Inman Park

 

Our Beginnings
Inman Park is Atlanta’s first planned residential suburb as well as it's first electric trolley neighborhood. Created at the cusp of the 20th century, this ideal Victorian neighborhood — curved streets, generous residential lots and verdant parks — was built upon the wrecked land of Atlanta’s Civil War battlefield, two miles east of downtown Atlanta.

Inman Park was the brainchild of a Renaissance thinker named Joel Hurt (1850-1926) who modeled the neighborhood after other trolley neighborhoods he had seen throughout the United States. In particular, Hurt, who now has Hurt Street named after him, had been impressed with the park-like neighborhoods created by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, along with landscape architect James Forsyth Johnson, plotted Inman Park in the late 1880s.


The neighborhood was an immediate success. Atlanta’s 19th century elite flocked to Inman Park to construct grand homes that were designed by the city’s best architects. Residents could travel via electric trolley to downtown Atlanta for work, and then return home for relaxation – after paying the hefty trolley toll of five cents each way. Turn-of-the-19th century business moguls such as Asa Griggs Candler, founder of The Coca-Cola Company, called Inman Park home during this successful period of growth.

A Time of Restoration, Preservation and Fighting the Road
In 1969, the houses of Inman Park began to be caught up in the restoration and preservation movement that had started in San Francisco and moved throughout the country; the beauty of Victorian houses was being rediscovered, and people were learning to revere the architecture. In 1970, the first Inman Park neighborhood association (IPR and later IPNA) was formed. In 1973, the neighborhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Atlantans continued to breathe new life into Inman Park.

Freedom Park was the largest urban park created in the United States in the 20th century. It was born of an extraordinary 20-year battle by nine Atlanta neighborhoods to prevent the construction of several proposed major highways systems that would have bisected historic neighborhoods and destroyed a string of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. More than 500 homes were demolished by the Georgia Department of Transportation in the 1960’s for these highway projects. In the ensuing years, as the 217 acres of land lay vacant and undeveloped, the neighborhoods most affected by each proposed highway project remained committed to preservation and the creation of intown parks.

CAUTION, Inc. was formed in 1982 to fight the highway proposed by the Georgia DOT:  A project supported by former US President Jimmy Carter, Atlanta Mayor Andy Young, a majority of the Atlanta City Council and DeKalb County CEO Manuel Maloof. In the face of such formidable opposition the neighborhoods sustained years of legal action in courts all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. Protests, civil disobedience and efforts led to elect over 68 No Road friendly politicians. With support from Congressman John Lewis and newly elected Mayor Maynard Jackson, CAUTION’s efforts to stop the road finally brought success with the defeat of the plan for a four-lane expressway with bridges, truck traffic, high speeds and limited access with exit ramps. The City of Atlanta, Georgia DOT and CAUTION mediated a resolution in 1991 that resulted in the design and construction of Freedom Park and Freedom Parkway.

Inman Park Today

Inman Park is the neighborhood of Joel Hurt’s dreams: beautiful homes filled with professionals who appreciate the charm of urban living in a bucolic setting. Almost all of the houses – both the mansions and the smaller dwellings – have been restored to their former glory, and the parks scattered throughout the neighborhood are well-maintained green spaces that pay homage to Hurt’s original designs. A strong neighborhood association – IPNA – continues to fight for the betterment of the neighborhood, mostly financed by a three-day annual festival that brings thousands to Inman Park for food, music and a tour of the historic homes. The original Inman Park neighborhood, along with a few adjacent Victorian developments, is now part of the Inman Park Historic District, and the historic appearance of the district is regulated by the City of Atlanta. Find out about our butterfly symbol.