- Jon Waterhouse, Living Intown Magazine
If Atlanta had a campaign similar to “Keep Austin Weird,” Little Five Points would raise its freak flag high. Hipsters, hippies, tattooed rockers and clean-cut collegiates mingle amid indie shops and eateries of Atlanta’s answer to Haight-Ashbury.
This story originally appeared in the May/June 2016 edition of Living Intown Magazine.
Where else would you find a medical cannabis store, dubbed The Pot Shop, next to a police precinct? The likes of Sevananda Natural Foods Market and Psycho Sisters Vintage Clothing Store are beloved fixtures of the district.
While downtown’s Five Points intersection inspired the district’s nickname, today it technically has only four. Originally, Moreland Avenue (running north-south) and Euclid Avenue (running northeast-southwest) met at Seminole Avenue. The end of Seminole was converted into Findley Plaza, but today some consider McLendon Avenue, which stretches east of the Euclid-Moreland intersection, as the unofficial fifth point.
In the 1890s, the earliest of Atlanta’s streetcars rattled to life just south of the area. The trolley lines converged in Little Five Points, making it one of the first major shopping districts in the region. It thrived as a retail hub for decades and slowly cultivated a reputation for the arts.
In the mid-1960s, a proposed freeway through the middle of Little Five Points prompted many residents to flee. The project was abandoned, but the 1970s left Little Five in a state of economic and structural disrepair.
The 1980s saw a wave of gentrification as the retail presence found its second wind and home buyers began restoring the neglected Victorian-style houses. Area business owners rallied to form the Little Five Points Partnership to boost the local marketplace.
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Little Five Points’ bohemian allure became more mainstream, attracting suburban Atlanta visitors looking to soak up some intown cool. Live music venue The Point, now Clothing Warehouse, lured audiences with such rising rock acts as Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Ben Folds Five, Marilyn Manson and many others.
The Inman Park, Edgewood, Candler Park and Poncey-Highland neighborhoods surround Little Five Points. Dekalb Avenue bounds the district to the south; North Highland Avenue serves as a portion of the western border; Josephine Street runs near more than half of the eastern edge; and Mansfield Avenue provides the northern border.
According to City-Data.com, nearly 1,000 residents live in the 0.164 square miles of Little Five Points. A majority of the citizens are white, with a median household income of approximately $69,000.
The independent atmosphere attracted resident Rob Thompson, who owns Java Lords coffee shop on Euclid Avenue. He says that the existing buildings can’t accommodate potential big-box stores. “This leaves the spaces available for independent business owners,” he adds. “Little Five Points will never have that strip mall feel, and will continue to foster a unique and creative atmosphere.”
Originally a cinema built in 1940, this live music venue still features theater-style seating as well as a few tables and chairs. Late last year, Agon Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the Georgia Theatre in Athens, purchased the Variety and has plans for similar renovations.
1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. varietyplayhouse.com
Star Community Bar
This watering hole’s modest stage finds room for performances from country outlaws, white-knuckle rock stars and more. Its Monday night comedy shows occasionally attract national headliners to work on new material. On Wednesdays, Live Band Cowboy Karaoke invites guests to grab the mic and croon a country classic backed by Dry Gulch, a posse of seasoned musicians.
437 Moreland Ave. 404-681-9018. starbaratlanta.com
Since its founding in 1979, this playhouse — featuring a 200-seat main stage and a 90-seat black box space in back — has been arguably the city’s most adventurous theater, staging classics like “Waiting for Godot” and experimenting with new technologies and narrative techniques while introducing Atlanta to artists from around the world.
1105 Euclid Ave. 404-523-7847. 7stages.org
Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade
The neighborhood weirdness takes a spooky turn during the annual event. Not yet scheduled for 2016 at press time, the event includes an extensive roster of live music, art and food vendors, and an eye-popping procession of over-the-top floats and costumed participants.
The owners call it “an alternative superstore,” a fitting description for Little Five Point’s retail mothership, which includes approximately 10,000 square feet of eclectic, cool, funky and straight-up wacky apparel and footwear, as well as gifts and home goods. Looking for a corn on the cob-shaped stool, a Mastodon T-shirt, fishnet stockings, Japanese anime toys and an Alice in Wonderland cookie jar? All of those and more line the shelves and racks. Beginning in the early fall, it becomes a virtual Halloween headquarters when it kicks up its costume inventory. Celebrity shoppers have included Bono, Steven Tyler and Cyndi Lauper.
464 Moreland Ave. 404-577-3188. thejunkmansdaughter.com
This next-door neighbor to Junkman’s Daughter sells one of most time-honored form of hipster transportation, skateboards, as well as a la carte parts and supplies. Racks of T-shirts and shelves of board-friendly shoes, as well as chromatic socks and other apparel, help skaters look the part. Both rookies and vets will enjoy the DVD selection starring the best skaters on the planet.
466 Moreland Ave. 404-521-3510. stratosphereskateboards.com
This longtime refuge for serious music collectors keeps an inventory of vinyl, CDs and cassette tapes on hand, as well as competitively priced 45 singles. (A 50 cent single of The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” is hard to resist.)
432 Moreland Ave. 404-525-2275. waxnfacts.com.
This iron-on T-shirt shop blends the classic concept with contemporary cool. Customers choose from an exhaustive selection of designs, including a zombified Braves logo that reads “Atlanta Walkers.” The staff will even create iron-on transfers from your own graphics and slap them on a shirt.
1160 Euclid Ave. 404-222-6466. bang-on.com
The Vortex Bar & Grill
The massive skull-shaped entrance of the Vortex announces the culinary adventures that await in Little Five Points. The Coronary Bypass burgers, which sport their own trademark, attack the arteries with fried egg, bacon, mayo and more. Both the Double and Triple Coronary Bypass versions come stacked between a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches.
438 Moreland Ave. 404-688-1828. thevortexatl.com
Euclid Avenue Yacht Club
The Yacht Club epitomizes Little Five’s restaurant and bar scene. A regular stream of locals — from inked-up twentysomethings to grizzled barflies — ebb and flow through its doors. Some opt to coat their stomachs with barbecue, quesadillas, burgers and more before diving into a round of shots.
1136 Euclid Ave. 404-688-2582. theeayc.com
This more recent addition has a decidedly 1970s-style aura. The rooftop restaurant and bar, attached at the hip by its sister joint Cameli’s Pizza, finds guests enjoying cocktails, grub and the city skyline as DJs spin retro vinyl. The kitchen serves chicken pot pies and sloppy Joes, while Harvey Wallbangers and old fashioneds flow from the bar.
337 Moreland Ave. 404-522-1624. arcadial5p.com