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.
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 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.
Information from this section of the exhibit was obtained from the following sources:
- Lest We Forget: Atlanta's Disappearing Black Neighborhoods by Athlone G Clarke
- To Build Our Lives Together: Community Formation in Black Atlanta, 1875-1906 by Allison Dorsey
- "It’s going to take more than $45 million* to help Vine City," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- "Five years after Mercedes-Benz Stadium broke ground, is Atlanta’s Westside revival working?" Curbed Atlanta