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, and early settler, possibly the winner of land lot 84 in the lottery of 1821. In the late 1840s and early 1850s, "Snake Nation," a name of unknown derivation, was commonly used by the public press to identify "a settlement along Peters Street (earlier, White Hall Road) from the railroad crossing south to Fair Street [that was] devoted almost entirely to the criminal and immoral element."
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.
Between 1950 and 1980, industry and interest left as trade and residential growth moved to the suburbs. Many of the buildings were abandoned for new facilities. Some single-family residences have endured within the neighborhood, and a few businesses have continued to operate for decades. 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, which contains the largest and best concentrated remnant of railroad buildings in Atlanta. 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.
Information provided courtesy of the Castleberry Hill neighborhood organization located here.