Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: The Saga of Two Families and the Making of Atlanta

Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: The Saga of Two Families and the Making of Atlanta

by Gary M. Pomerantz
     
 

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There is an intersection in Atlanta where two worlds meet. On the one hand, there are the gleaming skyscrapers of Peachtree Street, where Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell lived & died; & on the other, there are the Reconstruction-era churches of Auburn Ave., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once preached & is now entombed. This book is the biography of

Overview

There is an intersection in Atlanta where two worlds meet. On the one hand, there are the gleaming skyscrapers of Peachtree Street, where Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell lived & died; & on the other, there are the Reconstruction-era churches of Auburn Ave., where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once preached & is now entombed. This book is the biography of Atlanta as told through two of its most prominent & elite families — one white, one black — as they ascend over five generations on opposite sides of a segregated city to produce the two most controversial mayors of the New South: Ivan Allen, Jr., & Maynard Jackson. Photos.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This compelling account of the rise of Atlanta from the devastation of the Civil War to its present role as host of the 1996 Olympics is told through a generational biography of two families-one black and one white. Displaying his excellent research skills, Pomerantz, a journalist with the Atlanta Constitution, recounts the story of Iran Allen Sr., son of a Confederate cavalryman, who came to the city in 1897 to accumulate wealth. Contrasted with the Allens are the Dobbses, whose Atlanta residency began with John Wesley Dobbs, son of a Georgia freedman, who arrived in 1895 seeking an education. Coexisting in a segregated society, both men raised families and became civil leaders. Dobbs taught his children that they were the equals of whites, and his grandson, Maynard Jackson Jr., was elected Atlanta's first black mayor in 1973. Iran Allen Jr. recast himself as a Southern liberal and served as Atlanta's mayor from 1962 to 1969. Through rich details and vibrant characterizations, the author delivers a comprehensive overview of the struggle for civil rights in a major Southern city. (June)
Library Journal
By the time the Olympic Games begin this summer in Atlanta, Peachtree Street will be as widely recognized as New York City's Broadway. Yet where Peachtree meets Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, two worlds collide-one white and one black. In a thoroughly enjoyable and well-written book, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Pomerantz relates Atlanta's history, focusing on two families and two mayors-one white and one black. Ivan Allen Jr. served as mayor during the turbulent decade of the 1960s-a period marked by racial discord. Maynard Jackson Jr. began the first of his two stints in office in 1973; the affirmative action programs instituted under his leadership paralleled much of Atlanta's growth. Pomerantz uses the lives of the two families (Allen and Dobbs, ne Jackson) to chronicle Atlanta's early growth and later development into the Olympic city, along with a host of others whose contributions shaped Atlanta's history. Readable, humorous, and moving, this book is one of the year's best and belongs in all libraries. Highly recommended.-Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.
Margaret Flanagan
Pomerantz, a respected journalist with the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution", has chronicled five generations of two prominent Atlanta clans. Wealthy and white, the members of the Allen family serve as representatives of the patrician Peachtree Street neighborhood. Residents of the Sweet Auburn district, the Dobbs family eventually gained entry into Atlanta's famed inner circle of black elite. During the course of the twentieth century, both the Allens and the Dobbses rose significantly in prestige and power, each producing an ambitious modern mayor: Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson Jr. The outline of each consecutive generation is juxtaposed with the growth and development of Atlanta, providing a comprehensive overview of the evolution of one of the most significant urban centers of the New South. Defined by race, class, and history, the two separate Atlantas profiled are interdependent, each contributing mightily to the dynamic, creative tension that is the hallmark of the contemporary city as a whole. A fascinating historical and sociological analysis of the maturation of a major metropolis.
Kirkus Reviews
Just in time for the summer Olympics—a finely drawn, epic history of Atlanta and of two families, one white, one black, who helped shape its development.

Pomerantz, a journalist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has done a remarkable job of recounting both public and private events, lucidly showing how the two connect and diverge across the span of decades. Atlanta's beginnings were humble—a railroad junction with the unpromising name of Terminus—but it quickly grew into the largest city in the South. Even its near complete destruction during the Civil War did little to set it back. Adopting the phoenix as its symbol, the city underwent a phenomenal and frenetic reconstruction as thousands of families migrated from the countryside to the "Big Hustle." Among these rural immigrants were the Dobbs, sharecroppers and former slaves, and the Allens, gentlemen farmers. Members of both families quickly rose to join the elites of their respective communities, and their prestige, power, and wealth increased with each generation. While the book's title refers to two Atlanta streets where wealthy whites and blacks made their respective homes, there were few meaningful intersections of their lives until the 1950s and the beginnings of the civil rights movement. During those turbulent years, as segregation slowly came to an end, both families played key, honorable roles, culminating in the election of Ivan Allen Jr. as mayor, followed a few years later by the election of Maynard Jackson, a descendant of the Dobbs family and Atlanta's first black mayor. Pomerantz has accumulated a formidable amount of research and deploys it expertly, ra rarely losing sight of his characters as they play out their unique destinies against the backdrop of history.

An engrossing genealogical window on a remarkable city.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684807171
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
03/26/1996
Pages:
656
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.87(d)

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