From Streetcar Suburb to Stadium Site

A timeline of Turner Field and environs

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Summerhill is settled by emancipated slaves. The community’s early institutions include Allen Temple AME Church. Summerhill is home to the city’s first public elementary school for black children.

Railroad workers settle in the area that later becomes known as Mechanicsville. As streetcar service extends down Capitol Avenue, Peoplestown develops as a commuter “suburb.”

Piedmont Hospital is founded—with its original building located where the Orange Lot is today.

Pencil factory manager Leo Frank, who lived at 68 Georgia Avenue, is lynched.

As land is cleared for highway construction and an “urban renewal” program, 3,800 families are displaced.

Construction starts on the $18 million Atlanta Stadium; it’s completed in a year.

After relocating from Milwaukee, Hank Aaron and the rest of the Atlanta Braves play their first season in their new hometown; that fall the stadium also hosts the first game of the Falcons NFL expansion team.

A suspected auto thief is shot by police, and in response several thousand people riot in Summerhill.

The Model Cities program, intended to create new housing in the area, is shut down after proving to be a flop and resulting in a 15% net loss of housing.

The body of Yusuf Bell, one of the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children, is found in an abandoned school building in Summerhill.

Douglas Dean hosts a Summerhill reunion; the neighborhood of 20,000 has shrunk to 2,000. From 1960 to
1990, Mechanicsville loses more than 70% of its residents; Peoplestown more than 60%.

Atlanta is awarded the 1996 Games. Some residents create community development corporations and work with the city, Olympics organizers, and developers; others protest the stadium location.

The Falcons move to the new Georgia Dome.

Townhomes, houses, and apartments are built in the stadium neighborhoods; Georgia Avenue gets new streetlights in preparation for the Olympics.

The Atlanta Braves win the World Series.

During the Olympics, a new arena hosts track; the old one is used for baseball.

Despite a push to turn the old stadium into a soccer venue, it is imploded. The Olympic arena is retrofitted as Turner Field.

Fanplex—a $2.5 million recreation authority–owned entertainment complex—opens; it will close before the end of 2004.

The city creates the Stadium Neighborhoods Tax Allocation District and updates development plans for the area.

Invest Atlanta issues “request for ideas” for redeveloping parking lots.

The Braves’ current lease expires.

This article originally appeared in our July 2013 issue.

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