Metro Atlanta has a history of demolishing and renaming streets and sometimes wiping out entire neighborhoods. In the city of Decatur, there used to be an African-American neighborhood called “the Bottom” or later Beacon.
The city of Decatur is dedicating its new $38 million Beacon Municipal Center to that community.
The center pays tribute to the historically African-American neighborhood that once stood in its place.
Former Decatur mayor Elizabeth Wilson says she remembers when she first moved into the Beacon neighborhood in 1949.
“Atlanta Avenue was the major thoroughfare through the African-American community,” Wilson says. “It started on West Howard Street and went to downtown Decatur. That was the whole Business District for African-Americans. We had a little grocery store there, a theater, cafe, cab stand, laundromat, funeral home …”
But all of that was destroyed. Especially the public housing, Allen Wilson Terrace Homes, where she lived. In 1938, the first public housing was in Decatur, and the development was the second of its kind in Georgia.