The last remaining original Atlanta street lamp, first lit on Christmas 1855, will soon be removed and relocated to Buckhead after a history-packed 162 years in the heart of downtown.
According to WABE, the lamp—which survived the Civil War and multiple relocations throughout downtown in the ensuing years—most recently stood in Underground Atlanta. Now that the area has sold for redevelopment, the lamp has been donated by the city to the Atlanta History Center.
One of 50 lamps installed in the city in 1855, the black gaslight stood in what would ultimately become Underground. During the bombardment of Atlanta by Union troops in 1864, a shell fragment ricocheted off the lamp, striking Solomon Luckie—a free African-American barber in the city. Luckie had the unlucky distinction of being one of the first casualties of the siege on Atlanta.
His leg was amputated in hopes of saving his life, but he died hours later. Downtown’s Luckie Street may even pay tribute to Luckie, though history books indicate it is actually named for Atlanta pioneer Alexander F. Luckie.
Following the war, the surviving lamp was relocated to City Hall near Five Points. For the 1939 premier of Gone with the Wind, the lamp was dubbed the “Eternal Flame of the Confederacy” and was then moved around downtown through the years before being returned to its original location, by then under a viaduct.
Despite the historic significance, the lamp was valued by the city at less than $500, allowing it to be donated without more than a vote by the City Council.
Thankfully, in its new location, the artifact will be preserved and the full history—including the life of Solomon Luckie—will be displayed for generations to come.