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Creative Loafing on L5P

Neighborhoods – How did Little Five Points get weird?

And how long can it stay that way?

In the mid-1970s, Majors says, half the neighborhood was vacant. The other half was “old mom-and-pop things that had been there forever.” But that quickly started to change as people started moving to the neighborhood.

“It was my type of energy that was going on,” Majors says. “A lot of artists, creative people, and students. And we all at one point kind of knew each other. You’d go to places and it would always be the same group. As the neighborhood living situation was evolving, the retail neighborhood started evolving. Everything was starting to grow. New energy was coming in and people were starting things.”

In the following years, Little Five Points would establish itself as Atlanta’s most eclectic, independent, and bohemian retail area, a shopping and entertainment district that catered to locals, OTPers, and tourists looking for offbeat items and up-and-coming bands, and drifters ranging from the down-on-their-luck to train kids looking for a handout. But for all the colorful murals that adorn the walls and dreadlocks that wave in the wind, L5P is not just an enclave of hippies, gutter punks, and punks — it’s arguably Atlanta’s most full-service community, with a grocery store, pharmacy, dentist, counselor, optometrist, pizza joint, shoe store, bicycle shop, and even a credit union. Some businesses have been located there 30 years.

Little Five Points is also in a peculiar spot. It’s sandwiched between two affluent neighborhoods in a booming corner of Atlanta. As more and more people move to the area, bringing with them their own ideas of community, the question comes to mind, as it has every time a new business that might not jibe with the retail district’s DNA opens nearby: How long can a neighborhood keep its personality?

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