Cabbagetown is a neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) located south of Inman Park, east of Oakland Cemetery, north of Grant Park and west of Reynoldstown.
The Atlanta Rolling Mill
was destroyed after the Battle of Atlanta
and on its site the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill
began operations in 1881 and Cabbagetown was built as the surrounding mill town
and was the first textile processing mills built in the south. Its primary product was cotton bags for packaging agricultural products. Built during a period when many industries were relocating to the post-Reconstruction
South in search of cheap labor, it opened shortly following the International Cotton Exposition
, which was held in Atlanta in an effort to attract investment to the region. The mill was owned and operated by Jacob Elsas, a German Jewish
immigrant. Its work force consisted of poor whites recruited from the Appalachian
region of north Georgia
. Elsas built a small community of one and two-story shotgun houses
and cottage-style houses surrounding the mill.
Like most mill towns, the streets are extremely narrow with short blocks and lots of intersections.
At its height the mill employed 2,600 people. A protracted strike in 1914-15 failed to unionize the factory's workforce. For over half a century Cabbagetown remained home to a tight-knit, homogenous, and semi-isolated community of people whose lives were anchored by the mill, until it closed in 1977. Afterwards, the neighborhood went into a steep decline which didn't end until Atlanta's intown renaissance of the mid-1990s. The mill itself was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Lately, Cabbagetown is an area of tremendous growth sparked by an influx of artists in the 1980s, including Panorama Ray
who operated a photo gallery on the main drag, Carroll Street. Since his death in 1997, Carroll Street has become the home of some nice restaurants and makes a great people-watching spot.
Beginning in 1996, the mill itself has been renovated into the nation’s largest residential loft community — the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts — which houses everyone from artists and musicians to business professionals. In April 1999 a 5-alarm fire severely damaged the east building which was still being renovated and several nearby homes were destroyed. The lofts nevertheless opened the following year. However, a tornado in March 2008 damaged parts of the loft complex and many of the historic homes and businesses in Cabbagetown.
The neighborhood's main festival is the Cabbagetown Reunion, known colloquially by long time residents and displaced residents as "the vegetable", which takes place in the summer. The Chomp and Stomp bluegrass and chili festival takes place in November.
Origins of the name
There are a few explanations as to how the neighborhood received its name. One is that the mostly transplanted poor Appalachian residents (largely of Scots-Irish
descent) who worked in the nearby Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill
, would grow cabbages in the front yards of their shotgun houses, and one could distinctly smell the odor of cooking cabbage coming from the neighborhood. This term was used originally with derision by people outside the neighborhood, but it soon became a label of pride for the people who lived there.
Another explanation is that a train carrying a load of cabbages derailed by the mill adjacent to the neighborhood, and the poor residents quickly accumulated the cabbages, and used them in just about every meal.
A variation of this legend has a Ford Model T taking a sharp turn at one of the main intersections of Cabbagetown, and flipping over spilling its cargo of cabbages across the street. Someone yelled "Free Cabbages!" and they were soon carted away by the residents.
A third explanation of the name is that a local cab company operating off Memorial Drive gave nicknames to various neighborhoods that they serviced. The mill town was called Cabbagetown (maybe because of the cooking cabbage) and it stuck.
Yet another story involves a neighborhood baseball team.
References in the Atlanta History Center also show references to the name Pearl Park. Pearl was the daughter of a developer who built houses directly to the east of the mill houses in the area of modern day Pearl Street.
Tornado of March 2008
On the night of Friday, March 14th an F2 tornado swept across Atlanta from the Western side damaging buildings from the Georgia Dome & CNN Center across downtown and through several neighborhoods and historic Oakland Cemetery. Many homes in Cabbagetown were damaged and destroyed, and the Fulton Mill condo complex lost large portions of the roof and top floor.