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Blandtown, Atlanta: an oddly named neighborhood losing its identity

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While the name is steeped in history, Blandtown’s connotations aren’t a big selling point for developers. But one resident is embracing the area’s legacy in a visible way

The Blandtown Atlanta sign in Turk’s front yard. The neighbors probably love this guy.
The sign in Turk’s front yard. The neighbors probably love this guy.
Gregor Turk

Blandtown is a pretty dispiriting name for a developer hoping to boost the attractiveness of any place.

Sure, a development in Murderville or Deathburg would probably fare worse, but when trying to make a section of Atlanta sound exciting and worthy of high rents, conjoined synonyms for boring and small might not cut it.

However, just north of West Midtown — where land is at a premium and development is in full boom mode — sits Atlanta’s Blandtown. The neighborhood, named for freed slave Felix Bland, is in the path of progress, and as the older homes of the area get torn down, the longstanding name is seemingly going with them.

Resident and artist Gregor Turk has launched a crusade to preserve the legacy of the name and raise awareness of the neighborhood’s history.

And like any good crusade, there’s a massive art installation to prove just how serious the leader is.

Turk has constructed a nine-foot-tall sign heralding the “Heart of Blandtown” in his front yard on English Street.

Turk notes that his home is one of just three that remain on the street from the bygone days. Given the state of the neighborhood as recently as the early 2000s, however, the fate of the homes isn’t all that surprising.

With new subdivisions and even large multi-family projects rising in the area, developers have so far forgone the “Blandtown” name in favor of derivatives of “Westside” or “West Midtown.”

In fact, the nothern half of the Westside Provisions District — including Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, and JCT Kitchen — is located in Blandtown. But you probably won’t find that on menus.

In a press release, Turk muses that other, similarly named areas — among them Normaltown in Athens and Boring, Oregon — have embraced their monikers.

So, who knows, wouldn’t it be interesting (and ironic) to see developers embrace the Blandtown name as more investment comes to the area?