The Birth of Black Neighborhoods

Prior to the Civil War, the city of Atlanta was divided into five wards. Black settlements were established in the first, second, and fourth wards. Settlements include Jenningstown, Summerhill, and Shermantown in the fourth ward.

During Reconstruction, Atlanta saw an increase in its African American population. This increase was due to the growth of slave labor during the Civil War. After the war, Atlanta experienced a surge of free Black migrants, which became the foundation for Black Neighborhoods.

Planning Units for Atlanta's Neighborhoods

Planning Units for Atlanta's Neighborhoods, 1975

Events in Atlanta’s history, such as the 1906 race riot, affected the formation and locations of Black neighborhoods. The 1906 race riot influenced where many African Americans would live and work and led to the growth or development of African American businesses in downtown Atlanta downtown. The violence of the riot towards Black people hastened the move of African American businesses from downtown that was already occurring in areas like Sweet Auburn. 1906 race riot and similar events throughout the 20th century coupled with the growth of African American population growth led to Black community and neighborhood formation.

This section of the exhibit showcases several of the neighborhoods that were established in Atlanta during and after Reconstruction and the early 20th century. It looks at the neighborhoods of Summerhill, Vine City, and the West End and what affected their growth and their current state. This section uses collections in the Archives Research Center to explore the neighborhoods of Summerhill, Vine City, and the West End.

The Birth of Black Neighborhoods