Friday, February 17, 2012

Creating Atlanta and Then Distroying It

Yesterday we went to a lecture at the Marietta Museum of History on “Atlanta, the Unexpected City” given by Rob Hill.

Rob Hill and his father run the real estate firm Hill Corporate Partners of Atlanta. His trade is real estate and his heart is in the history of Atlanta, which he has done well at discovering and explaining how things in Atlanta came to be.

His power point execution onto a big screen showed how first Atlanta came to be as a meeting of three railroad tracks. First called Terminus, then Marthasville, after the daughter of then Governor Lumpkin, Atlanta roads led to and from the railways. He showed early Atlanta maps to explain what he was saying.

Did you know why Marietta Street in Atlanta is so wide? It was not to accommodate the traffic, but was designed to have a wide open space between a certain household and the post office. The household was owned by a man who owned the land in that area who wanted a clear space between his house and the post office. When he had mail, the post master would have some type of visual signal outside alerting him to come get his mail.

When Sherman came to Atlanta they more or less ran all the civilians out for a while. He and his troops occupied the city for several months. During this time there were many photographers of the Matthew Brady breed that came to capture history. Now those pictures are available, many at the library of congress. In his studies of these pictures, Rob found background details that were unnoticed by the naked eye, showing good human interest stories as part of his lecture. For instance, in one picture is a paper sign nailed to a wall telling of a benefit dance and concert. This sign was sponsored by the invading Yankees. The funds raised were to go to a surviving widow and the 6 children she was left to raise. Imagine the enemy helping out the enemy! The lady they were helping was Southern, a part of the enemy they were there to squash. Rob's personification of the sign brought the story to life.

Another picture of vast piles of rubble in Atlanta showed several Union soldiers clustered around something. Zooming in, he could see they were surrounding something with holes or openings. With some research he found it was a contraption to show illuminated pictures, a forerunner of the View Master. And why would soldiers, hundreds of miles from their homeland be cluttered around a machine to look at a box with pictures? What kind of pictures? Do you think they were waterfalls? No, Rob showed an example of the kind of pictures that was shown in those contraptions – they were scantily clad women; the forerunner of the adult XXX store.

At the top of this post is a famous picture of the Slave Auction company on Whitehall Street in Atlanta. There is a Union soldier sitting on the curb out front. Rob stated this photo was partially staged. When he zoomed in on the soldier you could see he is a black soldier, which proves it is staged. Sherman had no black soldiers in his command.

Rob Hill also had pictures to explain the reasoning behind the creation of Underground Atlanta.

It was an enjoyable and educational hour.

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