959, with an all-star cast, seems like it must have been a triumph of Cold War diplomacy.
  • Some weird, silent (but color?!) thing with puppets.

Question to my librarian friends, do ya’ll still do stuff like this?

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s recording studio is now an anonymous warehouse in Doraville

Per Wikipedia:

Studio One was a recording studio, located in the northern Atlanta, Georgia suburb of Doraville. The address was 3864 Oakcliff Industrial Court, Doraville Ga 30340. It is now occupied by a non related business and used as a warehouse.

Check out the list of albums recorded here, it includes not only four Lynyrd Skynyrd album but also probably the earliest recording featuring Ronnie James Dio on vocals.

In the 1970s and 1980s Doraville was a haven for blue-collar white Southerners, aka rednecks. This was gone by the early 2000s, as much of the original population was displaced by immigrants.

This is what the address on the wiki page looks like today. I almost have a hard time believing it. The red car in the center of the picture is parked next to the door of number 3864.

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Union Hill Road: Cemetery, Ghost Roads, Skeleton Houses

Sometimes I use Ronald Reagan Blvd as an alternate to GA 400 between exits 11 and 12. This road goes through mostly vaporware developments – planned subdivisions, some of which don’t seem to have even started construction, others seem to have had some grading and nothing else. Lots of places where they put it in a turn off of the main road but it just dead-ends into a field. That sort of thing. This is literally where the streets have no name.

Recently I noticed, off to the west side of the road, what appeared to be a graveyard on a hill overlooking a construction zone. I decided to try to find it.

Now, on the map, it looks like you can get there via Union Hill Road:

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But, where I drew that red line across the road, that’s where you find this gate:

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So, clearly I’m not driving there. It was a nice day for a walk, though. You can  of see some traces (as in the next photo, on the right path) that this road was once paved, but the pavement is very much going back to nature. Maybe it will someday again be paved. I hope not.

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At the end of the road is another gate. This one has a “no trespassing” sign but the sign is facing the other way from where I came. I don’t know who they are trying to keep out from that direction.

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Beyond the gate is the cemetery:

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Most of the graves seem to belong to a James family, and on the topographical USGS map this is in fact marked as “James Cem”. The most recent date I saw was 1978, but they are mostly 19th century dates. Confederate flags are planted next to several that are Civil War era.

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This graveyard clearly is still maintained, someone cuts the grass here and those flags look pretty new.

After this, I decided as a bonus to explore some nearby old houses back on the road.

This is all that’s visible from the street, and really gives no clue:

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The inside of this building has some graffiti, but even that is dated from 2001!

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Dig this chair!

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The adjacent buildings here are nothing but frame. Only a little bit of siding remains, someone has removed the rest of it.

Now all the remains is the “bones”, facing out over the empty field.

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All those new neighborhoods being built nearby, some of those people in those houses must have kids. I hope those kids run around unsupervised in these fields and these woods and ruins, trespassing and risking injury. One can dream.

Flickr Album of these photos

That cemetery on Old Alabama Road

This was probably a lonely rural crossing of two dirt roads when the few local residents started to bury their dead here. Now it is jammed into a weird triangular lot surrounded by busy streets on all three sides. You may have driven past it.

I wonder at what period of history was Old Alabama Road actually the main way to get to Alabama.

Rainey is one of the names seen frequently here.

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Notice above, James A. Rainey appears to have outlived his wife by nearly 50 years. Long enough for tombstone design fashions to change quite a bit. Its fun to notice stuff like this. Did Mr. Rainey ever remarry? He was a very young widower, and he lived a long time afterwards. If he did remarry, I bet his second wife and their children are buried here too.

This grave of “2 infant daus. of Mrs. & Mrs. Bud Rainey, 1909” is surrounded by a type of moss that wasn’t growing anywhere else.

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Another common name is Garmon.

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Most of the graves appear to be cared for, but a few are in tall grass and one headstone had fallen over off its base.

