Changes over time across the landscape

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

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Augustus Hurt Plantation marker, erected by the Georgia Historical Commission in 1956, discusses events that occurred here in July 1864.

Human-inhabited landscapes usually are continuously changed.

This means that perhaps not year-to-year, but certainly generationally, they are changed.

The change may be deliberate land-management decisions, as in the construction of roads or buildings, or clearing for fields—or the opposite, allowing old fields to become brush- and tree-covered again.

Other change may be due to forces of nature, like erosion.

This Weekly Ponder focuses on one hill about two miles east-northeast of downtown Atlanta. It’s a piece of landscape that has undergone major changes in the last two centuries.

Today, two adjacent historical markers on the hilltop discuss the Augustus Hurt Plantation and home. The Hurt-era buildings are all gone now, most recently engulfed by the expansion of Atlanta in the late 1800s.

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Augustus Hurt House marker, noting that the residence was built in 1858 and destroyed in 1864, after which this hill was occupied by Union forces.

The background of the above photograph hints at the current landuse of this part of the Hurt Plantation grounds.

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This area now includes the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum and Carter Center, just east of downtown Atlanta in what is now called the Poncey-Highland neighborhood. The neighborhood was established in the very early 1900s, when this rolling area was broken up into residential and commercial lots and threaded with streets.

This illustrates three distinct waves of historic human occupation and use of this hill:

    Hurt House and Plantation;

    Poncey-Highland neighborhood; and the

    Carter Center, Library, and Museum.

This hilltop hosts layers of history that often are invisible today.

Can you identify other layers of history for this location? Can you identify multiple layers of the past in a place near where you live or go to school?

Where to find it