Tales of Old Atlanta – The photo journalism of Boyd Lewis 1969-79.

These are the photographs of a bygone time and place. Paris had the 1890s. New York City the 1940s and 50s. San Francisco of the 60s. Atlanta of the 1970s had something in common with and had something unique compared to these epochs. We had the legacy of hometown hero Martin King.

The city, like Atlantis, sank long ago. Those were the rare old times.

I took the pictures. Hope you enjoy old times not forgotten.

 

 

 

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This free webzine is meant for your entertainment and information only. All photographs copyright Boyd Lewis/Atlanta History Center. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act of 1976, these images may not be reproduced in whole or in part with permission in writing from copyright owner. For information, contact Boyd Lewis. "Tales of Old Atlanta" is also available at: TalesOfOldAtlanta.com.
Boyd Lewis

Boyd Lewis

New Orleans family. War baby. Family moved a lot. Secondary and college education in Memphis, TN. Just before 1967 graduation, commissioning and tour of leafy, lovely Vietnam, banged up in auto accident. Decided to go into journalism. Tennessee mountain weekly, small Mississippi daily and nearly three decades in Atlanta. Black and alternative newspapers, freelance photojournalist, public radio news and documentary producer, news writer for CNN. Married Deborah James, followed her to Los Angeles for job. Quit the dismal trade and became middle school English teacher in LA barrio school. Quite happy.

33 Comments
  1. Cliff Green

    Boyd, I remember that glorious section of Peachtree between 10th and 14th , which was known as “tight squeeze” at the time. You could find anything you were looking for there, good or evil: bad dope and art-house films, troubled sex and Jesus. If I could shed several decades from this old body, I’d love to do it all over again.

  2. Thanks for the blast from the past. Was it really that long ago?

  3. Good memories of a great time to be in Atlanta. I’m glad I didn’t show up in any of your pictures.

  4. Sigh…such a fun time and such a wide open city! I moved here in ’75 and it was just the right juxtaposition of youth and opportunity. There was that laissez-faire attitude on so many fronts and it was filled with expectations of a brighter tomorrow.
    Thanks, Boyd, for the trip down memory lane!

  5. Terri Evans

    And to think that the Krystal in the midst of it all is now a Starbucks. The Atlanta Cabana is gone, along with Matthews Market. Any time I had witnessed too much “normalcy,” I always stopped in at Matthews for a glimpse of real life.

  6. I’m supprised that you haven’t included the Atlanta School of Art and Design that drew many so-called “Hippies” to Atlanta and the 10th & 14th ave. area in the late 60s and early 70s.

  7. The Memorial Arts Center was at the heart of the original home to Atlanta’s hippie kingdom. The Bird published around the corner on 14th street (Emory students and dropouts).
    Before Colony Square, there was a big old apartment building at the corner where artists and bohemians parked their bongs. Artists of course get there long before we do. Any change in society goes through the portal of art first. Nobody has researched the role of the Memorial Arts center in creating the city’s hip community. I didn’t take photos there because it cost you your scalp to take art classes and I was a poor citymouse. I stuck to the streets, not the suites.
    selah, -b

  8. I moved to Midtown in September of 1979. All the landmarks mentioned above were still there. There was a drugstore on the corner of Piedmont and Tenth Street; four MARTA buses ran up and down Piedmont, Juniper and Peachtree (10 [or was it 23?], 31. 36, 92), carrying me Downtown, to Ansley, Lenox. Emory, Decatur and Perimeter Mall with nary a transfer between bus and train and bus and . . .. I remember eating wonderful ice cream cones from the original Gorin’s at 14th and Peachtree, getting my hair cut at Pershing Point, and walking up to Rhodes Center to see a movie. Sigh.

  9. That old apartment building was located on Baltimore Place with a neighbor bar below street level called “The Bottom of the Barrel”. Local musicians would try out their latest compositions there. My brother lived there while he attended the Art school. Strange but very memorable times. 1969-1971 He was drafted in ’72. Do you remember what that meant then.

  10. The Bottom of the Barrel was the haunt of Jeff Espina, accomplished folk musician and guitarist. He had a vast repertoire that extends far beyond the dusty reaches of my memory, as well as an easygoing style that made the Barrel feel like home for an evening. Anybody know what became of him?

  11. http://www.bistroatlanta.com/
    Jim follow this link to a memorial of “The Bistro” that was on W.Peachtree. There is a list of entertainers that preformed there (Jeff is listed) and some names I recognize from the Barrel. I seem to remember they would come to the Barrel to relax and have a beer and sometime they would preform a song or two but mainly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
    There are some memories that pop up from time to time that are enjoyable.

    1. Goddamn, I loved the Bistro. My husband at the time was a musician and was able to get us on the guest list. There and also at the Great Southeast Music Hall and Rose’s Cantina. Little 5 Points with Little Egypt and The Hamburger Patties.

      Very good times, indeed.

  12. I remember an old haunt of mine…The Lighthouse. Loved the Krystal…get a cheap burger (very cheap) burger and fried while trying to come down off the orange barrel. Those were the days. Was there in summer of 72 with the rest of those who matter.

  13. Hey, nobody mentioned the Stein Club and listening to music at the Twelfth Gate.

    This brings up many, mostly good, memories of Piedmont Park back in the day. But one that has come up for me recently was of almost becoming a victim of racial profiling while walking in the park with Gene. The policeman who stopped us was threatening to bust me for being a runaway because I had carried no i.d. with me for a walk in the park, and thus could not prove that I was older than 16. I was about 25 at the time.

