During the first 100 years of its operation, Oakland Cemetery grew from a six-acre tract of farmland to its current footprint of 48 acres. By the turn of the 20th century, Oakland had seen a steady decline in both generated revenue and active burials, mainly due to its lack of available land. Individual families that owned lots in Oakland were expected to manage lot upkeep themselves, but this was not always feasible. With a lack of active involvement from lot owners and decedents, the small staff of Oakland Cemetery struggled to maintain the original splendor of the sprawling grounds.
This article, originally published in the Sunday edition of The Atlanta Constitution on January 30, 1944, discussed a proposal to generate income for the cemetery with the acquisition of new land, liquidation of some existing lots, and the addition of new burial spaces for sale. These plans never came to fruition. One can only speculate as to the cause; perhaps the optimism of a “post-war beautification” was premature with the end of World War II still nearly a year and a half away.
These days, the lot for the proposed expansion is a part of the Memorial Drive Greenway project. Hunter Street was renamed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which ends at the current day main gate of Oakland. Plans for the expansion of Grant Street were seen through, and Oakland Avenue now runs along the length of the west wall of Oakland Cemetery.
Efforts to beautify Memorial Drive and improve the neighborhood have seen great success in recent years, and the future of both Oakland Cemetery and the surrounding neighborhoods looks bright.