What Atlanta Most Needs and How She Can Get It


By DR. J. HORACE MacFarland

Atlanta is sick, “pow’ ful bad off,” as Aunt Lizbeth might say, and what she needs is drastically recommended by the most eminent civic doctor in the country, Dr. J. Horace MacFarland, president of the American Civic association, whose recent visit to Atlanta was a notable event in the history of the city.

But though conditions here are deplorable in many ways, though changes are needed and more in the line of severe operations than pills and bitters, yet Dr. MacFarland is not without hope that Atlanta, “the strategic point of the south,” is going to take her medicine bravely and strengthen up, an example to the nation. In fact, he is sure of it, after looking over the city and drinking freely of the Atlanta spirit, so he has written for the chamber of commerce his opinions of his visit with suggestions as to what is needed, a document which is of great value.

After taking up the problems one by one, and treating all of them with the trained eye of the specialist, Dr. MacFarland concludes:

Build for Million People.

“I am full of hope that the very notable opportunity presented in Atlanta to do good things for Atlanta without any great delay will be availed of soon. You are, it seems to me, not dealing alone with the population of Atlanta, but because of the strategic importance of the city, are facing the need of so handling its fortunes as to fit it for caring for the business of 1,000,000 people, and properly and happily housing a population of 500,000 within a very short space of years. I am the more confident of a good result because of the sort of people whose hands I shook and into whose eyes I looked when in Atlanta. I believe anything is possible to the people who have proved their possession of ‘the Atlanta Spirit.’ ”

In the midst of the wrangles over minor political advantages, despite the waiting needs of thousands of people, Dr. MacFarland’s broad and sane view of the present and his economic and humanitarian glimpses into the future will come as more than a message to the citizens of Atlanta, the men who cast votes an the women who control the men who cast votes and who work side by side for the good of Atlanta.

First and foremost, Dr. MacFarland says Atlanta needs a city plan. He points out what the lack of such a plan has caused in the past, congestion of the streets that expensive and dangerous, lack of co-ordination between uses of streets, railway stations and their approaches, sewerage, water and transportation problems and finally the unsanitary condition of a great portion of the city.

Traffic Unreasonably Dangerous

“It is obvious that traffic proceeds in Atlanta only under expensive delay and unreasonable danger, and that only by broad and well considered effort, undertaken at the earliest possible moment, can vast future expense be avoided. The extraordinary circumstances surrounding the approach from the main part of the city to the new Terminal station provides a glaring instance of extensive waste.”

Atlanta public buildings, he says, “are scattered and without the least relation one to another,” and he points out the advantage of artistic grouping about a civic center. “If Atlanta avoids this as successfully in the future as she has in the past she will be able to have the distinction of having the worst placed public structures in the country.”

The boast of Atlanta for a long time has been her pure water, but Dr. MacFarland saw things to which Atlanta’s eyes, by familiarity, have been dimmed, the numerous vans delivering distilled and mineral water to residences in the city. He also remembers a visit to some of the negro sections, where sewers had overflowed, leaving a green scum, the product of Atlanta’s boasted sewerage system.

Some sub-surface method of transportation will be necessary before long unless Atlanta can more than double the width of her principal streets, says the civic physician, and unless the revision takes place soon, the prevailing congestion of transportation will become disastrous. Dr. MacFarland also takes a hit at “unfortunate skyscrapers, which never ought to have been built in a city with a whole state to spread over.”

House Population Properly.

The housing of the population is another feature of the city, intimately connected with every person in it. We have a “very bad supply” of certain kinds of houses, in the opinion of Dr. MacFarland, which will have to be remedied to safeguard the health of every class.

Atlanta’s parks and playgrounds bring forth the most enthusiastic bit of praise in the entire article, and their management is commended as not merely competent, but far-sighted.

“Such parks as you have are most excellently handled within the scanty means at command, and have evidently developed along the line of service to people rather than of ornamentation. I ought to point out the desirability of a larger sustentation of your present park facilities in the way of a fixed, definite and liberal appropriation, for annual maintenance as well as progress.”

