This summer, construction of an East Gate near the corner of Boulevard and Memorial will help reestablish the Cemetery’s connection with the historic Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown neighborhoods. Once finished, the new East Gate will offer easier access to the cemetery for residents of Cabbagetown and Grant Park as well as for folks coming from the BeltLine.
It will also make visiting the East Hill (currently being restored), Jewish Hill, the African American Burial Grounds, and Potter’s Field more convenient. Wayfinding signage will help orient visitors coming through the gate, and benches and pet stations will add to the visitor experience. We anticipate that the gate will be completed this summer.
PROJECT IN PROGRESS
Total Cost: $85,000
A History of Access to Oakland from the East
In the first decade of the 1900s, the stone wall along the Cemetery’s eastern border (along Boulevard) was heightened, and the city reconstructed an “unscalable” gate to be kept locked “for the protection of the cemetery.” “This was an absolute necessity,” says The Atlanta Constitution on August 5, 1908, “in view of the distance and the inadequacy of police protection.”
Reflecting modern concerns, citizens complained that it was not right that they were “forced to walk anywhere from half a mile to a mile around to reach the Hunter Street gate [the current main gate at Oakland Avenue and MLK].” One group even threatened to break down the gate at night if it wasn’t opened.
Later that same year, the city council relented somewhat. They decided that the Boulevard gate would not be reopened, but the small locked gates on Fair Street and Decatur Street along the railroad tracks would be kept open. The gate on Boulevard, however, would remain closed, and was later removed. Public access to Oakland for visitors coming from the east was permanently reduced.
Construction Plan & Progress
A portion of the existing brick wall on Oakland’s southern border will be deconstructed, and salvaged bricks will be used in the new gateway. Two brick columns capped with granite will frame an opening spanned by a double swing gate modeled Oakland’s historic gates.
In addition to the new gate, this area will see the introduction of new user amenities including park benches, pet stations, and wayfinding signage, along with significant restoration efforts to improve visitors’ experience and safety.
Historic Oakland Foundation has received funding for this project through the Aderhold Family Foundation and the Park Pride Community Building Grant program. The Foundation is proud to partner with these two organizations that represent the Atlanta communities served by Oakland Cemetery.
Invest and Honor
As we launch the East Gate project, community engagement and support is critical. Financial support from donors like you will allow us to install signage, trash cans, and other visitor amenities at the East Gate.