East of downtown Atlanta, African Americans established a vibrant business and entertainment district along Auburn Avenue.
Pulled by common interests and pushed by increasingly restrictive segregation laws, it became the center of black opportunity, success, and social life in the South. By 1900, ten black businesses and two African American physicians operated on the street. Auburn Avenue received the designation “Sweet Auburn” from John Wesley Dobbs due to the street’s association as a place of African American community achievement.
Leaders such as Alonzo Herndon and Heman E. Perry advanced Auburn Avenue’s reputation as a national center of black commerce. Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Standard Life, and Citizens Trust Bank acted as the “three-legged stool of black finance.” The area’s business district included restaurants, lawyers’ and doctors’ offices, insurance companies, banks, lodges, churches, funeral homes, shoeshine stands, clubs, drugstores, and other businesses.
Sweet Auburn was also home to the nation’s first African American daily newspaper, the Atlanta Daily World, founded in 1928 by W.A. Scott. The Scott family eventually grew a syndicate of fifty newspapers resulting in one of the largest black-owned businesses in the nation.
Elected mayor of Atlanta in 1973, Maynard Jackson was the first African American to be mayor of a major Southern city.