Dr. MacFarland commends the swimming pool in Piedmont park and says it should be kept open longer, adding that he has not noticed in the American man or boy any desire to cease out-of-door life after September 1. He urges that the parks and business sections be connected with a park driveway, and that the parks be enlarged, gradually if necessary, but all the time, so that natural bits of woodland may be preserved to the city.

Billboards Illegal on Streets.

In regard to smoke, poles, wires and billboards, he classes Atlanta as a “two-dollar city,” because it was on that basis a change of linen was required! The smoke was too obvious to need much mention, but he points out what other cities have done and how it has been a saving in fuel as well as in self-respect. Poles and wires ought to come down, he says, without any qualification except as to trolley poles. Billboards in Atlanta he flatly denounces as bad.

“I saw many of them maintained illegally on the city’s streets. It is axiomatic that the streets of a city belong to the state, and that they have been taken for a special purpose, which puts it out of the power of any local authorities to grant their use for private advantage. Yet in front of every building being erected great and ugly billboards prevail. All of these could be removed at any moment if the city authorities chose to enforce the common law as it applies to Atlanta. There are abundant decisions to support this point of view. I do not oppose all outdoor advertising, but I do oppose its prevalence under unfair conditions, such as exist in Atlanta.”

Dr. MacFarland points out how various large cities have adopted systematic plans and employed several engineers to work in harmony to develop the city.

How to Let a City Plan.

“But how shall this plant be obtained for Atlanta? I would answer that the chamber of commerce, the details of which you (Mr. Walter G. Cooper) so ably preside over as secretary ought to be quite willing and able to finance such a plan. To raise by public subscription a sufficient amount to obtain the services of the right type of engineers, and then to conduct a careful campaign of education through the aid of the press, the pulpit, the schools and all well-disposed people would be a procedure greatly to the credit of Atlanta.

“I must not in this connection overlook the essential and important relation that will be borne to the whole proposition by the women of Atlanta. I ought to enforce upon you that without the co-operation with the women’s organizations you are not likely to reach any great success, while with co-operation it will be easy to do things which would otherwise seem impossible. In making this statement I speak from repeated experience.”

After leaving Atlanta Dr. McFarland wrote encouragingly of his visit to Charles J. Haden, of the chamber of commerce, expressing his gratification at the interest shown here in the message he had brought. He said in part:

“I judge from the editorial in The Constitution that some of the people are thinking about some of the things that were presented last week. I have been in more than 300 American communities, but I have never found one needing a comprehensive survey and a successful plan upon which to operate so much as Atlanta. Nor, indeed, to be just, have I found conditions more generally favorable for such a plan.”

Atlanta’s Produce Row



photo of South Broad street

Sometimes a man is heard lamenting that the days of romance are over. He will wish that he had lived in the days of chivalry. That man is blind. He has only to look around and he will see more romance today than was ever seen at one time in the history of the world before.

As an example, let him take a walk down South Broad street, Atlanta’s Produce Row. He will see barrels of apples from all parts of the Union. They are redolent of the sweet-smelling orchards. As the passerby catches the sweet aroma his mind drifts back to the days when he played around the orchard at home and eat apples to his heart’s content with no fear of indigestion.

Starting at the north end of Produce Row, one of the first things noticed this week was the magnificent display of celery at the Williams-Thompson company’s warehouse. There were crates upon crates of the vegetables, and Mr. M. D. Thompson, of the firm, stated that they had only just received a carload from Buffalo, N. Y., which was almost perfect in quality and which they had been anxiously awaiting for some days, as their customers were now calling for celery. A little further down the street the J. L. Barnes-Fain company was found with a splendid supply of apples. They stated that they had handled four carloads this week and that they had never seen better fruit in quality. This concern also handles large quantities of celery, and, in fact, most every produce found in Atlanta.

A little further down the street again is the Sewell Commission company. This house handles produce direct from producer to consumer. They specialize in poultry and the crates of plump fowl call attention by the cackles.

Another house which handles produce in large quantities is Fain & Stamps. This week they have specialties in apples, oranges and grapefruit.

