Castleberry Hill is a unique urban community with a strong historic identity. Many of the early 20th-century warehouse buildings have been converted to lofts and are now the predominate housing type. The population is culturally diverse and the area is continuing to grow in both the number of residents as well as retail and other establishments.
This area was originally part of the renegade Snake Nation community but by the Civil War was becoming industrial with terra cotta and other building material factories, cotton warehousing and grocers, one of whom, Daniel Castleberry, it is named for. By the early 1990s, it had fallen on hard times, serving as the backdrop for dystopic films such as Freejack and Kalifornia. Loft conversions began in the 1980s, and by 1992, there were 120 lofts with 150 residents. The 1996 Olympics saw another influx of development. Today the area is thriving with retail shops, restaurants, apartments and condos. The proximity to all that Atlanta has to offer in a short walking distance and easy highway and public transportation options are, and will continue to be, major draws to the area.
Come visit, explore the deep roots and learn the history of this vibrant, creative community with its rich transportation history. The railway, which defines street and building patterns as it cuts through Castleberry, is as old as Atlanta itself, and Atlanta’s first horse-drawn trolley line served the neighborhood. The Castleberry Hill historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. As was typical of the era, laborers, carpenters, saloon keepers, tailors, butchers, blacksmiths and other trades people lived here, within walking distance of work. Castleberry Hill supported most of Atlanta’s growth after the Civil War.
The Castleberry Hill Neighborhood, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Atlanta’s eighth Landmark District, represents the most complete warehouse district still surviving in the City of Atlanta. The area is in the midst of a renaissance, with these old commercial structures being turned into dramatic loft homes for the many people attracted by the prospect of living Downtown. The neighborhood boundaries are as follows:
- Spring Street at I-20,
- along I-20 to McDaniel Street,
- North on McDaniel Street to Northside Drive,
- along Northside Drive to MLK Jr. Drive,
- East on MLK Jr. Drive to Russell Plaza,
- South from Russell Plaza to Mitchell Street,
- East on Mitchell Street to Spring Street, and
- South on Spring Street to I-20.
Atlanta and Castleberry History
A Brief Atlanta History
Incorporated as Marthasville in 1843 (named after daughter of then Governor Lumpkin), Atlanta was given its present name in 1845. The city was incorporated in 1847 and the population in 1860 was 9, 554. Rapidly rebuilt after falling to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on Sept. 2, 1864 and almost entirely burned on November 15, 1864, Atlanta thrived as a commercial and industrial center, and became temporary (1868) and permanent (1877) state capital. According to the latest census estimates (as of 2012), the Atlanta metropolitan area totaled 4.2 million making it the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the United States and the 40th-largest city.
Castleberry Hill History
Located on the southwestern edge of the Atlanta Central Business District and south of the Phillips Arena, Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center, Castleberry Hill is one of about 230 neighborhoods defined by the City of Atlanta.
Castleberry Hill was the name generally associated with a topographic rise that peaked along Walker Street between Fair and Stonewall Streets on land owned by Daniel Castleberry, an early settler. As Atlanta grew after the Civil War from a newly chartered city to a regional rail distribution center, so did Castleberry Hill. The area began as a residential district with Peters Street functioning as a trade and commercial strip supporting adjacent residential areas as well as the railroad-related businesses. As a business center, Peters Street received a boost in 1871 when the first horse-drawn trolley line in Atlanta was routed along it. In 1878, the City Directory lists laborers, clerks, carpenters, saloon keepers, weavers, tailors, grocers, butchers, blacksmiths, cabinet makers and other occupations typical of the pattern of the era of living within walking distance of work. The principal community facilities were the Walker Street School and fire station on the corner of West Fair and Bradberry Streets. A wooden trestle bridge on Nelson Street, likely the first in the city, was the only street in the district over passing the railroad (all other crossings were at grade). Another trolley line crossed this bridge.
By 1892, a substantial increase in non-white occupancy had occurred, mainly concentrated in the southern part of Walker Street, due in part to the continued displacement of non-white housing by commercial/industrial expansion within the district and the availability of housing for whites in other parts of the city. Several new residences and the Walker Street M.E. Church were built in the triangle formed by Nelson, Haynes and Walker Streets. A new iron bridge replaced the wooden structure at Nelson Street.
Real estate development activities were formidable throughout Atlanta in the first three decades of the 20th century, and the effect of this transformation on Castleberry Hill was dramatic. Peters Street continued to function as a neighborhood retail/service center and, in the boom years of the late teens and early 1920s, served both city-wide and regional markets. Two of the nation’s largest meat packing companies, Swift & Company and Kingan & Company, were located there. The only community facility remaining in the neighborhood was the Walker Street School, which was eventually destroyed by fire in 1983.
In more recent years, activity returned to Castleberry Hill as a few artists began to inhabit and work in the old warehouse buildings. With the surge in popularity of loft living and the robust economy, the renovation and adaptive reuse of buildings has continued, and the population is growing.
One of the more notable characteristics of Castleberry Hill is its federally recognized historic district, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The railway, which defines street and building patterns as it cuts through Castleberry, is as old as Atlanta itself. Early 20th-century commercial and industrial structures form continuous frontages at the street and railway lines, giving the area a distinctive urban look. Peters Street, the traditional route from Downtown to West End, cuts through the district.
In 1998 Castleberry Hill began working on a Master Plan, in which residents set out their ideas for the future of the neighborhood. This Master Plan was instrumental in helping with the Historic District designation as well as the Landmark Districting, which was approved in 2006. On March, 16, 2006 Mayor Shirley Franklin endorsed the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association’s (CHNA) bid for Landmark District designation, completing the process that the City Council approved unanimously. Castleberry Hill is the eighth neighborhood in Atlanta to earn the title Landmark District (others are Baltimore Block, Cabbagetown, Druid Hills, Hotel Row, MLK Jr., Oakland Cemetery and Washington Park).
Additional History & Map Links:
- Atlanta Preservation Center
- Castleberry Hill’s National Register Listing
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (enter full street name)
- Land Use Committee Page (Contains additional documentation on Landmark Districting & Zoning)
If you have information on the history of Castleberry Hill that you would like to contribute please click here to send us an email.