|Current Day Williamsburg Village (Click here to view enlarged photo & comparison shots)|
As many of you have noticed, one of my favorite things to do is learn about and look back at Atlanta's past, specifically, commercial real estate.
Over the past year, I've chronicled the re-purposing of Blockbuster Video stores in Atlanta and more recently (on the blog), former Donatos Pizza restaurants.
While I have lived though both of these stages in Atlanta real estate, I have not lived though many other happenings. A great site for reliving Atlanta's past is Atlanta Time Machine.
Most of the vintage photos shared on the site are courtesy of the Georgia State Library, while the more recent ones are taken present day, some as recently as this year.
Many of the featured buildings or intersections feature a top / bottom comparison of what the area used to look like and what it looks like today.
One of the most interesting photo sets I've come across was a before and after of Williamsburg Village, the shopping center at the corner of Clairmont and Briarcliff Roads.
I've lived in the Oak Grove / Lakeside area all my life (until recently) and made plenty of trips to the center a child. I can remember when what is now Himalayan Spice was a Revco (a drugstore that was subsequently purchased by CVS Pharmacy) The "anchor" space, on the Clairmont side was a large unfinished furniture store, and there was a Sidelines bar where Benchwarmers is now. The "anchor" space was for a short time Pure Nightclub, closed a number of years ago after the liquor permit was pulled.
Wings Camera, which has been in business since 1912, is one of, if not the, oldest tenant in the center today. The store is located on the Briarcliff side of the center though one of its earliest incarnations was downtown alongside the famous Loew's Grand Theater on Peachtree Street.
Revealed in this photo, however, was a seemingly quite large (for the time) A&P grocery store. Apparently, the A&P opened in 1965 and closed in the 70s.
I used to do trivia a lot on the site, and one of my most talked about questions was about A&P. In its heyday, A&P had over 30,000 locations in the 1930s, and was one of the biggest, most successful businesses in the country. Today the company has only about 300 locations and is concentrated in only a few northeastern markets.
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, or A&P as it later became known, started in 1861 and grew to become an American icon. The company was so large and well known that The Wall Street Journal said in a 2010 article that "A&P was as well known as McDonald's or Google is today" and that A&P was "Walmart before Walmart."
The chain ceased its then 34-unit Atlanta operations in 1999.
I remember going to A&P at Emory Commons (now Publix), Toco Hills (now LA Fitness), Decatur (now Kroger), Peachtree Battle (now Publix), Cherokee Plaza (now Kroger), Gwinnett Market Fair (now Bed Bad & Beyond) and Roswell Road (now Big Lots) but never knew that they had a location at Williamsburg Plaza.
I have been told that the Emory bus depot on Johnson Road near Sage Hill was originally an A&P as was the current Office Depot at Toco Hill.
What are your earliest memories of commercial real estate in Atlanta? What chain, grocery, gas, retail or otherwise do you miss? Why?
Oxford Books? Lechmere? Richway?Treasure Island? Woolco? Drug Emporium? Phar-Mor? Turtle's?
ps, for all my GT fans & readers, you gotta check out these shots from the downtown connector...UNREAL.