  14. Wasn’t Creative Loafing’s tag line, “Covers All the Do in Dixie”?

  15. This thread just made me smile. :) there needs to be a new movement soon!!! I definitely push that on to my lazy indulged generation… things are too out of hand corporately in my opinion. Peace Love and adaptation to the better lifestyle.

  16. I lived in the margaret mitchell house in the late 60’s and 70’s, ate breakfast at the 5 and dime across the
    street. i lived on the same floor as the couple who opened the 1st headshop which was constantly harrassed.
    Going out on p’tree was a scene every night with hippies hanging out and the folks from the burbs cruising
    and gawking. The stein club was a good place for a cheap beer and clubs right on p’tree were rocking on weekends. always a blast going to the park and it seemed anytime the cops were going to harrass, everybody
    knew in advance. Back than, there was a asian restaurant fronting p’tree that blocked the view of my home.
    it was a great time. I lasted down there thru phunochio’s – richards – and the club across p’tree from the fox
    in the back of the old hotel. Stayed thru it all and until i hot busted and had to leave in the middle 70’s.

    1. I lived at the Margaret Mitchell house, too! Played guitar at the 12th Gate. And worked at the Community Crisis Center (Hot Line Atlanta and free clinic). I do miss those days!

  17. Thanks, Boyd, for the stroll back through history of any incredible time and place. I had moved from a small town in Pa. to Atlanta in the summer of ’70. From 10th to 14th streets, including Piedmont Park, was quite the eye-opener for an open-minded teenager from a close-minded background. I had the unfortunate luck of walking down the hill from Orme Circle – where I always parked – the night all went south. Seems like everything changed after that… and not for the better. I suspect disco took root the next day.

  18. Atlanta’s reaction to the hippies…

    I was only 7 or 8 years-old in 1969 or 1970 and I remember my mom suggested to my dad that we drive down 10th street to look at the hippies. It was after dark – what were they thinking?! We locked the doors and rolled up the windows because you just never knew what hippies might do. The most frightening thing that happened was that someone rapped on the front passenger-side window trying to sell or give us a copy of The Great Speckled Bird.

    I remember cruising along pretty slowly in a line of cars suggesting that we were not the only ones that did this kind of thing. The only thing that I can compare it to is, years later, driving through Lion Country Safari.

  19. i remember hiding in the poster shop above the catacombs from my brother and the rest of the “mothers m. c.” i was 12 or 13, i spent a lot of time around 14th and have a lot of stories from the point of view of someone just trying to survive and and not knowing or caring about whatever movement was happening at the time

  20. OMG. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end. I was a waitress at the coffee house, The Bottom of the Barrel on Baltimore place. Those were the happiest, craziest, times of my life and I wouldn’t trade the memories and experiences for anything. Grew up and now I go into town and cringe at the sight. To me it is like a one time fairytale, come true. Another place on 11th and Spring Street was “The Bistro”, another wonderful little coffee house. Grew up, matured, somewhat, have grown children, Grandchildren and a husband. I could go on and on and on but there is not enough room here.

    1. do you know what happened to Jeff Espina who played at Bottom of the Barrel in late 60’s /early 70’s when you worked there?

  21. I was there and saw what started it all.

  22. Miss those times. I worked at Strawberry Fields and enjoyed many an outing in the Park. Those were the days of freedom, love, music (Allman Bros.) for FREE! Where have we all gone? To the burbs my friends….now a bunch of capitalist pigs…. ;(

  23. This article is great, makes me feel nice inside haha. We need more of this. Spread the love!

  24. thanks Boyd..was a kid back then, but I do remember these hi- jinx…new haven ct. was no different….we got a little hippie scene goin on, not the same, but enough for nostalgia’s sake…photo 9 coulda been the new haven green ’70 to about 1975

  25. I live in midtown during those times, 9th st. and Myrtle St. I was hoping to be a musician during those days, weren’t we all. I jammed with the Last Great Jive Ass Jug Band on College in the 70’s, maybe we ran into each other.

  26. OMG just found this site. What memories. Lived on Myrtle middle 60’s to early 70’s. We were at the Bottom of the Barrel with our friend Ellen McIlwanie one night. She was singing on stage and a guy walked in with a shotgun. He shot off a round into the ceiling and all hell broke loose. A lot of the guys were just back from Nam and they pushed the tables over for cover in a fraction of a second. The guy just turned around and walked out and everybody uprighted the tables and Ellen started singing again. I remember the Pizza Cellar, the Eighth Note, the Bistro, Moes,wandering around the Varsity, living off Krystals. Kids today don’t have a clue. ( :

  27. It was better than California for sure. We all had a sense of belonging. Straight laced older folks back then sorta understood and the cops kept it under control with tact and grace. Not like up north where you went straight to a cell just for a little weed.

  28. I had runaway Labor Day weekend 1969 from Cocoa, FL to The Strip. The 2nd photo above of the guys at 880 Myrtle depicts a man I came to love and live with during both years I lived there, and again out in Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974, we reconnected somehow. His name is Wade Bates, his sister was Judy Bates. If that home looked like a Barn, I lived in it with them and others in the Fall of 1970. I worked at Chili Dog Charlie’s in 1969. My street name in Atlanta was Rachael O’Leary. I remember Bongo and Mouse and a girl named Cody, as well as all the concerts in the Park & the 14th Street Crash Pad. Wow, can’t believe I’ve made it to age 61 after all that! I was 14 when I arrived; my last visit there was in 1989 for my 20th reunion of those days. Thanks for some fantastic old photos! I’ve actually found myself in one somewhere of a concert at the park.

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