In the 1850s, Atlanta’s Zero Mile Post was planted downtown, marking the terminus of the Western & Atlantic Railroad—essentially the true heart of the city.
Since then, the post had resided beneath the Central Avenue bridge in South Downtown’s Gulch, a desolate pit of parking lots and railroad tracks.
Until now, that is.
This was done with the permission of the Georgia Building Authority, which agreed to a five-year renewable license agreement with the Atlanta History Center, allowing the museum and research center to “preserve and interpret” the Zero Mile Post however it sees fit, according to Atlanta INtown.
The abrupt relocation of the historic artifact caught preservationists off guard, causing some to fight back against the move.
We're stunned by today's news that the Zero Mile Post was, without public announcement or input, uprooted from the spot in Downtown where it has stood since 1850 and transferred to the Atlanta History Center.— ThreadATL (@ThreadATL) October 30, 2018
Please sign this petition to return it!https://t.co/vnsWdOotS5
Atlanta preservationist and architect Kyle Kessler launched a Change.org petition vying to bring the Zero Mile Post back downtown.
“This historic stone that had withstood the forces of war, nature, and ‘progress’ was unceremoniously uprooted to become just another artifact in a museum,” he wrote. “Atlanta’s oldest landmark has been reduced to a mere trophy.”
Although the post—before it was brought to Buckhead—was housed in a downtown train depot that’s slated to be demolished, Kessler said there’s no reason it should have left the neighborhood.
With zero public input, Atlanta's Zero Mile Post has been uprooted from its publicly-owned home and moved to a private institution. From 1850 until this past weekend it stood in the same spot, where it used to mark the center of the city.— Darin Givens (@atlurbanist) October 29, 2018
I'm beyond madhttps://t.co/DykXqMk9BU
More than 200 people have signed Kessler’s petition, which was created on Monday.
A replica post is expected to stand downtown in the original’s place, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. But that hasn’t appeased people who say there should have been some community engagement before moving the historic icon.
“With zero public input, Atlanta’s Zero Mile Post has been uprooted from its publicly owned home and moved to a private institution,” wrote urbanist Darin Givens, co-founder of ThreadATL, on Twitter.
“I’m beyond mad,” he added.
The Zero Mile Post will once again be on public display starting on Nov. 17, when the Atlanta History Center’s “Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta” exhibit debuts.
This story was updated on October 30, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. to clarify that the Zero Mile Post had not moved prior to its relocation to Buckhead, as other outlets had reported.