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A SISTER'S PERSPECTIVE On Renewal: The Vine City/English Avenue Example

Updated: Mar 4, 2019

Renewal has been a common and controversial topic of Atlanta’s Vine City/English Avenue community for years dating back to early 1999 erection of the Historic Westside Village. While the impetus was always to improve the quality of the neighborhoods, the result proved to only subject the community to further marginalization.

The English Avenue community alone dates back to early 1881 when the neighborhood’s namesake organized the International Cotton Exposition adjacent to the railroad on the northeast edge of English Avenue. The goal of the Exposition was to “attract Northern investment to Atlanta by demonstrating the virtually unlimited potential for economic development and capital growth in the New South.”[1] Ten years later, his son began the development of the contemporary area of English Avenue just south of the Cotton Exposition site where the English Avenue School was opened in 1910 for Atlanta’s white working class. The population shift, often referred to as suburbanization, began to alter the demographic of the community after housing segregation became illegal in the early 20th century. Based on the research, it appears that the generational poverty existing today was precluded by the displacement of African Americans migrating into the community from the fourth ward section of Atlanta, a result of the great fire of 1917.

[1] Richard Becherer, “Bricks and Bones: Discovering Atlanta’s Forgotten Spaces of Neo-Slavery,” ACSA Annual Meeting 2012, , p. 440.

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