istock
istock

How Atlanta's Neighborhoods Got Their Names

istock
istock

You may know that Atlanta was once called Marthasville, but do you know how it got neighborhoods like Buckhead and Just Us? Here’s how just a few of Atlanta’s neighborhoods got their names.

Adair Park

Land speculator George Washington Adair helped make this area of Atlanta viable by bringing trolley service to the area in 1870. Adair died in 1889, and the park that bears his name opened in 1892.

Ansley Park

Another neighborhood named after its founder, Ansley Park takes its name from Edwin P. Ansley, who in 1904 teamed up with several partners to buy an unused plot of land from George Washington Collier to develop a verdant high-end commuter suburb.

Bakers Ferry

Ferry operator Absalom Baker began service across the Chattahoochee River thanks to an 1847 act of the state legislature, and the area around his landing now bears his name.

Benteen Park

The area was originally called Benteen in a nod to U.S Army Brigadier General Frederick Benteen, who was responsible for saving seven out of the 12 companies in Custer’s regiment during the battle now known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” Only later was “Park” added to the name.

Blandtown

Felix Bland, a freed slave, received the land for the neighborhood that now bears his name as part of his former owner’s will. When Bland fell behind on his tax payments, developers bought it and transformed it into a residential area. The neighborhood turned into a heavy industrial area after Atlanta annexed Blandtown in 1952 and rezoned it in 1956.

Bolton

Formerly an independent town, Bolton had a variety of names, including Fulton, Boltonville, and Iceville after the Atlanta Brewery & Ice Co. The town eventually settled on Bolton to honor Charles Bolton, who was appointed state Railroad Commissioner in 1837. Atlanta annexed Bolton in 1952.

Brookwood and Brookwood Hills

Joseph and Emma Mimms Thompson named their estate “Brookwood” after they settled on the land in the late 1880s. The surrounding neighborhood then adopted the name. Later, Brookwood Hills, which is located on the opposite side of Peachtree Road from the estate, was founded in 1922.

Buckhead

When founded in 1837, the neighborhood was called Irbyville after Henry Irby’s general store and tavern. But after Irby shot a buck and hung its head on the wall for all to see, the community began calling the area Buckhead. In the late 19th century, locals campaigned to rename the area “Northside Park,” but the name Buckhead remains.

Cabbagetown

An ode to odor, Cabbagetown received its name from the long-lasting aroma that resulted after the entire neighborhood around the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill cooked free (and possibly spoiled) cabbages on the same night. It’s said that either a truck carrying them flipped over and spilled loads of cabbages onto the street for anyone’s taking or that the truck driver gave the bad cabbages away.

Candler Park

Asa Griggs Candler, the partial and later sole owner of Coca-Cola, donated the land for what became Candler Park, which opened in 1926.

Castleberry Hill

The area takes its name from Daniel Castleberry, who operated a local grocery during the Civil War.

Chastain Park

Chastain Park is named after Troy Green Chastain, a Fulton County Commissioner from 1938-1942. The neighborhood was originally called North Fulton Park, but was renamed following Chastain’s death in 1945.

Chattahoochee

The neighborhood is named after the Chattahoochee River, which runs through it. The river’s name means “rocks-marked” in Muskogean.

Collier Hills

Collier Hills is named for Andrew Jackson Collier, who owned the land as his estate before the Civil War.

Druid Hills

JR P, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Real estate developer Joel Hurt picked the name from a list of 39 possibilities designer John C. Olmsted compiled in 1902.

English Avenue

English Avenue is named for the English family, who purchased the land in the late 19th century.

Five Points

Located in the center of Downtown Atlanta, Five Points is named for the intersection of Marietta Street, Edgewood Avenue, Decatur Street, Peachtree St. SW, and Peachtree St. NE.

Fort McPherson

General James McPherson served in the Union army until his death in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. When the army acquired land just south of Atlanta in 1885, it honored McPherson by naming the base after him.

Garden Hills

Phillip C. McDuffie’s real estate firm, the Garden Hills Company, founded the neighborhood in 1925. The developer named the new residential area Garden Hills.

Grant Park

In 1883, railroad engineer and entrepreneur Lemuel P. Grant donated 100 acres of land to establish the first city-owned public park. The park is named in his honor.

Knight Park/Howell Station

The neighborhood Howell Station is named after Evan P. Howell, a Confederate infantry captain who went on to serve as mayor of Atlanta from 1903 to 1904. Knight Park bears the name of William T. Knight, a neighborhood resident and alderman who donated the land for a community park in 1940.

Inman Park

Joel Hurt, the real-estate developer and civil engineer who named Druid Hills, organized the development of more than 130 acres of land. He named it Inman Park in honor of his friend and associate Samuel Inman, an alderman, developer, and civic leader in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Joyland

Joyland is named for the now shuttered Joyland Park, an amusement park built specifically for Atlanta’s African American residents.

Just Us

In the 1950s, the Fountain Drive-Morris Brown Drive Community Club was renamed Just Us, a reference to the area’s relatively tiny population (as in, “it’s just us folks living here”). The neighborhood has a total of two streets, so it hardly needed its long original name.

Kirkwood

A neighborhood in Dekalb County, Kirkwood is probably named for the Kirkpatrick and Dunwoody families, who lived in the area before the Civil War.

Lake Claire

You won’t find any aquatic animals swimming around in this neighborhood. Lake Claire is named for the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Claire Drive.

Loring Heights

Loring Heights is named for William Wing Loring, a brigadier general in the Confederate Army.

Margaret Mitchell

Although the neighborhood bears the name of the author of Gone with the Wind, she never lived there. Originally named Cherokee Forest, the neighborhood adopted the name Margaret Mitchell as a nod to the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School, which was located in the area on Margaret Mitchell Drive.

Mechanicsville

Established in the late 19th century, Mechanicsville is named in honor of the mechanics that worked to build and maintain the local railway lines.

Mozley Park

The neighborhood is named in honor of Dr. Hiram Mozley, its original landowner. Mozley died in 1902, paving the way for the development of the area.

Oakland

The City of Atlanta originally built the Atlanta or City Cemetery in 1850, but the name was changed to Oakland in 1872 due to its many oak trees.

Old Fourth Ward

Up until 1954, Atlanta was divided into wards. When the state legislature combined and rezoned wards in 1937 to decrease the total number from 13 to six, the “old fourth ward” became part of the new fifth ward.

Ormewood Park

The neighborhood is named Ormewood Park after Aquilla J. Orme, an official of the Atlanta Electric Light and Trolley Company. Orme’s extension of a trolley line into the area made the neighborhood possible.

Paces/West Paces Ferry

Paces Ferry is named after Hardy Pace, who operated a flat-boat ferry service across the Chattahoochee River during the 19th century.

Peoplestown

Although it may sound like a name that honors all the people who live in the neighborhood, Peoplestown is named after the Peoples family who occupied the area in the late 19th century.

Pittsburgh

Thanks to the heavy pollution south of the Pegran rail yards, the neighborhood is nicknamed Pittsburgh in a backhanded tribute to the industrial growth of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Poncey-Highland

Poncey-Highland is named after the intersection of North Highland Ave. and Ponce de Leon Ave.

Reynoldstown

Reynoldstown is named after 19th century landowner and store operator Madison Reynolds.

Sylvan Hills

Sylvan Hills is named for the word “sylva” meaning “the trees growing in a particular region.” Perhaps this neighborhood helps explain why Atlanta is called “The City of Trees.”

Tuxedo Park

In 1911, Charles H. Black Sr.’s Tuxedo Park and Valley Road companies bought 300 acres off of West Places Ferry Road and developed the land as Tuxedo Park.

Virginia Highland

The district’s center is located at the intersection of Virginia Ave. and North Highland Ave., making the name Virginia Highland highly appropriate.

West End

After residents received a charter and land speculators began creating a new suburb in 1868, developer George Washington Adair named the area after London’s West End theater district.

Whittier Mill Village

The Whittier Mill is named for the Whittier family. After successfully running a mill in Massachusetts, the Whittiers opened a southern branch in Atlanta in 1896.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Nolan Nitschke
A Historic Ghost Town in California Is Up for Sale
Nolan Nitschke
Nolan Nitschke

For just shy of $1 million, a ghost town in California’s majestic Inyo Mountains could be yours. Cerro Gordo, a 19th-century mining town that served as the “silver thread” to Los Angeles, is now up for sale via Bishop Real Estate in Bishop, California.

Located in Owens Valley near the town of Lone Pine, the $925,000 property comes with over 300 acres of land, mineral rights, and no shortage of peace and quiet. There are 22 structures on site, including a historic hotel, bunkhouse, saloon, chapel, and museum—plus all of the artifacts that come with it. 

“The site has been extremely well protected from diggers, artifact looters, and Mother Nature herself,” reads the listing, posted on a website specially created for the property that's aptly named ghosttownforsale.com. “Restoration has been undertaken on most of the buildings, and the rest are in a state of protected arrested decay.”

The town of Cerro Gordo has been privately owned for decades, but the family who owns it “felt it was the right time to sell it,” real estate agent Jake Rasmuson tells Mental Floss. No conditions are attached to the purchase of the property, but Rasmuson says “one would hope that some of the history would be maintained and that it would still be open to the public.”

Walking tours of the property can be booked via Cerro Gordo’s website, and those will continue to be offered until the property is sold. The listing was just posted online a week ago, but Rasmuson said the property has already received “quite a bit of interest,” mostly from history lovers who have visited the site before.

Cerro Gordo, meaning “Fat Hill,” received its name from Mexican miners who combed through the area in search of silver before it became a commercial mine, according to the town's website. In 1865, a prospector named Pablo Flores started a mining operation at the nearby Buena Vista Peak. It didn’t take long for word to spread, and within two years prospectors were flocking to Cerro Gordo.

A businessman named Mortimer Belshaw is the man who really put the town on the map, though. In 1868, he brought the first batch of silver to Los Angeles and later built a toll road to supply the burgeoning industry. Within a year, the mine was the largest producer of silver and lead in California. 

“If you look at the history of Cerro Gordo, it was really instrumental in the expansion of Los Angeles,” Rasmuson says. One of structures on the Cerro Gordo property—the Belshaw bunkhouse—still carries on his legacy.

It wasn’t until the 1880s that the mine was finally abandoned after being hit by a fire and falling silver prices. (However, mining operations were revived in 1905 and continued for a couple of decades.) 

The town may be peaceful now, but it wasn’t always so. In the 1860s and ’70s, the town saw a murder per week, according to a Los Angeles Times article from 2006 about the restoration of the property. The property’s late owner, Michael Patterson, told the newspaper that the only sound for miles around “is the whistle of the wind blowing through all the bullet holes in every building up here."

For those who aren't afraid of ghosts, this little slice of Wild West paradise might just be the perfect place to live. Keep scrolling to see more photos and a video of the property.

The Cerro Gordo property
Nolan Nitschke

The Cerro Gordo property
Nolan Nitschke

A former church
Nolan Nitschke

Inside the saloon
Nolan Nitschke
nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
How 8 Phoenix Neighborhoods Got Their Names
iStock
iStock

Inhabited by native people for thousands of years and colonized by white settlers in the 1860s, Phoenix has developed a booming economy based around “the Five Cs”: cotton, citrus, cattle, climate, and copper. It's grown from a once-dusty desert town to the state capital, as well as the nation's fifth-largest city, with a population of 1.6 million and counting. Here’s the story of how eight of the city's neighborhoods ended up with their current names.

1. ALHAMBRA

Best known as the founder of Glendale, Arizona, William John Murphy was a pioneer, contractor, and the impresario of the Arizona Improvement Company, created in 1887 to sell land and water rights south of the Arizona Canal. Murphy also greatly contributed to the early development of Scottsdale and Phoenix, and he was responsible for splitting a large chunk of his land along the western border of Phoenix, next to Glendale, into smaller subdivisions [PDF]. He also came up with the subdivision's names; Alhambra stemmed from the 13th-century palace and fortress of the same name in Granada, Spain. Today, the neighborhood is known for large homes and its Murphy Bridle Path, named after its former landowner.

2. AHWATUKEE

The word Ahwatukee—an “urban village” in the East Valley region of Phoenix—has roots in the Crow language, but theories about its translation differ. Before it was a village, the name referred to a single estate built in 1920 that sat at the modern-day streets of Sequoia Trails and Appaloosa Drive. The original builder, William Ames, first named it Casa de Sueños ("house of dreams"), but he died three months after moving in. His widow, Virginia Ames, owned the house until her death in 1932, and it was eventually sold to a rich Midwesterner named Helen Brinton, who had an interest in the Crow tribe. Her attempt to translate “house of dreams” into Crow was Ahwatukee, but the tribe says there’s no such word in their language. The name caught on regardless, being used to refer to the house as well as the area that developed around it.

3. SUNNYSLOPE

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Southwest was a place where sick people would travel from all across the U.S. to recuperate from pulmonary illnesses—especially pulmonary tuberculosis. The hot, arid climate was thought to dry out one's lungs, while the year-round sunshine was believed to have healing properties in general. In the early 20th century, Sunnyslope—and Sunnyslope Mountain, marked by a 150-foot-tall white S near its peak—became known as an area where ill people could get well. California architect William Norton built a subdivision in the area in 1911, and it was his daughter who came up with the name Sunnyslope after admiring the sun glinting off the slope of the mountain.

4. F. Q. STORY HISTORIC DISTRICT

The F.Q. Story district is named after Francis Quarles Story, who purchased the land it’s on back in 1887. Formerly a wool merchant, Story moved to Los Angeles County for health reasons and became a citrus farmer before investing in land in Arizona’s Salt River Valley and promoting agricultural development there. He never lived in Phoenix, but he did have a hand in the development of its major thoroughfare, Grand Avenue, as well as its subsequent streetcar line. The F.Q. Story neighborhood was built as a “streetcar suburb,” with newspaper ads in 1920 calling the grand opening "one of the big real estate events of the season." (Unfortunately, a flood at nearby Cave Creek caused a temporary halt in construction the following year, but the area rebounded after a dam was constructed in 1923.)

5. WILLO

Willo started out as a planned community, an idyllic suburb on the outskirts of Phoenix, although today it lies near downtown. A man named J. P. Holcomb acquired the southern part of the neighborhood in 1878 and then the northern part in 1886, using the land mostly for farming for the next 20 years. In the early 1900s, several homes were built on long, narrow lots, and 41 more were added in the '20s, but the area was still isolated from the city and it was difficult to attract buyers. Developers decided it needed a snappy name, and came up with Willonot from the willow tree, but from combining the two nearest voting districts: Wilshire and Los Olivos.

6. LAVEEN

As early as 1884, Mexican and Mormon settlers were living in what’s now called Laveen Village, in the Southwestern part of Phoenix. The school district was called the Harovitz District, but the community itself had no name for more than 30 years, until Roger Laveen was appointed as its first postmaster in 1913 [PDF]. The post office was located in the back of Laveen’s brother's new general store, which became a cornerstone of the town. Roger only worked in the post office for about two years, although both brothers continued living in the area that now bears their name for decades more.

7. MEDLOCK PLACE

Medlock Place was named after prominent residential developer Floyd W. Medlock, who created the community in 1926 with the idea of giving it a rural aesthetic despite being only a few miles from downtown Phoenix. The precocious Medlock—he was only in his early 20s—planned palm tree-lined roads in the new community and sold pre-built houses, a ground-breaking move in 1920s Phoenix. (In an ad, Medlock called his community "the Subdivision Extraordinary.") For his subsequent South Medlock Place addition, he began selling vacant lots instead, with buyers permitted to hire their own builders.

8. ARCADIA

Located at the foot of Camelback Mountain and one of the wealthiest areas of Phoenix, Arcadia started out like a lot of the city’s neighborhoods: as citrus orchards. The first grove was planted in 1899, and by 1920, the foothills were covered in citrus trees—thanks in large part to the Arcadia Water Company, which set up a widespread irrigation system starting in 1919. Soon, farmers and developers began investing in the region and building homes. The neighborhood took its name from the water company, which in turn got its name from Greek mythology: Arcadia was where Pan, the goat god, originated—a region supposedly named for its king, Arcas, the hunter. The association with nature is still apt, since fruit trees abound in the neighborhood even today.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios