Location: Intersection of Decatur Street and Cornelia Street
While traveling near the Inman Park-Renoyldstown neighborhood a few weeks ago, a detour from my normal route brought me to a very narrow street named Cornelia Street. Initially, I was drawn to the colorful art on the weather-beaten fence, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the weathered bricks and stairs. The old walls and stairs appear to be remnants of homes from the earlier 19th and 20th century. Using the Sanborn Fire Maps as well as the Atlanta City Directory, I was able to not only determine that homes once occupied these abandoned lots, but also found the names of the occupants.
From the Sanborn Map of 1899 above, as you can see the homes were labeled house number 14, 12, 13, 3. 5 and 6 with shops faces Decatur Street. According to the Atlanta City Directory from 1899, residents that occupied Cornelia Street were apparently desegregated, though it is unknown what occupations the residents held. In 1899, a resident by the name of I.D. Simpson occupied #5 Cornelia St. What I found most interesting was the names of the black residents who occupied houses number 8, 12 and 14. Their names were Amanda Crockett (#8), Katherine Crawley (#12), and Sallie McCall (#14). According to the Atlanta City Directory, Katherine Crawley did not have an occupation listed, while Amanda Crockett and Sallie McCall were listed as washerwomen. Apparently, this portion of Cornelia Street was a working-class segment of the neighborhood. However, it must have been unusual for the times to have mixed-race inhabitants in 1899 Atlanta, GA. P
The above maps details Cornelia Street in 1911, a decade later than the previous map above. According to this map, R.O. Campbell Coal Company occupied a large portion of this area. Which means the area must have been working-class and rather industrial. A stark difference in contrast to the suburbs of Inman Park located not too far from Cornelia Street. According to the Atlanta City Directory, the makeup of the residents of Cornelia Street changed as well. Not a single woman occupied Cornelia Street in 1911. What’s more, the racial makeup of Cornelia Street residents changed as well. Of the 12 homes listed in the directory, only one was occupied by a person of color. The Atlanta City Directory lists residents of the 12 homes on Cornelia Street as men, with one being a man of color. Where did the women of 1899 move to and why did they move? Perhaps for better employment opportunities? Could the gender and racial change in the residents of Cornelia Street have something to do with the new R.O Campbell Coal Company across the street?