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Some no longer have markings of any kind.

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Lastly, I have no idea if this that looks like a rock set up in the ground is a  primitive headstone for a very old grave, or just.. a rock. I also have no idea why someone left this bag next to it. I’m not sure I want to know.

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Forgotten and forbidden trails and parks of northwest Atlanta

Fort Peachtree

On Sunday I decided to visit the recently (2014) reopened Fort Peachtree park at the mouth of Peachtree Creek on the Chattahoochee. (Google maps link)

This park had been closed since sometime after 9/11/01 (or maybe even the 1996 Olympics) due to the threat posed by terrorists to the Atlanta River Intake, where the city draws water from the river. It is also very close to the R. M. Clayton sewage treatment plant and to Georgia Power’s “Plant McDonough” coal burning power plant.

There had once been at the Fort Peachtree park a recreation of the War of 1812 fort. This was built for the 1976 US Bicentennial. I have no idea if it still exists, as wherever it was is still not accessible.

What is accessible is the ability to drive through a scary looking “authorized personnel only!” gate on Ridgeview Road which now sits open from 8am to 8pm, and park next to small picnic pavilion and follow a trail down to the river.

You can stand at the mouth of the creek and try to imagine the Indian village of Standing Peachtree, but it’s not easy. The area is now dominated by chain link fences, “no trespassing” signs, and concrete industrial structures. The smell of sewage is inescapable.

On the other side of Peachtree Creek I noticed some men fishing in the Chattahoochee and could not see a way to get to where they were. There is no bridge over the creek downstream of Ridgeview Road. I tried calling to them but they did not hear.

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After leaving the park, I went and stood on the sidewalk of the Marietta Blvd/South Atlanta Rd bridge, looking at the river and the nearby rail bridges. Directly below me on the Fulton County side of the river I could see a concrete path, and lo and behold a worn footpath down the riverbank from the road to it. I hopped over the guardrail (it’s there to stop cars not people right?!) and scrambled down the bank.

What I found was a bike trail that I had memories of seeing around 2000, and which had also (I have since confirmed directly with the PATH foundation) been closed because of “terrorism”. Remaining signage called it the “Chattahoochee Trailway”. There is almost nothing about this trail on the Internet. Not on the PATH website, no newspaper articles about its closure, it is almost like it never existed.

The other end of the trail was where it had once been accessible from Marietta Road, only this part of Marietta road was no longer drivable, being gated off much further from the river. The old barriers to keep motor vehicles off the trail remained.

Now it was possible to walk around this stuff and follow the road further downriver. I decided to go ahead, since I probably could not get in any worse trouble than I was already in. Don’t try this at home kids, and all that jazz.

It lead to a view of the CSX railroad bridge, with Plant McDonough visible across the the river, that cannot be had any other way.

Returning to the trail, I followed it back under the road bridge to the old Seaboard Air Line rail bridge, and in doing so I met the men I had seen earlier fishing. They seemed concerned that I had “caught” them, as if I was someone who was supposed to be here.


 

Map of SOME roads called “Peachtree”

Not shown: West Peachtree Street, Peachtree Battle Avenue, Peachtree Corners Circle, and a million more. Boundary between Peachtree Street and Peachtree road is guesswork and probably wrong. The city makes no real distinction between them. The boundary has something to do with where the city limits were and/or where the pavement gave way to dirt, at some arbitary time in the past.

I think this might be the only map like this around; I would not have bothered to make it if I could have found one.

For Non-Atlanta people, when someone says “Peachtree” with no other qualifier, they mean Peachtree Street or Peachtree Road from downtown northward to the point where Peachtree Industrial Boulevard begins. Anything else requires more information to differentiate what you mean. (Those are also the only Peachtrees that are considered important, at least by people who live ITP. The others are just curiously named extensions)

Don’t get worked up about the blocky lines or inexactness. I made this thing in MS Paint for crying out loud.

