Born in Georgia in 1873, Charles L. Chosewood was a colorful character who is remembered for his divisive legacy. Chosewood’s supporters championed him as an innovative entrepreneur with a good business sense. His critics argued he was a crook who lined his own pockets. Looking at his history, both groups may be right.
A well-known Atlanta businessman, Chosewood operated an amusement park known as White City, which opened in 1907. “White City” was a popular name for amusement parks at the time. The name came from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which featured a set of 14 all-white buildings nicknamed the “White City.” Chosewood’s amusement park boasted a circle swing, a Ferris wheel, a swimming pool, a lake, and even a roller coaster. Today, Parkside Elementary School sits on the site of the amusement park.
Chosewood soon moved from business into politics. In 1904, Chosewood was elected to represent Atlanta’s Third Ward on the Atlanta City Council. His time in office was not without some controversy. In 1909, Chosewood stabbed a man in White City. He was tried and acquitted of assault with intent to murder. Chosewood decided not to run for re-election in 1910 and began to pursue business interests in selling concessions at Grant Park.
Chosewood’s family worked with him in Grant Park and ran the concession business while C.L. did political work. Chosewood married Dora Elvira Smith on May 18, 1890, in Fulton County. They were both quite young, Charles was 17 and Dora was 15. The couple had five children during their 27-year marriage: Ethel, Ruby, Elise, Charles Jr., and Francis. Dora passed away in 1917.
In 1922, Chosewood was re-elected to the Atlanta City Council. He quickly made an enemy of future Atlanta legend, William B. Hartsfield. Hartsfield was in charge of the Third Ward Improvement Club. Hartsfield accused Chosewood and several other officials of profiting from a building project.
Chosewood fell under scrutiny again in 1930. There was a plan to relocate Chosewood Park (a residential area where many workers at the United States Penitentiary lived) from its original spot in south Atlanta to an area of 15 lots, some of which were connected to Atlanta City Council members. General Motors was looking at buying the area of Chosewood Park. Many suspected political corruption and bribery in the move. Clark Howell, a journalist at The Atlanta Constitution, wrote a series of articles on corrupt leaders in the city in 1930. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the series. Coincidentally, Chosewood and a number of other politicians chose not to run again in the next election.
Chosewood unsuccessfully ran for election in 1933 and returned to the Atlanta City Council in 1940. A member of the Atlanta City Council for over 30 years, Chosewood was the longest-serving councilman when he died in December 1954. C.L. Chosewood is buried with his wife at Oakland Cemetery on the East Hill across from Oakland’s new East Gate.
About the East Gate project:
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.
Postcard: Historic Postcard Collection, RG 48-2-5, Georgia Archives
Image of C.L. Chosewood in 1936: Thu, Sep 3, 1936 – 11 · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) · Newspapers.com
Feature image: Chosewood gravesite by CMullus, Findagrave.com