Actual Factual Georgia

If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at q& or call 404-222-2002.

Q: I’ve seen old photos of Piedmont Park that show several buildings that are no longer there. They appeared to very large and beautiful. What was their purpose and happened to those buildings?

A: Atlanta's popular park has undergone drastic makeovers in the past 200 years. Once forested, it was cleared for farming by the Walkers, a family that owned much of the land in the 1800s. Once cleared, it was seen as prime acreage to host 19th century expositions, which were exhibits to highlight a certain area, such as Georgia or the South. Many of the early buildings seen in photos were built for the Piedmont Exposition of 1887 and the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895, which was open for 3½ months and attracted about 800,000 visitors. Photographer Fred L. Howe's photos of the 1895 exposition are preserved in a collection at The Atlanta History Center, but the buildings, no matter how grand or ornate, were torn down or turned into scrap material. Evidence from that time remains in stone balustrades, which look like rock walls and were part of staircases leading to an exposition building. The city bought the land in 1904 and turned it into Piedmont Park.

Q: What’s the story behind the abandoned quarry or mine on the northwest side of Atlanta?

A: You'll dig this answer. That big hole in the ground near West Marietta Street is called the Bellwood Quarry, where mostly gravel was mined for decades. The quarry's sheer rock walls and reservoir are a strange site since it's so close to Atlanta, which bought the property in 2006 and has plans to gradually transform it into a park that will be on the new Beltline. The area's apocalyptic eeriness has provided an appropriate backdrop for "The Walking Dead" and "Vampire Diaries." They're among the shows and movies that have filmed around the quarry.