The ATL Airport District and surrounding areas boast a rich history. Visitors and locals alike will find that the area’s history is interwoven in the local attractions and museums many frequent today. Read on to take a trip through time and learn more about what makes the District a true classic!
College Park–the fourth largest urban historic district in Georgia–originated in 1846. College Park has an impressive 867 structures on the Historic Register and is one of the only cities in the country that had a female architect actively involved in the city’s planning during the 1890s.
East Point was granted its charter on August 10, 1887. East Point marks the eastern terminus (end) of the Atlanta & West Point Railroad which begins in West Point, Georgia. A bronze disk set in a concrete post commemorates the spot and can be found at the foot of the James L. Jackson pedestrian bridge.
Union City was established on August 17, 1908. Two individuals are credited for its establishment: Drewry Arthur Carmical and Charles Simon Barrett. Barrett was the newly elected president of the National Farmers Union when they were looking for their headquarter’s location. Union City was officially named when it became the site of the National Farmers Union headquarter. Drewry Carmical went on to become the first mayor of Union City.
Hapeville was chartered on September 16, 1891 by Dr. Samuel Hape, Hapeville’s first Mayor. Arguably, the most significant impact on Hapeville’s future occurred when Asa G. Candler, Jr.’s oval race track was used as a landing field for aircraft. In 1929, the City of Atlanta bought the land and founded its municipal airport, now known as the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Delta Flight Museum
Hapeville is also home to Delta Air Lines, Inc. Corporate Headquarters and the Delta Flight Museum. Since 1995, the Delta Flight Museum has opened its doors to visitors from around the world. The museum is located in Delta’s original 1940s-era aircraft hangar. Flight enthusiasts and historians alike will enjoy learning about aviation history and celebrating Delta’s story within the 68,000-square-foot hangar. In 2011, the attraction was designated a Historic Aerospace Site.
Hapeville Depot Museum
If visitors prefer trains to planes, the Hapeville Depot Museum is just a short ride away. Located in what used to be an 1890 train depot, the Hapeville Depot Museum stores much of Hapeville’s history. In 1981, Hapeville city made the west freight room and two offices on the west side of the Depot available to the Hapeville Historical Society. Shortly after, the Depot Restoration Committee and the Historical Society combined to further develop the Depot Museum. The Depot Museum has a number of exhibits showcasing photographs, railroad memorabilia, antiques, and even classic cars.
Porsche Heritage Gallery
Speaking of cars, since opening in 2015, the Porsche Experience Center has welcomed more than 250,000 visitors and invited them to take a self-guided tour of Porsche’s history via its Heritage Gallery. The Heritage Gallery consists of two levels of vehicle displays and changing exhibits. The main floor of the Gallery showcases vehicles from the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart and from private owners throughout the United States. The Porsche brand has a long history dating back to 1948 when the first Porsche vehicle was registered..
The King Center
A mere 20 years after the first Porsche was registered, Mrs. Coretta Scott King established The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change also known as the King Center. Since 1968, the King Center has been a global destination, resource center, and community institution. Close to a million people visit the Center every year to learn about and pay homage to Dr. King’s legacy. The King Center is both a traditional memorial and a nonprofit that emphasizes six principles of nonviolence.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
With its ties to Dr. King, Ebenezer Baptist Church attracts many to its doors. Martin Luther King, Jr. was co-pastor at Ebenezer Baptist until his death in 1968. His funeral was also held at the church. However, the Church’s history precedes Dr. King. Since its founding in 1886, Ebenezer Baptist Church has served as a “spiritual home” to many. A faithful thirteen people were the first congregation to worship under Rev. John A. Parker–Ebenezer’s first pastor–from 1886 to 1894. Despite struggling for a few years and moving locations a handful of times, the church flourished to a congregation of more than 6,000 church-goers today.
The Madam C.J. Walker Museum
Madam C.J. Walker was a pioneer entrepreneur and propelled the Civil Rights Movement by contributing to black businesses. Yet, the history of the Madam Museum itself is fascinating. Ricci de Forest drove by a retail space bearing the name “Mme. C. J. Walker’s Beauty Shoppe” on the window. Soon after, he found himself occupying the store which still held several beauty tools belonging to Madam C.J. Walker herself. By happenstance, Ricci found out two years later that WERD radio station–the first black owned radio station–had been in a nearby location. Since these discoveries, Ricci has dedicated himself to preserving and honoring the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker and WERD by creating the Madam Museum in his beauty shop.
The ATL Airport District and the surrounding area are teeming with historical sites, attractions, and more that preserve the District’s history. Next time you feel like going on a tour through living history, just head on over to the ATL Airport District!
– by Kristel Rodriguez Peacock