All in all, Produce Row is among the most romantic spots in Atlanta. In one week produce may be seen there from every state in the Union, as well as from Europe, Central America, South America and Cuba. To the thoughtful passerby the different fruits and vegetables and the cackle of the fowl reminds him of the links which bind Atlanta to the rest of the world, and also of the fact that much of the produce sold here which is brought from great distances might just as well be grown in Georgia and thus keep at home much of the money we are now sending away.



What! Don’t know a “Jay Walker?”

Never have seen one?

Then you have never been at Five Points, nor Whitehall and Alabama streets, or perhaps you are one yourself.

Quizz the first cop you meet, inquire of your family physician, or one of the bonesetters at any hospital, or ask the guy who holds the inquest.

This Will Be Verdict.

Some of these days coroner’s juries will return verdicts which will read: “Came to his death from ‘Jay Walking.’ ” It used to be a habit—persons who claim to be authorities on the subject say—but now it is a disease. And it’s catching, just like chickenpox, a thirst for something cold to drink—the morning after.

A traffic policeman at Five Points designated at least fifty persons who were “Jay Walkers,” or who have dangerous symptoms. And the strange part of it none of them realize it. Few have even thought of such a thing, and if you should happen to accuse them they would probably knock on your ding dong for the information.

“You can stand on this corner any busy afternoon and count nearly twice that number,” the cop declared.

“See that guy over there, well he’s a ‘Jay Walker.’ Some day there will be nothing but a grease spot here, and his family will point to the spot where daddy was last seen. He is what they call a busy business man in the story books, but he is what us cops call a nuisance, a ‘Jay Walker,’ a man who is always in his own way.

“Looker there! I told you—”

Mr. Jay Walker in Danger.

And the cop pointed to the Decatur street crossing. The “Jay Walker” had started across the street, nose pointed heavenward, and all unconscious of the fact that a lumber truck, puffing and snorting, and shrieking under the sudden pressure of the brakes, was bearing down on him. Instead of beating it for the nearest sidewalk, Mr. “Jay Walker” stops in his tracks and continues to gaze complacently at the negro washing a second story window in the opposite building.

“Can you beat that?” demanded the cop, and he hastens over to inform Mr. “Jay Walker” that the driver of the truck is entitled to about ten feet of the street.

“See that dame flirting across the street?” exclaimed the cop, pointing to a vision that looked like a rainbow shooting across Peachtree. “Well, she is a ‘Jay Walker.’ ”

“I don’t get yer, Steve—explain?”

“Well, Bo, ‘Jay Walkers’ are persons who cut across corners—dash across the streets cat-a-cornered—who have not the time to walk along the sidewalk to the proper crossing. ‘Jay Walkers’ are people who are always flirting with death—who will run right in front of a street car, an automobile, or a fire engine, and if they happen to get splattered with mud will curse the driver to a fare-the-well. And if—”

“Hold on you bonehead!” shouted the cop at a chauffeur who was about to run his motor over a group of women who stood in the center of the street to exchange greetings, “ain’t you got no respect for ladies what hold reception on the street—”

Then to the ladies—

“Misses, won’t you please move to the sidewalk and let that fathead with the ice truck go by? Thank you ever so much

“Gee, but it’s getting fierce.”




Chief of Police Beavers has at last gotten his automobile.

Like many other improvements, this one was a long time in coming, but now that it is here the machine will be called on in many emergencies and will do great service for the city. It is a touring car, capable of holding five of “Atlanta’s finest,” and is equipped with a powerful engine that will “make time” when the clear-the-way signal is given.

The demand for an automobile for the use of police officials has been insistent for months, ever since two near-riots in rapid succession in far portions of the city showed the commissioners that some means of rapid transit was badly needed. The old horse wagons are out of the question with Atlanta’s greatly enlarged area, and the automobile patrols are constantly busy. The touring car was the solution.

