Great Atlanta Fire of 1917: Thousands of Black Families Lost Homes

3 Posted by - November 14, 2018 - City, LATEST POSTS

The started in a warehouse near Grady Hospital and rapidly spread through the 4th ward which was predominantly a neighborhood the “Buttermilk Bottom”. The wooden structured homes and strong winds fed the flames. The fire burned for nearly 10 hours and destroyed 300 acres of land, 1,900 buildings, and displaced 10,000 people from their homes. The damages were estimated at $5 million and $92 million when adjusted for inflation. The cause of the fire was never known. However, the day the fire started was clear, warm, and sunny with a breeze from the south. The fire was not the only one that occurred that day. Another fire at the Candler Warehouse across the tracks from West End also occurred.

For weeks, the city was shrouded in smoke and ash. Houses collapsed in on themselves, and wooden frames and shingles fell into cellars, which created smoldering fire pits. Thousands of homeless families relocated to the Piedmont Park or vacant lots on Edgewood Avenue, while others slept in the civic auditorium, in church sanctuaries, and in hotel and theater lobbies.

Low-income housing developments were later built in the destroyed extreme southern section and the areas south of North Avenue. There were 50 acres around Boulevard and Highland that developed into the campus for Atlanta University’s Medical Center.




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  • Hilda M Saulsbury April 28, 2017 - 6:23 pm Reply

    I have never heard about the Great Atlanta fire which took place in 1917. It is like a well kept secret. Evidently this never happened again in history.

    • Black Then Staff April 30, 2017 - 9:05 am Reply

      Precisely! Sadly, we find that a lot of Black history consists of “best-kept secrets,” since a lot of it is never taught in school. Hopefully, we can work together to change this erasure of our history.

  • Hilda M Saulsbury April 30, 2017 - 9:12 am Reply

    Someone’s expertise will allow these facts take place in school systems.

  • roblox script executor June 17, 2019 - 9:20 am Reply

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