Really Retro: Elevating Downtown Atlanta’s Historic South Broad Street with Murals and a Festival on Sat. Oct. 27

Posted on: Oct 25th, 2012 By:

By Kristin Halloran
Contributing Writer

As part of the second annual Elevate arts festival, the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs has brought internationally-recognized muralists Hense, Sever, Push, Tilt and Born to South Broad Street to brighten up a once-vibrant block in south downtown. The artists started work Monday Oct. 22 on the large-scale works of art intended to enliven the street and the neighborhood. Come check them out in person this Saturday from 4-8 p.m. at the Elevate South Broad Mural Festival, featuring performances by Pierre Rigal and Atlanta Music Project as well as music by award winner DJ Kemit.

The street will be closed to cars and other fun will include sidewalk chalk art, paint-your-own graffiti, and food from Munch food truck, which is headquartered just around the corner on Mitchell Street. Mitchell Street’s Hotel Row Historic District is well worth a peek if you have any interest in the glory days of Atlanta as a main crossroads for rail travel, when the spectacular Beaux-Arts style Terminal Station still stood just blocks away. In addition, the corner of the district hosts a mural that was created by another French street artist for the 2011 Living Walls Conference – go give the croc a belly rub and see if he purrs!

Formerly known by a variety of names, including Bridge Row and Market Street, this section of Broad Street was the 19th-century home of the city’s first market, fire station and cotton warehouses. In the early 20th century, it was known as Produce Row, and when Rich’s department store relocated to the corner of Broad and Alabama Streets, South Broad Street seemed destined to grow into one of the south’s great retail streets.

The buildings still standing today on South Broad Street reflect the area’s history as one of the original “mixed-use” districts; they’re mostly late 19th- and early 20th-century brick buildings constructed with retail storefronts at the ground level and offices or residential space above. But the growth was slowed in the ’50s and ’60s and reversed in the ’70s and ’80s by a cascade of factors. Among them were the decline of rail travel, the end of Atlanta’s streetcar system, bus rerouting that eliminated a large portion of the pedestrian traffic and the national trend of “urban renewal” in inner cities across the country.

Most of the buildings on this block are vacant now, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating. One has been the home of Miller’s Rexall – the store that provided the inspiration and cover image for Paul McCartney‘s album “Run Devil Run” – since 1965. Hense’s brightly-colored mural is going up on a building that is currently empty but was occupied by the Lewis H. Cottongim Seed Company from the 1930s to the 1980s. Built in 1895, it’s been boarded up for years, but features beautiful original brick detailing, as do several of the (even older) buildings across the street – the ones that are now emblazoned with enormous orange and yellow lettering.

The hope of Elevate organizers, area residents and business owners, and others who have been working together to revitalize the area is that the presence of this high-profile art in a setting that’s accessible to anyone will draw much-needed positive attention to South Broad Street. Despite the vacant spaces, a tightly-knit community exists here – one that understands the potential of the area and wants to see it fulfilled.

Courtney Hammond, project supervisor with the Office of Cultural Affairs, notes that Tilt’s flag mural incorporates the names of many of the people he has met on Broad Street, demonstrating his shared ownership of the piece with the members of this community. Hammond hopes Elevate brings people to the area who may not have visited before, showing them a piece of Atlanta that could someday soon become a new and exciting arts district. Come and experience it on Saturday!

Editor’s Note: All photos are provided by and copyright Kristin Halloran, 2012.

 

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This Week in Retro Atlanta March 7-13

Posted on: Mar 7th, 2011 By:

Wow, there’s a lot flying and frying this week Retro-wise in Atlanta from Phoenix Flies to Southern Fried Burlesque Fest to a host of pop and rock performers who got their start in the ’80s. Here’s your weekly guide to where and why to get out…

Monday March 7

Atlanta Preservation Center continues its annual The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Living Landmarks, so-named after the iconic symbol of Atlanta—the mythical bird that burns and is reborn similar to the city post-Civil War. The event which runs through March 20 offers a chance to take its neighborhood historical walking tours for free, as well as experience additional behind-the-scenes peeks inside Atlanta’s most famous buildings of eras gone by. Today’s tours include The Temple synagogue (1930), designed by legendary Atlanta architect Philip Trammel Shutze at 10:30 AM; the Gothic revival Peachtree Christian Church (1925) at noon; and Grant Park at 5 PM. Reservations are recommended. After dark, Joe Gransden & his smokin’ 16-piece orchestra present another Big Band Night of jazz at Café 290, featuring Sinatra, Bennett, Basie and Joe’s originals. Blues chanteuse Francine Reed is back at Cafe CircaNorthside Tavern hosts a Blues Jam.

