Last month, the AJC's Living Intown magazine ran a feature "The River Runs Through Us," and while the Chattahoochee River does run through the metro — forming the borders of the City of Atlanta, various counties and many municipalities — it's hard to argue that most Atlantans give the river a daily thought. Yet the 'hooch has long been a major piece of the puzzle in shaping the Atlanta we know today; the vestiges of that impact are still all around us in the names of roads and places across the metro. Crossing the river was big business in early Atlanta, and to illustrate this, we've mapped the legacy for you, after the jump. For the sake of brevity, we've limited the hunt to present-day Fulton County…
The Chattahoochee River runs through metro Atlanta, wending its way between the hills that surround the city, delineating city and county borders as it goes, largely unnoticed in daily life. Often, the most we hear about the river is the seemingly endless battle with Alabama and Florida over who the water belongs to. But the river provides more than just our water, with recreation spaces enjoyed by many Atlantans — especially as the summer weather transitions to fall. While the railroads brought Atlanta into existence, it is the Chattahoochee that, in many ways, sustains us. Today we can shoot across the river in a matter of seconds, thanks to the interstates and major roadways that connect the suburbs into Atlanta, likely contributing to our lack of consciousness of its waters. But back when the metro was an assortment of far-flung cities, small private ferries and bridges provided much needed access. And the map hints at that.
In a city that often excels at erasing physical history, it's interesting to see so much intact social history in the road and place names near the river. Many Atlantans utilize the infrastructure daily, likely with very little thought as to why it is there.
It's understandable that Atlantans take the Chattahoochee for granted. After all, when you think of great waterways in cities — the Mississippi in New Orleans, the Thames in London, the Seine in Paris, etc. — they are prominent fixtures and embedded in the identity of the city. The Chattahoochee isn't visible in the urban realm of Atlanta and does not offer the same prominence or importance of those in other cities. But it has played a profound role in shaping development, forming municipal and county boundaries, and was for many years a great physical barrier for Atlantans.
While we now fly across the river on Ga. Highway 400, Interstate 285, or Interstate 75 with ease, dozens of roads still bear the legacy of the river that runs through us.
For a more detailed account of the intricacies and history of these crossings, tune in to WABE 90.1 at 10 a.m. this Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a segment with Curbed Atlanta on City Lights with Lois Reitzes.
· A River Runs Through Us [Living Intown; AJC subscriber]Read More