Box 13, Folder 3, Document 41

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Atlanta Dor

“Covers Dixie Like the Dew”
Since 1883

Jack Tarver, President ©

Jack Spalding, Editor



OCTOBER 24, 1966


They Can Hear the Old Rinky-Tink Now


THE IDEA of reviving Atlanta’s deserted underground streets,
haunting reminders of how the city was a century ago, has
been moving some imaginations.

Here is where we left that subject (a flash-
back, in the style of the old flicks):

Under Alabama Street, an older Alabama
Street exists. At least two and perhaps four
blocks of it, with original street-level store /
fronts, livery stables and saloons, is regarded \
as reclaimable, along with some of the side

It is possible to enter this part of “‘under-
ground Atlanta” from the present Alabama
Street, though all is now dark and forbidding, used mainly by
trucks for deliveries to below-street-level entrances of Ala-
bama Street buildings,

Still, on that underground Alabama Street you may see,
at No. 38, a gilded inscription indicating the Lowry Bank, found-
ed in 1861, and across the street from it is the stone arch that
once marked the entrance to one of the meat packers of Pack-
inghouse Row. The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce held forth
at No. 44, and at No. 69 people reveled at Paul Hentschel’s

So much for the scene.

= * *

A MONTH AGO, when I wrote about the possibility that
this and perhaps other parts of “underground Atlanta” might
be carefully re-created in the style of earlier days, the whole
thing was only an idea in a few heads.

The Civic Design Commission had been looking into the
possibilities. What appeared in print about the idea moved a
good many people to call Paul Muldawer, a young architect
who is on the commission, to express enthusiastic interest. He
welcomes such calls. And he now reports that he and others
of the commission have been moving along with more explora-
tions of the prospects.

I also have had many responses, and that suggests to me
that the idea would be a popular one and a re-creation of the
old Atlanta would draw plenty of customers. Among those who
have reacted happily to the idea are the people at the Atlanta
Convention Bureau, who obviously would have something very
unusual to tell our visitors about.

“ *, *

SO A SMALL LIST is now being compiled by Mr. Muldawer
indicating who thinks what about this still-aborning idea:

One caller would like to put in a night club and lounge in
the 19th century decor, if other entrepreneurs would join him
down under; and now there also is a suggestion that an old

s "

locomotive (or the dining car of an old train) be rolled down
the tracks that still exist and placed within reach of the visitors.

Mr. Hugh Starr has called me and told of a rare collection
which I did not know existed. Mr, Starr for many years has
been collecting old mechanical music devices. He has more
than 50, most of them large and valuable.

One, for instance, is a seven-feet-tall mechanical organ with
256 pipes, vintage 1910, which bursts into a frenzy of “Let Me
Call You Sweetheart” when Mr. Starr flicks it on.

There is an old band organ that whips out “Old McDonald”
on 13 brass trumpets, 98 wooden pipes, a bass drum, a snare
drum and a cymbal, all of it a veritable cacaphonic extrava-
ganza of early automation. (Hear! hear!)

* * ae

MR. STARR’S COLLECTION also includes a player piano
that has eight separate slots for nickels (apparently so that
one’s enjoyment could be prolonged without the necessity of
leaving the bar); a genuine Violano-Virtuoso, circa 1912, which
combines violin and piano musie in a mechanical rhapsody;
and, sir, a band organ that plays a continuous roll of music
650 feet long.

Now: Mr. Starr is pondering whether a revived ‘‘under-
ground Atlanta’ might have room for a museum of old musical
instrument curiosities.

An even more obvious entry might be a drug store of
early vintage, perhaps equipped with the paraphernalia of the
early soft-drink industry in Atlanta, I shall not mention any
commercial names here (other than that of the late Violano-
Virtuoso company), but there is one firm in town that does, in
fact, spring to mind.

Minds are beginning to whir on all such dazzling prospects.
In fact, some people are even said to be hearing the faint, ghost-
ly notes of a rinky-tink.

+ * *

MEANWHILE, THERE IS only one bit of discouragement.
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has been
eyeing our underground city with an undisguised hankering. It
thinks it might like to place the downtown Transit Center (meet-
ing place of the north-south and east-west subway lines) in
‘“inderground Atlanta.’’ It, too, is studying the area.

But there is a large area in this underground city; and the
only part of it which is being considered for a revival of the
past is the short stretch under Alabama Street. Certainly it
would be a shame, and perhaps it would be a kind of disaster,
if that area had to be sacrificed to rapid transit.

Anyone who has a serious interest in all this should make
himself heard. This part of Atlanta’s heritage is too good
to lose to disinterest and the march of the great giant Progress.


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