Cabbagetown, Atlanta: What It's Like to Live Here
On Atlanta's east side, Cabbagetown is one of several neighborhoods in the city with a rich history. Adjacent to Atlanta's oldest graveyard, Oakland Cemetery, Cabbagetown is connected to Inman Park via the Krog Street Tunnel, which is known for its street art and graffiti. Its cultural heritage is one of Southern Appalachia, of poor families who moved from the mountains of North Georgia to Atlanta to work in the textile mills there. The community is resilient, having survived urban decay, gentrification, large structure fires, floods and tornados over the years. Long-time residents still gather and socialize at the Savannah Street Neighborhood House.
There are differing stories about how the neighborhood got its name: In one tale, the moniker is said to have been derived from the presence of cabbage heads grown in the gardens of residents' yards. Another story says the name came from the number of grocer's trucks selling cabbages in the neighborhood. In yet another story, the driver of one of those trucks flipped while turning a sharp corner, spilling dozens of cabbages on the road.
The neighborhood's historic district, called simply Cabbagetown District, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The area is the location of one of the South's first textile processing mills, the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill, which was built on the former site of the Atlanta Rolling Mill. Surrounding the factory was a neighborhood of small cottages and one- and two-story shotgun shacks. After the mill closed in 1976, the neighborhood went into decline. During the 1990s, revitalization efforts ramped up, transforming the neighborhood into a community of art galleries, restaurants and shops. Many of the single-family homes still exist and have been renovated, and the mill itself has been converted into lofts, which have become popular with young adults seeking a neighborhood where they can walk to shops and restaurants.
The community is an artsy, hip place with an edge, and it attracts a diverse range of residents. A "wallkeepers committee" manages the artwork on outdoor walls in the neighborhood.
When the weather is good, residents can gather at Cabbagetown Park, located on Kirkwood Avenue, on the first and third Friday nights of each month for a picnic supper and movie. Groups also gather at the park for yoga and other exercise, and parents take their children to the playground.
Each November, the neighborhood hosts the Chomp and Stomp bluegrass and chili festival in Cabbagetown Park. This event draws to Cabbagetown more than 100 chili cooks, including individuals and restaurants, 65 artists and about 20,000 people. Proceeds benefit the neighborhood's parks and other public spaces. The festival also includes a 5k road race that attracts more than 15,000 runners.
The Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association is actively involved in historic preservation and land use, welcoming new residents and coordinating community events.