Monday, May 28, 2007

Getting to Know the Concrete

I think I boiled my insides yesterday -- after the morning smoke cleared, I went to Jazzfest (This is Atlanta, not N.O.) and sat out in the sun, with a belly full of beer and wearing heavy jeans and a black shirt. Take it from me, kids, don't do that. You don't feel so great later on.

Today, to clear my head, I took a stroll along Edgewood Avenue -- one of Atlanta's more interesting streets, one that's undergoing a bit of a renaissance in parts -- and suited to my interests, one that has a bucketload of ghost signs.

When I first moved here, Edgewood was the definition of sketchy -- now, well, some parts still are, but others seem pretty vibrant and healthy. Art studios popping up, multiple places to eat, and parts are pretty peaceful and/or pretty.

This isn't technically a ghost sign -- the Atlanta Belting Company is still in existence, and has been (as signs inform us) since James L. Key was mayor, in the 1920s. Key, after being voted out of office, went on to pitch for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Edgewood (from what I can tell) went through several lean decades, but a few businesses seem to have survived -- mostly welding and auto parts shops. You can tell those that made it through because their signs lack an area code -- dating from the days when Atlanta had only 404, and not three or four codes for the metro area.

The center of the Edgewood neighborhood is the intersection with Boulevard. When I first moved here, it was a wasteland. Now, it's much better. The northwest corner, the former Danneman's grocery, is now host to a hip coffee shop (Javaology -- it's supposed to be really cool, I've never been. If I'd been thinking this morning, I would have waited to get coffee 'til I got down there, but I needed coffee to think). The northeast corner holds a vegan restaurant, and while I can't imagine any circumstances in which I'll be craving vegan food, it does look pretty nice.

The southwest corner is still empty -- the above building, the former Brown Hayes Department Store, has been up for lease forever. I thought I heard that something was going in, but the "for lease" signs are still up.

There's apparently some sort of historical significance to this building. Googling it turns up several references to official historical designation, and a connection to Martin Luther King Jr. -- however, just what that connection was, is never explained. Anyone know?

Another view of Brown Hayes, from across the street. It looks like it was part of a row of similar buildings, now orphaned. You see that a lot downtown.

This was shot from in front of Danneman's/Javaology. The sign at the very top of this post is out front, and hooray for Javaology for keeping it around. It looks really cool, even destroyed. There used to be two -- another around the corner on Boulevard -- but the second one got torn off during renovations, I guess. In any case, I'm glad this one remains.

There's still a Danneman's, which I presume is connected, out toward Decatur on College Avenue (I think). And Atlanta Time Machine has this photo of the original Danneman's (and a bunch more pics of Edgewood, on the downtown page).

This is the front to Cafe 458, run by the Samaritan House of Atlanta. I liked the old school diner design -- not sure if that's original to Cafe 458, or what was there before.

Not sure if Edgewood Animal (Clinic -- the third part of the sign apparently disappeared some decades back) is still in existence -- we're moving further west on Edgewood here, into more boarded-up shops. I think it is, though. An AJC article says that sign's been there since the 1920s.

Not sure about this, either -- all the signs are still up, and there's something indicating hours, but so are "For Lease" signs. In any case, with the graffiti, the religious theme, and the child's clothes left in the doorway, it's kind of a spooky effect -- even at 10:30 am.

Never saw this one before! An old shoe factory, located behind the Rolling Bones BBQ place (which is supposed to be great). It was built between 1908 and 1910, and at some point became an assisted living facility for the homeless and mentally disabled. Not sure if that's still the case.

Another view -- the Red Seal Shoe Factory and the J.K. Orr Shoe Company were one and the same. Apparently this building is on the National Register of Historical Places. The sign in the lower right seems to say that the shoe company's show room was on Auburn (one block north).

The Keen-Edge company has a bunch of destroyed metal signs around, that look like they've survived a hurricane. Despite that, though, the company (a knife- and tool-sharpening place -- though peeking through the windows there's all sorts of other stuff for sale) is still around, and has been for something like 70 years now. Pretty impressive.

At this point, I wandered back -- as I got closer to the highway overpass things were getting more and more depressing, plus my feet kinda hurt. "Don't wear sandals for a really long walk" probably goes hand-in-hand with "don't wear a black shirt and jeans and drink a lot of beer when you're sitting in the sun for a few hours," I guess. Live and learn.

1 comment:

nick said...

Javaology wins for best sign around... "Voted Best Coffee House at Boulevard & Edgewood" -- impossible to argue with...