The Lost Malls of Atlanta

Georgia's capital city has had twenty-seven mall-type shopping centers developed in its environs since the first one opened for business in February 1959. Three of these have been demolished, with one still operating in a greatly reduced (non-regional) capacity. The four centers that will be covered in our LOST MALLS-ATLANTA section are listed as follows, with their original names being used;

*STEWART-LAKEWOOD CENTER [1959 to present]
*COLUMBIA MALL [1965-2007]
*PARKAIRE MALL [1974-1986]

A fifth LOST MALLS-ATLANTA shopping hub is not included in this particular write-up. RIO SHOPPING CENTER was officially dedicated in April 1989. This unorthodox (for Atlanta) mini-mall lasted only 11 years and was bulldozed in the year 2000. It has an article on our our SHOPPING MALL MUSEUM site.

A map depicting LOST MALLS in the environs of Georgia's capital. Dated to 1974, it shows the city's failed shopping centers with gray squares. Other suburban-style malls in business at the time are indicated with black squares. As one can see, by 1974 Atlanta was already over-malled.
Click on image for a larger view

Atlanta's current freeway system opened in segments. The Northwest Expressway, a portion of today's Interstates 75 and 85 (extending between Piedmont Avenue and Northside Drive), was dedicated in 1951. Another section of "I-75" was the final portion of the region's current superhighway system. It was completed through Marietta in 1974. A tollway section of the Georgia 400 -or "Alpharetta Autobahn"- opened to traffic in 1993.

The first "freeway friendly" mall in the metro area -GREENBRIAR CENTER- had opened for business in September 1965.

Heavy rail transit, under the auspices of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or MARTA, began with a 6.7 route mile starter line, dedicated in June 1979. New segments of the MARTA rail system were inaugurated in 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2000. Today's system extends for 47.6 route miles and serves thirty-eight station stops.

Major shopping hubs served by MARTA rail include LENOX SQUARE, MALL AT PEACHTREE CENTER and PERIMETER MALL.

Given the political climate in Georgia, it appears unlikely that the MARTA heavy rail system will ever be expanded any further. Several supplemental light rail projects have been considered, but it is also unlikely that any of these will be built.