AJC photo vault


1994 – Gridlock in Atlanta caused by Freaknik interfered with weddings, work schedules and even a prom. The free-form festival brought the central city to its knees. At its peak in 1994 and 1995, more than 200,000 mostly black college students would flock to Atlanta, causing massive traffic jams as men would literally get out of their cars to taunt, videotape or grope women. But by the time it ended in 1999, politicians and police had made movement in Atlanta so restrictive that for the students, Freaknik was hardly worth it anymore. “I was disappointed by what it became,” said Sharon Toomer, one of the founders of Freaknik. “Its original purpose was to be an annual event to encourage camaraderie between historically black colleges. It was a rare opportunity for black college students to get together." 

During the 1982-1983 school year, Toomer was a freshman at Spelman College and a member of the D.C. Metro Club. Toomer said that as spring break approached the club planned a small picnic on campus for students who could not afford to go home. About 50 people showed up and enjoyed barbecue chicken, Go Go music and Parliament Funkadelic.

"It was very innocent,” Toomer said. “Even the name. Throughout the year, we had this thing about the Freak. There was a dance called "The Freak,” Rick James had a song out called “Super Freak,” and Chic had “Le Freak.” So we named it Freaknik. That was it. It was a sign of the music at the time.“Photo by Johnny Crawford from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution archives and text from a story by Ernie Suggs

Not too many tubas

“December 17, 1999 - CNN Center hosted Atlanta’s Tuba Christmas this year. It was the 13th annual for the Atlanta area and the 26th worldwide one. Area Tuba players from all backgrounds were invited to play. Many traditional Christmas Carols and songs were performed. (John Spink/AJC Staff).” Tuba Christmas began as a tribute to the late William J. Bell, tuba player/mentor/teacher. The first one took place at the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza in New York in 1974.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Wartime dentists

Aug 25, 1943–The Atlanta-Southern Dental College is now almost altogether a training institution for the armed forces. Of the 374 students, 341 are members of the Army and Navy training units taking as accelerated three-year course leading to commissions. These students are actually at work on civilian patients—real, live and kicking.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution archive

The stars visit Cyclorama

Dec 16, 1939–Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia DeHaviland and George Simons at Atlanta Cyclorama during the Gone with the Wind premiere. The cyclorama is a panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta that is 42 feet tall and 358 feet in circumference. It is located in Grant Park and has been shown there since 1893. After Clark Gable visited the Cyclorama, Mayor William B. Hartsfield had the artist make a figure of a Union corpse with a face painted to resemble Gable’s Rhett Butler.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution photographic archive

Robin Hood in Decatur

“April, 1966 - Most southpaws will probably be found on the baseball diamond these spring days. However, here’s Robin Woltz displaying a left-handed technique in the sport of archery. Robin is a sophomore at Agnes Scott College and a good shot with the bow. (Bill Wilson/AJC Staff).” According to the 1966 Agnes Scott yearbook Silhouette, in addition to archery, Woltz was majoring in Spanish and was a member of the Curriculum Committee, Arts Council, and Glee Club.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia’s do-it-all athlete: Charlie Trippi

University of Georgia football star Charlie Trippi poses for the camera in the 1940s. The Pennsylvania native became a Peach State hero for his play on the gridiron in Athens and the baseball diamond in Atlanta.

Pro football Hall of Famer Charley Trippi is a legend among Georgia Bulldogs fans and was no slouch as a member of the old Atlanta Crackers baseball team, either. Here’s a historic look back at this versatile athlete.

Flannery O'Conner with her peacock

July 1962–Flannery O’Connor on crutches, with one of her peacocks in Milledgeville, Georgia. In 1951, O’Connor was diagnosed with Lupus and returned to Andalusia where she took care of various species of birds. In a 1961 essay entitled “The King of the Birds” she writes about her peacocks and you can see peacocks images in many of her books.

photo by Joe McTyre

A shooting in a sanctuary

“Atlanta, Ga. - June 30, 1974 - Scene outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church after the shooting of Mrs. Alberta King, mother of Martin Luther King Jr. (Bill Mahan/AJC staff)” Alberta Williams King, 70, who was seated at the church organ playing “The Lord’s Prayer,” was killed, as was Deacon Edward Boykin, 69, by a visitor to the church. A woman in the congregation was wounded. The killer was sentenced to life in prison and he died of a stroke in a Georgia prison cell in 1995.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Ice Storm

Jan 31, 1908- Copy of a negative of men standing beside a streetcar on North Green Street during an ice storm in Gainesville, Ga.This enclosed winter car ran from the Southern Railway depot at the end of Main Street to Chattahoochee Park at the end of Riverside Drive. Streetcars pulled by horses first made their appearance in Gainesville in 1874. The first streetcars to run on electric rails were seen in 1903. Over the years, the lines were expanded. In 1928, some of the tracks in the business district were taken up. During World War II, the rest of them were removed so that the materials could be used in the war effort.  Go to myajc.com for more images from ice storms in Georgia through the years.

