Although the number of native Atlantans seems to dwindle by the year, many of the city’s current residents have lived in Atlanta for a long time. As the city continues to evolve and grow, certain institutions and icons vanish to make way for all things new. Southerners love reminiscing over the places they used to go to and the things they used to do. Keep reading to learn more about what Atlanta was like in years gone by, and see if you remember any of these gone but not forgotten landmarks.
Atlanta Fulton County Stadium
Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was the first major sports stadium constructed in Georgia. Atlanta Falcons football fans and Atlanta Braves baseball fans born before the 1990s undoubtedly have great memories of enjoying games in the open-air venue. Both teams shared the stadium for 26 years, and it was also home to many memorable concerts during the 1970s and 1980s. Artists who performed at the stadium included Led Zeppelin, Elton John, ZZ Top, KISS and even The Beatles.
You can still visit the place where Atlanta Fulton County Stadium stood. It is now a parking lot, but you can walk along the painted lines marking the stadium’s perimeter and view the monument that still stands in the spot where Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run.
Food and Dining
Dante’s Down the Hatch
For 43 years, Dante’s Down the Hatch provided a completely unique dining experience in Atlanta. Prior to its closing on July 30, 2013, patrons from all over enjoyed eating fondue and drinking cocktails while surrounded by gaudy global décor. Designed like a multi-level pirate ship, Dante’s interior design featured live crocodiles swimming in a water-filled moat. The restaurant showcased live jazz musicians and was a favorite spot for birthdays, anniversaries, prom dinners and other special celebrations.
Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor
Kids growing up in the Atlanta area during the 1970s begged to celebrate every birthday at Farrell’s Ice Cream parlor. Parents often obliged because the restaurant gave children a free birthday ice cream sundae, and the whole family enjoyed the fun 1890s vintage theme. Each Farrell’s location featured music from a working vintage player piano and employees were dressed in period costumes, including straw boater hats and striped shirts.
Part of the fun of Farrell’s was reading the newspaper-printed menu emblazoned with corny jokes. Pretend offerings such as “Bees Knees and Mosquito Knuckles” kept kids laughing. Perhaps the biggest draw to Farrell’s was its famous “Zoo” sundae. Big enough to serve the whole table, multiple employees delivered the giant metal tureen of ice cream, whipped cream and toppings on a stretcher, running through the aisles to the sound of an ambulance siren.
A popular field trip location for local schoolchildren, Mathis Dairy delivered dairy products throughout the metro Atlanta area during the mid-to-late 1900s. Most kids who visited Mathis Dairy remember walking through the fields, eating ice cream and getting an “I milked Rosebud” sticker after milking one of the farm’s cows. Mathis Dairy’s products could be found in grocery stores, but many older Atlantans remember having their glass-bottled milk, cream and other dairy products delivered straight to their family’s front door.
Remembered as America’s most infamous street party, Atlanta’s Freaknik spring break event began in 1983 as a small celebration at Piedmont Park. It was arranged and attended by students at Morehouse, Spelman and other local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The name Freaknik combines a song title from the era, “Superfreak”, with the word “picnic.” Within ten years, Freaknik had become an enormous annual event, drawing African American students from around the nation.
Atlanta businesses impacted by the sudden influx of visitors each spring began to close due to round-the-clock traffic jams that clogged the city during Freaknik. By 2000, attendees had moved their spring break events to Texas and Florida. In 2019, organizers announced the scheduling of a new Freaknik concert to be held in the summertime at the Cellairis Amphitheater at Lakewood. Touted as a “family friendly” event, the new Freaknik seeks to create a new and improved, all-inclusive party tradition.
Atlanta’s legendary nightclub and disco opened in 1980 as a favorite place for celebrities to hang out while visiting the city. Located on Piedmont Road next to the aptly-named “Disco” Kroger store, the Limelight’s dance floors were occupied through the years by Andy Warhol, Tom Cruise, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart and other stars. A mirrored disco ball from the Limelight still hangs in front of the entrance to the Disco Kroger.
The World of Sid & Marty Krofft
Few non-Atlantans know that where the CNN Center now stands was once occupied by a psychedelic theme park. Accessed by an eight-story escalator that still shuffles Atlanta visitors up for CNN Studio tours, The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was a short-lived indoor entertainment destination.
This tribute to the Krofft brothers’ 1970 cartoons Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, H.R. Pufnstuf, and Land of the Lost included attractions designed after each show. Rides included a crystal carousel fitted with unicorns, whales and other mystical creatures and a ride through a giant Pinball Machine that ended by depositing riders into an actual arcade. If you want a glimpse into the minds of Sid and Marty Krofft, their wacky shows can still be viewed on YouTube.
Buford the Buzzard at Six Flags Over Georgia
Buford the Buzzard was a literally foul-mouthed bird whose puppet shows drew crowds during the early years at the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park. Perched inside an antique wagon, the black-feathered buzzard interacted with passers-by, usually insulting them in hilarious ways. Buford also performed several scheduled comedy shows each day.