Photographic Legacy: Importance of Documenting the Past

Aerial view of downtown Atlanta, Georgia, 1905, AJCP338-035g.

Atlanta today is a transient, rapidly changing city. Often we’re in a race against time to save historic sites and buildings. Destruction through neglect, arson, or redevelopment can cause communities to lose defining landmarks that give a sense of place.

By collecting, maintaining and restoring historical photographs, we can help Atlantans recall how neighborhoods, sightlines, and buildings used to appear. We can also use photos to help make a case for buildings’ historical significance and placement on the National Register of historic places. Images taken at different points in time provide insight into a historical site’s evolution and details that can aid in assessing its significance and restoring it to its historical appearance.

Success Stories

These photos depict a few of Atlanta’s buildings that have been saved with the help of archival materials. Historical records such as photographs, manuscripts, documentation can be used to advocate historical significance, and to protect neighborhoods.


These photos feature iconic Atlanta buildings that now survive only in historical photographs. One of the most compelling of these stories is the Loew’s Grand Theatre, which is featured on the next page. 

Special Collections and Archives is taking on the challenge of caring for Atlanta’s photographic legacy through restoration, migration, and digitization of images on negatives, paper, CDs, and hard drives. We are committed to preserving the memory of the Loew’s Grand Theater and other Atlanta landmarks through our photographic collections.