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.

Sears, Roebuck and Company on Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia, 1926. Its modern incarnations include Atlanta City Hall East and Ponce City Market, a high end multipurpose real-estate property, with condominiums, restaurants, and shops, AJCP300-001c.
Buckhead Theater, 1940s, LBGPF8-058h.
Baptist Tabernacle church and the adjacent parking lot, 1930s, today a popular music venue, AJCP338-037i..
Flat Iron Building or English American Building in Atlanta, 1900s, LBGPF7-005f.
Architect Scott Hudson and contractor Bronson Smith check the work on the Buckhead storefronts, April 12, 1990. Behind them is the Buckhead Roxy Theater, on the block for the storefront renovations, AJCP158-058av.
Buckhead Theater, 1940s, LBGPF8-058h.
Architect Scott Hudson and contractor Bronson Smith check the work on the Buckhead storefronts, April 12, 1990. Behind them is the Buckhead Roxy Theater, on the block for the storefront renovations, AJCP158-058av.
Trust Company of Georgia, new Monroe Drive branch building under construction, Atlanta, Georgia, November 13, 1961, LBCB108-060c.
Trust Company of Georgia; East Atlanta Branch; Northeast Expressway Branch, 1960s, LBCB108-073b.

LOST BUILDINGS

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. 

Exterior of the Kimball House with adjoining park, 1950s, AJCN144-069b.
Ponce de Leon Park stadium, 1950, LBCB114-072b
Terminal Station exterior seen from the street, 1940s. Terminal Station was opened in May of 1905 and was closed in June of 1970 and was demolished in 1971-1972, AJCP582-038i.
Tower Theater, 1947, LBGPF3-037g.
Exterior of the old Atlanta Public Library, also known as the Carnegie Library, 1930s, AJCP144-028b.
Atlanta’s Union Station, 1946, AJCP582-38j.

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.