Monday, January 23, 2012

Peters Street Depot

One of the inspirations for driving around Atlanta and photographing 19th century industrial buildings was found at the Brookhaven library way back in 1987, a fantastic book with the unglamorous title "Atlanta Historic Resources Workbook". Published by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission in September 1981, the book painstakingly details the history and significance of hundreds of structures and historic districts around town, everything from the Fox Theatre and the Flatiron Building to houses and old bottling plants. I managed to find a well worn ex-library copy on Alibris a few years ago. It's a fascinating time capsule and profiles many historic structures that have since been demolished.

One of the more obscure entries in the book was this nondescript freight depot in the Castleberry Hill area.

The old depot is the white brick building on the left of this photo I took from a parking lot off of Spring Street on January 10, 1990. A fire destroyed the structure in 1992.

Something I never anticipated when to returning to sites I had photographed two decades earlier is the astonishing proliferation of chain link fences. There are now fences on bridges, fences underneath bridges, fences blocking access to bridges, fences around parking lots, fences around vacant lots, fences along the railroad, fences around buildings, fences across driveways, fences across roads. Fences, fences everywhere! One such fence kept me from recreating the same perspective of the above photo, but this is pretty close. January 5, 2012.

A much better view of the old depot can be found on this 1989 postcard of the former Atlanta & West Point engine 290. Locomotive #290 was built in 1926 for the Atlanta & West Point and operated with the New Georgia Railroad during the late 1980s and early '90s. It also appeared in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes (...not to mention Decompositions) Anyway, #290 is now on display at the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, GA.

Date of top photo: September 12, 1989
Bottom photo: January 5, 2012

An interesting comparison of bird's eye views from 1892, 1919, and 2010. What is striking about the first view is how self contained this area appeared to be in 1892. Before the advent of the automobile, houses, businesses, and industries were, by necessity, within walking distance of each other. The railroad depot was the focal point of the neighborhood. In the modern view, those relationships are completely lost.


  1. Fantastic stuff Zeus. Stuff like this is what makes me love Atlanta, even if it's for things that are long gone. Good to know people like you can dig them up to light.

  2. Thanks! This has been a fun project.

  3. Thanks. I've stood there, where the depot was, dog park now I guess. Future home of if the times improve

  4. Thanks for that link. Interesting.

  5. My great-grandfather was James E. Raley, Sr. who founded Raley Bros. He would be so proud that you have worked so hard to document his small part of Atlanta history. A few years ago my mother, J.E. Raley, Jr.'s daughter, took the family to Peters Street to see the building. We did not know until then that it had burned in 1992. I had never seen the building until your website. Your work means more to me than you could know. Thank you so much. Sincerely, Candice Ellis

  6. After receiving the spring 2010 issue of Classic Trains magazine I got Interested in the true color pages of the magazine. On these pages stood this building along with some trains. I think it's also interesteng for You because it's a picture of this depot in 1957. I looked for info of this depot on internet because I want to make a model of it for my modelrailroad. I like the way You made Youre blog. Thanks for the info, greetings Martien. Here is the link to the picture I have made from the magazine: