When confronted with the view of Atlanta’s skyline, I can’t help but note the differences in the structure of the city. It includes everything from the incredibly old and beautiful to the modern, chic buildings. Although not all buildings are to each of these extremes (neither are they all beautiful or interesting), they do share similar qualities. These buildings all serve a purpose, share a story of their existence, and contribute to the culture of Atlanta. Why bring up such obvious inquiries, you may ask? As human beings, we become so accustomed to seeing the same things and eventually taking our scenery or surroundings for granted. We do not realize that the streets and roads we may walk or travel on every day have been there long before we have. They have been there collecting stories of the people before us and eventually after us. Although this may seem irrelevant to those of us who are here in Atlanta to attend Georgia State University and earn our degrees, it is very much applicable to our everyday travels around campus.

When conversing with my fellow SIFs about what project to bring to life this semester, we began to discuss the findings of old maps and historical evidence of our beloved, centrally located Georgia State campus. We came to discuss the block of Decatur st. and Peachtree center Ave. and its historical significance connected with the famous 1930’s blues scene in Atlanta. This block was very important during the times of the depression and was the hub for most all serious African American blues artists. Some key buildings and landmarks included Theatre 81, Dinkins-Davidson Hardware Co., and PF camp in addition to several small shops that included shoe shops and hat shops.

I was very interested in the topic and when I began to research I found very interesting cultural and social information: When the depression began in 1929, Americans were rapidly losing all hope for their standard of living. Blues artists began to see the possibility of making some money off of playing music in Atlanta, so they flocked here during that time. All African American blues artists preferred Decatur street: there they were free from the humiliation of segregation and judgement from whites. African Americans enjoyed theatre 81 for exactly that reason. It was a crucial landmark during this time, as it housed famous blues artists like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Blind Willie McTell.  The district of Decatur street was very accepting of musicians, peddlers, and prostitutes. People would congregate in this district around the parked trucks of moonshiners. When the moonshiners were shut down, the lack of moonshine hurting their business. As you can tell, there is already a lot of history to tell about this area that seems so familiar to us today but can tell us a completely different story of another age.

So, where exactly around campus was this located? Ironically enough, the musical hub that was Theater 81 is now the Georgia State University library. You may also ask how exactly one could create a project out of this, especially since our specialty for the project is to use a 3D scanner and a program called Agisoft? Although our plans are still in their early stages, our goal is to create an interactive 3D map  of the the block during the age of the blues. We are attempting to create an accurate portrayal of the area and display its significance and relevance to the university.

I am very excited to continue to research such a significant time period in Atlanta, and to continue learning more about the campus I walk around everyday.