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Atlanta time travel made possible through photo collection

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Then-and-now images show the reshaping of Atlanta since 1846

Atlanta of yore.
Atlanta of yore.
© Atlanta Journal-Constitution via GSU

Atlanta is a city of change, with construction constantly reshaping the urban realm. Buildings rise, buildings fall, and as the population of the city grows, so too has the skyline.

Now, RentCafe has assembled 10 amazing, interactive “then-and-now” photos to highlight how Atlanta has been reshaped over the last 150 years. While some scenes are hardly recognizable, others illustrate how the city has actually saved some of its oldest structures.

Off to the visual journey:

^ The first view is of Margaret Mitchell Square at the intersection of Peachtree and Forsyth Streets in the heart of downtown. The Candler Building in the background still stands today and is being converted into a hotel, while the narrow tower in the foreground of the 1938 image was reduced to just three stories to prevent its collapse during construction of Peachtree Center MARTA Station, which sits below the site.

^ Nothing remains today from this view of Whitehall Street in 1864. Now known as Peachtree, the road is elevated over the rail lines that run below at Five Points.

^ While Woodruff Park is a welcome piece of green among the high-rises of downtown Atlanta, the area was not always a park. The photo from 1906 shows the structures that once filled the blocks, across from the recently reborn Flatiron Building

^ Before there was the Modernist Equitable Building, downtown had a grand old classical Equitable Building — the first skyscraper ever built in the city. The photo from 1970 shows the building just a year before it was demolished to make way for an expansion of the Trust Company Building, which is now becoming home to GSU’s Creative Media Industries Institute.

^ Freedom Parkway was carved through the eastern side of downtown in the 1970s, with the intention that it would become an interstate. While the freeway revolts halted that, the road construction provided this clear vantage point to take in the changing downtown skyline from 1986 to 2016.

^ Atlanta’s penchant for demolition is on full display in the images of Park Place just south of Edgewood Avenue in downtown from the 1920s and today. Nothing remains of the classical buildings — or the thoroughfare’s original name, Pryor Street — that once lined the street in what is now the heart of GSU’s campus.

^ Today, North Broad Street in downtown is a tree-lined corridor frequented by GSU students just off Peachtree Street. But back when the first photo was taken around 1910, the street was a busy commercial corridor, clogged with streetcars and automobiles. Traffic clearly isn’t a new thing in Atlanta.

^ Tech Tower has been a fixture on the North Avenue campus of Georgia Tech since it was constructed in 1888. The 1909 photo shows the classical campus, complete with a recreation field along North Avenue. Today, Bobby Dodd Stadium towers over the quad.

^ Henry Grady was one of the most influential writers in Atlanta following the Civil War, coining the moniker the “New South.” A statue of him was erected on Marietta Street in front of what then served as Atlanta City Hall. While the building is long gone, and the corridor connecting Centennial Olympic Park to Five Points looks very different, the statue remains.

^ To understand just how much the core of the city was reshaped by major construction projects from the 1930s to the 1950s, one must go airborne. The photo from 1940 shows the construction of Techwood Homes — the first public housing project in the country — and notably missing is the interstate slicing through where Williams Street runs. In the modern picture, the impact of the Olympics is clearly visible, with Centennial Place Apartments, Centennial Olympic Park, and the former Olympic Village dominating the view.