October 1903
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Day October 20, 1903

Changing Street Names.

The Constitution: Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, October 20, 1903

The protest made by Mr. Forrest Adair to the city council yesterday against the frequent and often capricious changing of the names of streets in the city is deserving of that body.

The value of certainty in the metes and bounds used in describing real estate grows in importance with the growth of the city. The activity of the real estate market is dependent in large measure upon the accuracy and permanency of such descriptions, the more so as the city fills up with new citizens. They are unacquainted with our old maps and the metamorphoses of local names. They look only to the chain of titles and, as Mr. Adair says, they frequently refuse a property because of the vagarious changes of the names of streets that occur in consecutive deeds.

A yet greater reason why council should be slow to change the names of our thoroughfares is the fact that already the names of landmark streets have been changed, the honors paid to pioneer citizens obliterated and names that should have remained linked with localities and thoroughfares crossed off our map for fanciful and unsuggestive substitutes, in some cases these changes have almost amounted to a profanation of the fathers of the city. The names of former mayors, even of that one who heroically bore the interests of the city in the awful days of Sherman’s siege and occupancy, the noble James M. Calhoun, have been sacrificed for meaningless titles.

Change Whitehall street to “Commerce avenue,” Marietta street to “Bucephalus boulevard,” and Peachtree street to “Elite avenue,” and by those three simple substitutions that can be adopted in three minutes in council, the Atlanta of history and of common knowledge and pride throughout Georgia and the union will be obliterated.

Patriotic and commercial reasons, especially the important one of making readable and acceptable titles to real estate, are plenty enough to cause council to deliberate long before it takes down the names of well-known streets to replace them with the tony and pride-tickling titles that have been invented without rhyme or reason. We trust the city is at the end of that sort of uncalled for vandalism.

SMITH STREET HAS NEW NAME

The Constitution: Atlanta, GA

TUESday, October 20, 1903

Was Changed to Whitehall Place by Council Yesterday.

The name of Smith street, from Whitehall street to Glenn street, was Monday afternoon changed by council to Whitehall place and if Mayor Howell gives his approval to the measure it will become a law.

Forrest Adair, for the real estate men, spoke against the change of name, but the members of the body believed that the wishes of the residents of the street should be regarded.

The report of the street committee, which was favorable in changing the name of Smith street to Whitehall place, having been read, the privilege of the floor was extended to Forrest Adair, who spoke against the custom of changing the names of the streets. A number of real estate men and attorneys were present.

Mr. Adair said:

“Before final action is taken on the report of the street committee to change the name of Smith street to Whitehall place I desire to present certain facts taken from the record in reference to the custom or habit into which the council has fallen of making such changes.

“In doing this I wish to distinctly disclaim any desire to personally oppose any of the residents of that street. I am interested in the ownership of property on the street, and will aid them in any movement that may lead to its improvement.

“I have prepared from the records a list which I herewith present to you, showing that four hundred and forty-seven changes have been made in the names of streets, several of them having borne as many as eight different names.

“This causes serious trouble and inconvenience to the real estate agents, attorneys and to the property owners themselves in trading titles when real estate is sold, it being well nigh impossible to convince one from the record of the correct identity of the lot so variously described.

“My firm has just sold a piece of property on the corner of Walton street and Tabernacle place, and the deed of the present owner describes it as being on the corner of Walton and Harris streets, while the next deed in the chain of title describes it as being on the corner of Foundry street. I have actually known of titles being rejected on account of the doubt as to identity.

“How many of you gentlemen of the city council can now direct a stranger to the six Peachtree streets? We have the one peerless Peachtree, and in addition, West Peachtree, Peachtree place, West Peachtree place, Peachtree road and East Peachtree terrace, which, however, has recently been changed back to its original name, because no one can find it.

“Smith, the street now under consideraytion, has been variously known as Stephen, South, Simpson, Newman and Gate City.

Named for a Pioneer.

“This street was named for an honored pioneer citizen, Mr. Windsor Smith, who, in the ante-vellum days, together with the Colliers, Jones, Loyd, Calhoun, Joseph Thompson, Richard Peters and others, were by their brain, industry and enterprise helping Marthasville to discard her swaddling clothes, thereby making this great city of Atlanta a possibility.

“In 1861, just as the darkness and gloom of a civil war appeared on the horizon, Mr. Smith died, and ten years later his friends and neighbors, who knew of his value and worth to the community, paid to his memory a tribute by giving one of the cities arteries of trade his name.

“The others were in like manner honored by those who thought it fitting to in some way carry down to after generations the names of the fathers of our beloved city.

“One by one, and for no good reason, in order to gratify the whim of the residents, whose minds are as vacillating as the winds, you have ruthlessly taken away this honor and shattered the only monuments to many of them.

“Calhoun was changed to Piedmont and absolutely no benefit has been derived therefrom.

“Loyd to Central avenue, and lots on that street bring no more per front foot.

“Collins to Courtland, and yet Maison de Joie still flourish furnishing superior facilities for our sons to prostitute their persons, debauch their souls and cut each other down in midnight drunken brawls.

“You robbed Joseph Thompson, the father of Mrs. Richard Peters, Mrs. Thomas M. Clarke, Joseph and Edgar Thompson, of the tribute paid to him because, by your permissions, the street had become disreputable.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and Madison avenue today with its cess pools and slimy sewers of men’s passions, its supurating sores, its reeking ulcers on the social body, emits its stinking odors as high toward the heavens as Thompson street ever did.

Clean the Streets.

“If our only monuments of marble and bronze, erected to Hill and Grady, were to become damaged or discolored, would you change their names or cleanse them? In all respect to you gentlemen, I say that your duty was to remove the stain from the streets rather than efface the tribute to the memory of the grand men who had been thus honored.

“In West End, near my home, are two streets named for the two heroes, Lee and Gordon, and on the north side, Forrest avenue, named for the recklessly valiant genius, whose name I am proud to bear.

“A councilman who would even suggest a change of these names would bring down upon himself the condemnation of his constituents, and the resolution if read in this chamber would be drowned with hisses.

“The names of these heroes are reverenced by us because they led in the fight for principles and for a cause we love and yet I say to you that in the battle of building up our city and its enterprises, Thompson, Calhoun, Colliers, Smith, Peters and others fought just as valiantly, ever ready to lay upon the altar their labor, their fortunes or their lives.

“I submit that aside from the legal authority with which you may be clothed, viewing this matter in its broader sense of right and justice, you really have no right to make such changes, and I apeal to you in behalf of the families of these pioneers who did more for our city than any man who lives today and in behalf of the business men and citizens at large, to put a stop to this absolutely unnecessary and confusing custom of changing the names of streets.”

Councilman Winn, who presented the resolution changing the name of Smith street, stated that he had done so because the residents of the thoroughfare had requested him to have the name changed.

The report of the street committee was adopted and the name of Smith street from Whitehall to Glenn streets, will therefore be known in the future as Whitehall place if the mayor approves.