- Curt Holman For the AJC
Stroll through Castleberry Hill, and you can’t help but notice Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the monolithic, monochromatic home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United.
Look in the stadium’s shadow and you’ll find Castleberry Hill to be literally one of the city’s most colorful and diverse neighborhoods. Tattoo shops, art galleries, studios and murals abound, such as the painted wall at the corner of Walker and Haynes streets that illustrates its long backstory.
Before the Civil War, the area was colorful to a fault. Peters Street, which divides the neighborhood, was home to a rough-and-tumble crowd in an enclave known as Snake Nation. Reportedly named for snake oil peddlers, Snake Nation was notorious for criminal activity, gambling, cockfighting and prostitution until it was burned to the ground after Atlanta’s 1851 mayoral election.
Following the demise of Snake Nation, the area sat quiet for years until merchant Daniel Castleberry opened a shop at Peters and Fair streets in the early 1900s. Eventually, the neighborhood came to be known as Castleberry Hill in his honor. The singular hill in the name is literal, referring to the highest point near the corner of Fair and Walker streets.
Castleberry Hill is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has increasingly become a destination for people seeking to make creative work or just enjoy it.
In easy walking distance of downtown and the Atlanta University Center, the borders of Castleberry Hill are defined by I-20 to the south, Northside Drive to the west, Ted Turner Drive to the east and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the north.
One of Atlanta’s most famous soul food restaurants, Paschal’s has been serving specialties like pork chops and peach cobbler since 1947. The original restaurant was opened by brothers James and Robert Paschal at 831 W. Hunter St. using a special recipe for their famous chicken. In the 1960s, Paschal’s became a meeting place for such civil rights leaders, politicians and artists as Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Martin Luther King Jr. Its current location at the western edge of Castleberry Hill opened in 2002.
A group of friends gathered for a pickup soccer game after watching the 2014 World Cup, and the Castleberry Hill Athletic Club was born. The nonprofit organization hosts community soccer matches and is working to convert a vacant lot in the neighborhood into a community soccer field. With more than 50 members, the group has its own jerseys and soccer scarves.
For $60 annually, you can join Castleberry Hill Athletic Club, with benefits including discounts at several local bars and restaurants. For $20, non-locals can become an “OTP Supporter” and receive discounts at the official CHAC store.
Once a month, the neighborhood’s galleries host a self-guided tour for viewing art, enjoying beverages and socializing. Information sheets and maps are posted the week of the event and are available in front of Bottle Rocket the night of the Stroll.
In addition to serving a Mexican menu, No Mas! Cantina provides a landmark for local residents and includes an art gallery called Escape. Inside, customers can find the remnants of an old rail tunnel, rumored to be a hub of supernatural activity. During Art Stroll, No Mas! features Latino artists.
Owned by brothers and former contractors Peter and Michael Jakob, Elliott Street Deli & Pub opened in 2006. The brothers live upstairs, run an iron foundry in the back and a live music venue known as The 51. Coinciding with the Art Stroll, Elliott Street Pub hosts the Iron Pour, which allows patrons to create cast-iron art.View full experience