The chief, or captain in charge, with sufficient officers to handle a good-sized crowd, can now be gotten to any portion of the city in a few minutes’ time. Incipient troubles can be quelled and life saved, where before there would have been bloodshed for lack of authority to uphold the law. There will be no speed limit when a call is being answered.

The chief is shown at the wheel of his machine and with him are three of the men who daily protect the city.

No More Tinkering with Streets’ Names.

The Constitution: Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, December 21, 1909

The announcement made in council yesterday afternoon that the street committee would meet in special session on Friday of next week for the purpose of reconsidering its recommendation to change the names of Marietta and Decatur streets, indicates very clearly that not only the committee, but council, is about to escape the mess in which both committee and council were in a fair way to become entangled.

It is worthy of note that only a few years ago a street committee of council recommended the change of names of these two streets, and when the report was submitted to council, so emphatic was the protest that even the members of the street committee adversed their own report and voted against the very change they had recommended.

It  is to be hoped that the present street committee will do itself the credit of adversing its report in this instance, for there can be no doubt that the city is overwhelmingly opposed to this proposed change of name of two historic Atlanta thoroughfares.

The word “Atlanta” itself is no more indissolubly identified with the city than are the names by which a few of the principal residential and business streets are designated in history, in legal matters, and in everyday usage.

Pryor and Peachtree, Whitehall and Capitol avenue, Peters and Courtland, Washington and Ivy, Walker and Spring, West Peachtree and Gordon, and so on indefinitely – each one of these names recalls to the Atlanta of both generations clear-cut and tangible associations.

Marietta and Decatur streets are no less permanently connected in the public mind with evolution, growth, business and tradition.

Because here and there undesirable or unpleasant elements have projected themselves, there is no more excuse for abandoning appellations that are of honored derivation and of honored present significance, than there would be in changing a man’s name to reform him.

Both streets are now being rehabilitated, and can be further rehabilitated by means more lasting and effectual than an appeal to unthinking flippancy.

It is a reflection on the dignity and the high functions of the city council of the south’s metropolis, that it should be called upon to invest time in even rejecting such superfluous and frivolous proposals.

And yet, periodically, some member is inspired to agitate innovations of this nature, and always with the same inevitable result.

Every previous suggestion to alter the name of some central or well-established thoroughfare has invariably created a storm of popular protest.

In no important instance has council acceded to the scattered and finicky hysteria to tamper with the titles of prominent thoroughfares, but continued and emphatic rebukes of this character seem to glide harmlessly off the backs of one on to the next council that feels called upon to grapple with the same old question.

But we believe this lesson of the pending episode will settle the question for at least a few years.

It is high time for this “up the hill and down again” horseplay to come to an end.

Formidable problems face the council of Greater Atlanta.

Its members have not the time, certainly they should not have the inclination to fritter away energy in bubble-blowing of this kind.

They have more serious business on hand!



“Atlantans are either speed-loving people, or they don’t know a good thing when they see it,” said Morris Rich yesterday, when asked why Gate City autoists had not taken to the electric car.

Mr. Rich is a great believer in the electric-propelled vehicle, but, according to his statements, there are not more than twenty-five or thirty other Atlantans who want the “juice” to carry them along.

“It’s a great city for car us,” he said, ” and stands up under trips as lengthy as forty miles from the city. It has all the speed, 6 to 20 miles per hour, that the city laws will stand, and yet it seems that Atlanta is slower than other cities in realizing the worth of the electric car. It is ideal for doctors, and is the only car that is safe for a lady to drive. The upkeep is less than that of the gasoline car, and the operating expenses never run over a cent-and-a-half an hour, but still Atlanta folk don’t like the electric car. As I have said before, it must be that they love speed too well.

“A good electric car easily goes forty miles on one charge. The car can be charged at home during the night, and the expense is very light. The next day it is in great running order, without the odor and pistol-like explosions of the cars that use gasoline as a motive power.

“The electric car is very easy to take care of, and very easy to run. There are not a net work of controllers about your feet and hands to look after, but just one, which, with the steering wheel, is the only thing to notice when you are running the car. This controller brakes the machine, backs it, and does everything else, making the operation most simple.

