LITTLE FIVE POINTS History
One of Atlanta’s oldest and truly unique commercial districts, Little Five Points (‘L5P’) was the first commercial district outside of downtown Atlanta’s Five Points. Started shortly after the incorporation of Edgewood in 1908 (now known as Candler Park), Little Five Points grew into an offbeat arts and shopping district serving the in-town neighborhoods of Inman Park and Candler Park. By the mid 1930’s, Little Five Points boasted three movie theaters (The Palace, The Euclid and the Little Five Points), three grocery stores (Kroger, Colonial and A&P), four drug stores, and three barbershops.
Up until the 1960’s, Little Five Points was known for its alternative ways and was considered Atlanta’s cultural excursion offering avant-garde theatre, music, shopping, and eateries. During the mid 1960’s, Little Five Points struggled economically due in part to racial segregation and the demolition of homes that stood in the way of the proposed Stone Mountain Freeway slated to come through the middle of the district. Banded together, Little Five Points’ business owners and neighboring residents vehemently opposed the planned freeway and worked together to eventually stop further demolition and construction. In 1975, the city awarded community block grants to Little Five Points, which were used for public improvements. The city grants resulted in the opening of the Little Five Points Community Pub, at the corner of Moreland & Euclid, which soon became a L5P landmark and symbolized the resurgence of the district.
In addition to grant support, the entrepreneurial spirit of community-based businesses helped spur the revitalization of the commercial district. One of the first of these businesses was the independently owned feminist bookstore, Charis Books and More, which today is the oldest feminist and independent bookstore in the south and is located at 1189 Euclid Ave., NE. Also in 1974, the B.O.N.D. Community Federal Credit Union opened as the first community-based credit union in Georgia. The bank offered second mortgages and low-interest loans to resident homeowners in Inman Park, Poncey-Highland, Little Five Points, Candler Park and Lake Claire ñ areas that had been redlined during the 1960ís. The credit union provided the necessary financing needed for many of the businesses and homeowners in the area. Today, B.O.N.D. is a thriving financial institution located at 433 Moreland Ave.
The city’s first truly alternative radio station hit the airwaves in 1973 with a studio in Little Five Points. Radio Free Georgia or WRFG (89.3 FM) was created to provide a voice for those who had been traditionally denied access based upon class, race, sex, age, creed or sexual orientation. WRFG became the first radio station since the 1950’s to broadcast blues, bluegrass and jazz in Atlanta. Beyond music programming, WRFG hosted live broadcasts of the weekly meetings of the Hungry Club, Atlanta’s famous interracial forum. Dedicated to the arts movement in Atlanta, WRFG was the first station to broadcast live from the Arts Festival of Atlanta and the Georgia Grassroots Festival. In October 1995, WRFG reached 100,000 watts and the following year started its World Party Tours broadcasting live from global destinations. WRFG radio station is currently located at 1083 Austin Ave., NE.
Next on the scene was Sevananda, the alternative grocery store in Little Five Points. In 1975, this community owned natural food store opened to provide the finest selection of bulk herbs, spices, local and organic produce, vitamins and supplements, and natural foods groceries. Today, Sevananda is the Southeast’s largest consumer-owned cooperative and is currently located at 467 Moreland Ave., NE.
The opening of the Little Five Points Community Pub, displaced the Redwood Lounge, a bar with a notorious reputation for its fights and prostitution, and many residents and business owners considered this to be the turning point of the district’s next several decades. From here, community-based investors, such as the Intown Development Corporation, purchased and renovated eight storefronts followed by Point Center Corporation who purchased and renovated the Point Center Building, which still houses many L5P businesses.
The first new construction in Little Five Points in 30 years occurred in 1981 when the Little Five Points Partnership developed a food and shopping center. Two of the areas long-standing theatres were doomed for demolition until Mayor Jackson stepped in and leased the real estate to the Little Five Points Partnership. Upon renovation, the Little Five Points Theatre opened as the Dancers Collective, and later became the 7 Stages Theatre. The former Euclid Theatre became the George Ellis Cinema and is now the Variety Playhouse. Today, both 7 Stages and Variety Playhouse are thriving Atlanta theatres and respected institutions that have contributed significantly to Atlanta’s arts community.
During the 1980’s, the music scene in Little Five Points continued to evolve. The Point, the district’s first alternative music venue, opened in the early ’80’s and hosted a wide range of performers from Steven Forbert to Ben Folds Five. On July 4, 1999, The Point played its final show featuring punk band, Agnostic Front. Since it’s closing, the space is now occupied by two different clothing retailers, Clothing Warehouse and Sushi. In 1989, The Star Bar opened in the old C&S Bank building which today houses the Elvis Vault The Star Bar plays mostly Rockabilly and has featured well-known acts including Johnny Burnette, Blink Ray and Dave Alvin. During the late ’90’s, the Star Bar experienced a Hollywood moment when several episodes of the television series, Savannah were shot on location.
Still a popular stopover for famous musicians, the streets of L5P have seen the likes of Mick Jagger, John Hiatt, the B-52’s, Black Crowes, the Indigo Girls, Jonathan Risban, the Ramones, Kris Kross, Outkast and Radiohead. With some of the best music stores in the city featuring rare and vintage recordings, L5P attracts music enthusiasts and collectors from all over the world. L5P music stores include Wax ‘n Facts, Criminal Records, and Satellite.
Now a mecca of dining options, L5P caters to diverse taste buds from bar eats at the legendary Euclid Ave. Yacht Club, the Vortex (check it out on Thursday night when the parking lot fills with Atlanta’s biker scene!), the BrewHouse where soccer fans gather year around to Front Page News for Cajun; Calcutta for Indian; Savage Pizza for vegetarian; the Olive Bistro for Mediterranean; El Myr for burritos; Zesto’s for a cone; and the newly opened Porter Beer Bar for great craft beers and outstanding cuisine.
Still known for its independent ways, the district of L5P boasts several independently owned and one-of-a-kind boutique stores including A Capella Books, Arden’s Garden, Coyote Trading Company, Aurora Coffee, Junkman’s Daughter, Little Five Points Pharmacy, Outback, and several cooperative free markets filled with vendors selling their unique wares.
From humble beginnings, Little Five Points today claims kinship to Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and New Orleans French Quarter. Known for its diverse and eclectic offerings, L5P is a destination for locals and visitors who seek out counter-culture whether it’s for people watching, shopping, dining, or enjoying the arts. Both young and old and black and white come to L5P to enjoy a slice of Atlanta and a piece of the South that is somewhat unexpected but always memorable.