Photo by Ramsey Wiles from the AJC archives

Let the Games begin

July 19, 1996—The opening ceremony at the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games at Centennial Olympic Stadium hosted an audience of over 80,000 people and was broadcast to 3.5 billion world-wide. The highlight of the night was when boxing legend Muhammad Ali lit the torch to officially start the games. It was a proud moment for Atlanta. The games were quickly overshadowed by poor transportation and the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.

The Olympics Games in Sochi begins tomorrow and there has been a lot of controversy already surrounding their games. Go to ajc.com for the latest updates throughout the games.

Photo by Allen Eyestone from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution archive

‘We Ain’t Mad With Nobody’

Sept. 19, 1980 – ‘We Ain’t Mad With Nobody’ epitomizes the unique Little Five Points business model, where a store is also a statement.

In this edition of our Flashback Fotos series, we take a look at Atlanta’s quirkiest neighborhood, Little Five Points. In a city boasting a patchwork of eclectic areas, L5P has always stood out from the rest as a haven for a colorful assortment of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and various others who opted to truly follow their bliss. And Little Five Points has always done its own thing with a fabulously Southern flair. Go to myajc.com to trip back in time to view Little Five Points through the lenses of our Atlanta Journal-Constitution photographers during the late ‘70s and early '80s when the area was steadily developing into the robust L5P we know and love today.

 Photo by Jerome McClendon

Like father like sons

Jan 21, 1980 - A father and his two sons support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and stand by as the Georgia Senate votes. The Georgia State legislature defeated ERA 32 to 23.

The ERA was a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. It was originally introduced to congress in 1923 and in 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and went to state legislatures for ratification. 

Atlanta Journal-Constitution photographic archive

The Pink Pig Monorail

Nov 26, 1994—Peering from the belly of Percival Pig, L. Woodall, 4, gets ready for a ride atop the Downtown Rich’s. Rich’s department store’s Christmas event, the Pink Pig, a child-scaled monorail train-ride, came to downtown Atlanta, Georgia stores in the 1950s and was moved to the “Festival of Trees” at the Georgia World Congress Center in the 1990s after the store closed in 1991. Today, children can visit Macy’s at Lenox Mall.

Photo by Michael A. Schwarz

Keeping the peace in Alma

“Placing high again in home town contest was no accident as Alma citizens carried out more improvements. A new police car was added to the city’s law enforcement equipment. (File) 1954” Alma’s new police car was a Ford Mainline. It was manufactured from 1952 to 1956. Alma is in Bacon County in southeast Georgia, well below Macon and north of Waycross. The town is named for the wife of a traveling salesman who happened to pass through at just the right time.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It’s Murphy by a millimeter

“Murphy scores. May, 1979 – Atlanta, Ga.: - Braves’ Dale Murphy avoids the tag by Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager and scores. (Steve Deal/AJC Staff).”

Murphy was the Braves’ first-round pick in the 1974 draft. 1979 was the first year management decided that maybe catcher wasn’t the perfect position for him. This was his first season as a first baseman. He played in the outfield in 1980 and finally got to be a first baseman for an entire season two years later.

This is Murphy’s last year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame. The betting is that Murph won’t make it. The AJC’s Jeff Schultz thinks that’s bad, especially considering other players who are eligible this year. AJC Braves beat writer David O'Brien makes the case for Murph.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Maps upstairs, and jail downstairs

“June, 1970 - Roswell, Ga. City Hall. (Robert Connell/AJC Staff)” Of course the jail is downstairs. It looks like Roswell’s approach to governing (and keeping the peace) was a little more casual back in 1970. But the city was trading on its history even then. A sign shot by the same photographer on the same day reads “Welcome to historic Roswell. Stop With Us. See our colonial homes. Churches. Landmarks. Free maps & information at City Hall.” Roswell got its current “Taj Mahal” city hall in 1991.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Gone with the fire

“Spotlights add to the excitement that reigned in front of Atlanta’s Loew’s Grand theater for the Friday night, December 15, 1939 premiere of the Civil War epic film ’Gone With The Wind.’ (AJC Staff Photo).” According to an AJC article, the “spotlights” were actually anti-aircraft lights. 2,031 ticket holders - most of whom had paid an extravagant $10 saw the movie along with Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Margaret Mitchell, and other VIPs. About 30,000 people lined the streets around the theater to get a glimpse of a star or just be part of the magic. The theater was a star too. It began life as the Grand Opera House, built in 1893 by Laurent DeGive. Loew’s leased the building in 1916. The Grand closed in 1977 and caught fire in January, 1978. Although the shell was still standing, it was torn down.

View a gallery of GWTW photos on ajc.com.

Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.