“Savannah, a much smaller city than Atlanta, is much more appreciative of the electric car. Savannah has four times as many in operation as this city, and has not as many gasoline cars. Three-fourths of these cars in Savannah are run by ladies, and children have been seen to operate them.

“Why not? The electric car is safe. It has never been known to figure in an accident, while gasoline and steam cars are always running into a wreck.

“Having six speeds, it can be adjusted to suit the driver, anywhere from six to twenty miles per hour.

“There is no doubt but that the electric car is the practical car, and Atlanta is behind the times in its use. Every city its size has more and many smaller ones boast of a greater number.”

Mr. Rich is an authority on the electric car. He represents the Rauch & Lang Carriage Company, of Cleveland, who manufacture one of the best cars in the country, and he was probably speaking of this car in particular in his statements. He uses it extensively, and has found no trouble in climbing hills with it. Hill climbing is a very important item in an automobile. Old-timers at the business of running cars say that the way to judge the worth of a car is up a hill, instead of on a level road with speed, and the electric car seems to fit the bill in this particular.

After a thorough trial of the Rauch & Lang car, Mr. Rich is positive that it is the economical car, the safe car, and a car that will give satisfaction to all.

New Name for Smith Street.

The Constitution: Atlanta, GA

Sunday, October 25, 1903

The understanding among the members of council is that the fight for change in the name of Smith street from Whitehall street to Glenn street is not yet over. Representatives of the second ward declare that the residents of Smith street are determined to have a new name for their street, and will have another petition before council during the next session of that body.

It will be remembered that it was the intention to change the name to Whitehall place, but it was discovered that one Whitehall place already exists, and this caused Mayor Howell to veto the measure. Residents of Smith street want the name changed for the reason that Smith street for a portion of its way is settled by negroes and runs through Pittsburg.

The real estate men, headed by Forrest Adair, and the attorneys of Atlanta have been anxious to have council discontinue the habit of changing the names of streets. They have made a fight on Smith street.

Councilman James E. Warren has in mind an ordinance which he may present during the next session of council. It provides that the name of Atlanta streets be changed only by a two-thirds vote of council. This, he believes, will have the effect of making a proposed change in the name of a street so difficult and important a matter that few will attempt it.

Smith Street Must Keep Name.

The Constitution: Atlanta, GA

Thursday, October 22, 1903

Mayor Howell announced yesterday morning that he would place his veto upon the resolution which changes to Whitehall place the name of Smith street from Whitehall to Glenn street. This he will do for the reason that there is already one Whitehall place in Atlanta. The city code shows that it runs from Brotherton to Fair street.

The proposed change in the name of Smith street has attracted considerable attention, mainly because of the opposition of the real estate men and the members of the bar to the measure. Forrest Adair made speeches before both the street committee, of which Alderman Terry is chairman, and before council, but the members of both bodies disagreed with his views and voted to change the name of the thoroughfare.

When the resolution went to Mayor Howell for his consideration Mr. Adair again appeared and presented arguments against the proposed change in the name of the street. Mayor Howell announced that he would hear from the other side before reaching a decision, but before those who favor the change of name could be heard Secretary Goodwin discovered in the city code that there already exists a Whitehall place and he so informed the mayor yesterday morning which resulted in an immediate veto.


The Constitution: Atlanta, GA

Wednesday, October 21, 1903

Proposed Change in the Name of Smith Street Was Discussed Before Him Yesterday.

Arguments against changing the names of streets were heard yesterday morning by Mayor Howell. Forrest Adair, who appeared for the real estate men and attorneys of Atlanta, spoke against the custom. Representatives of the other side will be heard by the mayor whenever they desire.

The speeches were based upon the measure which changes the name of Smith street, between Whitehall street and Glenn street, to Whitehall place. Mayor Howell has until next Thursday evening to decide whether he will approve or veto the measure.

The resolution changing the name of the street was vigorously opposed by Mr. Adair both before the street committee and during the session of council, but notwithstanding his objections and despite the petitions from real estate men and members of the local bar, council voted to change the name of the street.