Tuesday March 8

Phoenix Flies features the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center (AHC), site of lavish parties in the 1920s and ’30s; other AHC facilities such as the 1840 Tullie Smith Farm and Cherokee Garden Library and Kenan Research Center, which both house rare photos and documents of Atlanta history; neoclassic First Church of Christ, Scientist (cornerstone laid 1903); Hinman Home (1896), now Stonehurst Place Bed & Breakfast; Midtown’s The Castle; a general Historic Midtown tour; and Wimbish House (1906), one of the last remaining homes on Peachtree Street’s once posh Mansion Row now the headquarters of Atlanta Women’s Club.

Splatter Cinema presents 1980s vampire classic NEAR DARK at 9:30 PM. Read Mark Arson’s Retro Revue to see why you shouldn’t miss this hard-edged horror Western directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow and starring Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton. Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Fedora Blues plays Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack. Atlanta’s notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland.

Wednesday March 9

Phoenix Flies tours the Fabulous Fox Theatre and offers a rare peek inside The Herndon Home, a beautiful 1910 mansion built by Atlanta’s first African-American millionaire Alonzo Herndon which has many eclectic aspects thanks also to his drama teacher wife Adrienne who would put on theater productions occasionally on the roof.

Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at The Glenwood. Catch Joe Gransden every Wednesday night at 8:30 PM at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. The Hollidays bring on the blues at Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM. Cover band ’80s Band of Destiny is in the Atlanta Room at Smith’s Olde Bar.

Thursday March 10

Stonehenge Mansion, one of today's Phoenix Flies tours.

Another busy day for Phoenix Flies including tours of Fox Theatre; early Edgewood-Candler Park; Unseen Underground exploring parts of the old railway lines and viaduct system not usually open to public view; Burns Club (1910), a replica of Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birth home with Burns poetry reading; City Hall; Stonehenge Mansion & Sanctuary, a Gothic mansion in Druid Hills built as a residence but now houses St. John’s Lutheran Church; and the Georgia Capitol.

The first annual Southern Fried Burlesque Fest kicks off with the Atlanta premiere of award-winning documentary DIRTY MARTINI & THE NEW BURLESQUE, with a Q&A afterwards with director Gary Beeber and Neo-Burlesque Revival superstar Dirty Martini, at the Holiday Inn & Conference Center in Decatur. Be sure to read our fest preview here. Chickens and Pigs play Pho Truc in Clarkston from 8-10 PM. Listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as some trippy takes on iconic pop songs, just about every Thursday night at Trader Vic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum Lounge.  Breeze Kings and Chicken Shack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

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Weekend Update March 4-6

Posted on: Mar 4th, 2011 By:

Decided it might make more sense to run Weekend Update on Friday mornings than on Thursdays. You can still find out about Thursday activities, of course, in This Week in Retro Atlanta on Mondays. And of course, you can plan ahead for the whole weekend.

Friday March 4

Blair Crimmins.

Legendary pianist George Winston tickles the ivories at Variety PlayhouseBlair Crimmins and the Hookers provide a 1920s Vaudeville atmosphere during amagical Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX themed“Night of the Kraken” tying in with its current MYTHIC CREATURES: DRAGONS, UNICORNS AND MERMAIDS special exhibition which will be open for viewing that night. Also, hear they’ll be serving up special mythic-themed cocktails, including a Krakentini, featuring Kraken rum, Silver Scream Spookshow‘s Professor Morte will be a special guest, and there’s a costume contest planned, too, so don your most mythical duds. Just about to post a last-minute interview with Blair about the fanciful festivities, so be sure to check that out.

Celebrate Mardi Gras early and decadently, or rather BART-I GRAS, with the insane crew of Avondale Estates’ Bart Webb Studios and the sexy and sassy Syrens of the South, Big Easy cuisine provided by Zatarain’s, beads, masks, and the first Bart-i Bra contest where the best decorated bra will be judged to crown the first Queen or King of Bart-i Gras.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta – Feb. 28 – March 6, 2011

Posted on: Feb 28th, 2011 By:

The Retro action in Atlanta isn’t quite as sizzling as last week, making it a great time to check out some of the ongoing great weekly events that pay tribute to vintage jazz, blues, funk and country. Or catch up on your city history with The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Living Landmarks, starting Saturday.

Monday Feb. 28

It’s definitely worth braving the showers to hear the vivacious voice of blues chanteuse Francine Reed at Cafe Circa in the Old Fourth Ward. And there’s a Blues Jam at Northside Tavern.

Tuesday March 1

Atlanta’s notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins the best ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland.

Wednesday March 2

Every Wednesday in March, The Hollidays bring their modern take on classic ‘60s soul, garage, rock ‘n’ roll and obscure blues to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck plays the blues at Northside Tavern. Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at The Glenwood. Joe Gransden is off but jazz is still on the menu with Scott Glazer and the Real All-Stars at Jerry Farber’s Side Door. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven, starting at 8 PM. The Atlanta Burlesque and Cabaret Club meets at a new venue, Melton’s App & Tap, in Decatur, at 8 PM. Topic is how to do (and not do) a photoshoot with opportunity to speak to professional photographers and pin-up professionals.

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