Sunday, March 7, 2010

Abandoned: Atlanta

(A continuation of my abandoned cities posts)

Atlanta is the third most abandoned city which really is counting the houses people have ditched on, but that also affects surrounding businesses, as well. The city saw a huge sprawling growth for decades and when the recession hit, a nosedive in occupants. Although most of the abandoned places are homes, there are also older institutions that have been abandoned over time including mental institutes, railroad bridges, and government facilities.

The interesting aspect of abandonment is that regionally it differs in the type and quality of the remaining structure. Whereas mold might be a huge issue in the Northwest, here in the Southwest, rattlesnakes, killer bees, black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders are big problems. In places like Atlanta, their biggest invader is kudzu. This crazy vine introduced to the US and adoring the warm wet weather, has a way of growing so extensively, it covers everything that sits still, including buildings. Here’s an excellent page with lots of pictures of kudzu engulfing everything in its way. As well, Atlanta might be more susceptible to rusted crumbling metal and rotted and termite-infested wood.

There are some potential solutions being explored by some savvy business people. Robert Silverman is a redeveloper of historic buildings. He decided to convert the old Bass High School into 133 luxury loft apartments, creating the most expensive loft rental spaces in Atlanta. I highly suspect that this is the turn for many building built post-asbestos era, but those pre-asbestos, it's hardly worth the expense, better to tear it down and start over again. Check this page for the Atlanta Prison Farm, a huge complex that is abandoned and supposedly engulfed with kudzu.

It seems to me that Atlanta has a diverse enough industry that it can rise above the troubles. The problem is going to be bringing home prices into a reasonable level again. Anyone who fled the ridiculous traffic and abandoned their homes more than likely realized it was time to find a new city. I'm a believer that from bad comes good and one thing about these economic times is that people are thinking more about being able to be mobile, acquire less "things" and be flexible with their lives instead of feeling stapled down to one city forever. It's that kind of seeking and exploration that had us settling the West in the 1800s.

No doubt the next boom for our economy should come from home renovation. All those abandoned houses were gutted of their parts and once they sell for a pittance, folks will have the cash flow to actually spruce them up. If you ever wanted to buy stock in a home improvement store, Atlanta is another example of why you should.


  1. i love those pictures! all the covered houses have that neat mysterious look to them, dont they?

  2. Hey Libby Girl;
    Yeah, I really love kudzu. I know it's the curse of the South, but it's just wicked cool. I love when it engulfs things and it's like the forest is reclaiming the manmade structures. It makes you understand how those pyramids in Central and South America are still being uncovered all these centuries later, they look so much like hillsides covered in plants.

  3. Kudzu really does gobble up everything in it's path. And you should finish that painting! :)

  4. Becca;
    As soon as I get around to picking up oil paints again, I will probably finish the painting. It's been taunting me ever since I gave up painting. I had nowhere to store the paintings I was making, so I just gave up the hobby. I kind of miss it and I've made some spaces in the house now to be able to store just the best ones under the beds. Inventive, huh?

  5. Since my sister Monica lives there,it would be nice to visit and check out some of these places.

  6. Julie;
    The majority of its abandoned are homes, but some of the institutions are pretty cool. That prison camp was pretty wickedly awesome.

  7. Kudzu is an awesome natural force in the South.

    I spent much of my childhood in Atlanta and our family home had a Civil War era building foundation including mostly-upright chimney on the property, deep in the pine woods.

  8. Pangs;
    Atlanta sure saw The War. I would love to touch the foundation of a place like and feel the history. I may be from Virginia (far north for the south) but I consider myself a southern gal all the way through. Kudzu is one of those things people curse, but in a strange way it's become the southern symbol.

  9. Kudzu has been called "the plant that ate the South"

    Funny! Word verification is eatte