Notice that from Norcross to the northeast, the older roads tend to follow the Eastern Continental Divide.

This is my source for information about the original Peachtree trail.

Mystery of the north Atlanta drive-in movie theaters.. SOLVED

So in the past I’ve had people tell me that the AMC movie theater on I-85 used to be a drive-in. But I’ve had other people tell me that the drive-in was at the current location of the Atlanta Silverbacks soccer park.

Thanks to the 1950s topo maps you can download from the GPS, it turns out they were both right. On the 1954 maps of “Northeast Atlanta” and “Chamblee” quadrant maps, there are two drive-in movie theaters, actually pretty close to each other. Competition must have been fierce.

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Also.. checkout proto-Spaghetti Junction!

Peachtree Rd. -Created from a Creek Indian Trail – History and GPS Maps

A trail known as the Peachtree Trail stretched from Standing Pitch Tree along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta to Fort Daniel located at Hog Mountain in present-day Gwinnett County. The Peachtree Road construction began in 1812. Many portions of present-day roads trace this route.

via Peachtree Road.

The page then proceeds to follow the route along those roads (which actually does not include any of Peachtree Street south of Buckhead), including portions that are no longer driveable and must be walked.

Dig the photos of the author walking them, too.

Just Gulch Things

This is the main area of the gulch, the biggest open-to-the-sky piece of ground in downtown Atlanta. As you can see it is currently a parking lot.



This area is directly in the middle of the triangle formed by the railroads at the center of Atlanta. In former times this would have been a tangle of yard tracks.

You would never know it but this is also on the Eastern Continental Divide.

Lots of people have ideas about what to do with this space. The Multimodal Passenger Terminal, if ever built, would use this space. There are also various plans to built elevated parks/plazas over the top of all this, up at the level where the viaducts run.

As it is, this space serves the city mainly as a place for tailgating during Falcons games.

These next are some pictures of the area between the Spring and Forsyth viaducts. Fairlie street runs into this parking lot from the north and ends. Cars frequently turn down Fairlie and then turn around once they realize it doesn’t go anywhere.







The two sets of tracks that split here form two sides of the “triangle”. This is one of the vertices. It is the only one that has a grade crossing that is still open to cars in modern times directly at the point of the triangle. It is also much simpler than the other corners, there being only two tracks here that have not been abandoned.

Formerly this was the location of Union Station, and the trackage would have been more complex. You can see unused rails in the dirt.

This connection called “circle Jubction” is the current mile zero of  CSX’s Western and Alantic subdivision. The historical “zero milepost” is located slightly east inside a building. I believe it was the post that moved, not the railroad.

Another notable thing, you can actually drive beside trains for a few blocks through the underground parking decks to the east of here, without having to pay to park. You would be driving (I think) on the original alignment of Wall Street (with the modern street directly overhead) and you will pass under the intersection with Peachtree. You should try that once before they do something to mess it up.

About that “air line” thing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaboard_Air_Line_Railroad#The_air_line_name

In the days before air travel air line was a common term for the shortest distance between two points: a straight line drawn through the air (or on a map), ignoring natural obstacles. Hence, a number of 19th century railroads used air line in their titles to suggest that their routes were shorter than those of competing roads.

The Seaboard never owned an airplane. In 1940 the railroad proposed the creation of “Seaboard Airlines,” but this idea was struck down by the Interstate Commerce Commission as violating federal anti-trust legislation.

During a spate of interest in aviation shares on Wall Street following Charles A. Lindbergh‘s trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, Seaboard Air Line shares actually attracted some investor curiosity because of the name’s aviation-related connotations; only after noticing that Seaboard Air Line was actually a railroad did investors lose interest.[2]

The CSX Abbeville sub (Tucker, Lilburn, etc) is the major remaining Seaboard line in the Atlanta area. The line west of Atlanta became the Silver Comet Trail.