The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a historic African-American neighborhood along and surrounding Auburn Avenue, east of Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The name Sweet Auburn was coined by John Wesley Dobbs, referring to the "richest Negro street in the world."
The first settlement here was on land formerly occupied by Union troops and was called Shermantown for many years. It developed quickly being near the Georgia Railroad and in 1879 was at the endpoint of a newly graded road called simply Boulevard, which led from the railroad to North Avenue near Ponce de Leon Avenue and Angier Springs.
The rise of Auburn Avenue as "the" black business district in Atlanta was to a great extent an outcome of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. Prior to this time black businesses operated largely in downtown Atlanta — a business district integrated as far as business ownership was concerned.
Sweet Auburn was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. However, like so many other inner-city neighborhoods, Sweet Auburn fell victim to lack of investment, heavy, widespread crime, homelessness, and abandonment, compounded by construction of the Downtown Connector freeway that split it in two. In 1992 the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized that it was one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and, in 2005, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation included the area in its 2006 list of Places in Peril. The Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) was formed to turn the trend around, starting with houses surrounding the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and working outward. The city of Atlanta is currently building the Atlanta Streetcar, a line that creates a loop connecting the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site to downtown and the tourist attractions of Centennial Olympic Park. The streetcar with travel east along Edgewood Avenue and west along Auburn Ave.
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