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American Lives

Motor Hotel Postcards of Atlanta (Georgia)

by Laurie Stevens & Peter Kessler, 27 July 2021


Gary's Motel, AAA United Motor Courts, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Gary's Motel, AAA United Motor Courts, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'Gary's finest in motel comfort, Atlanta, GA. 2275 Stewart Ave, S W Calhoun 1959, US Highway 41-19. Cafes nearby. Stop once... You'll stop again!'

'Tichnor quality views', Tichnor Bros Inc, Boston, Mass.

A 1979 classified advert for Gary's Motel in Atlanta's newspaper displayed an immediate opening for a 'Night Manager': 'Mature, married, aggressive couple to live-in'. The addition of 'aggressive' perhaps displays something of the location's character!

This motel went the way of many on Stewart Avenue, at least some of which became blighted dens of prostitution and crime. Gary's was demolished in 1996.

Stewart Avenue is part of US Hwy 41. The 'Stewart' in question was one of Atlanta's first residents, Andrew P Stewart. Before the arrival of interstate highways this highway was how everyone in the north reached Florida. A great many motor courts and motels date from the heyday of this traffic.

Stewart Avenue was renamed in 1997 an attempt to rehabilitate the area, becoming Metropolitan Avenue due to the area's 'red-light district' reputation, especially for prostitution activity in motels. Despite the name change, prostitution remains a problem in the area.

Atlanta Airport Terminal Building, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Atlanta Airport Terminal Building, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'Atlanta's multimillion-dollar airport terminal building is magnificent at night' - so states the postcard - 'when this golden light floods the vaulted arches of its unusual roof. For two hours each midday, the municipal landing field is the busiest in the whole country.'

Color photo by Kenneth Rogers. Mirro-Krome postcard by H S Crocker Co Inc, San Francisco, California.

This was Atlanta's fourth in a succession of airport terminals. It opened in May of 1961 and was demolished in 1983, lasting just over twenty years. Atlanta claimed to be the country's busiest airport, usually between noon and 2:00pm each day, with more than two million passengers passing through in 1957 alone.

Construction for this terminal began in late 1957 and cost $21 million dollars. Its demolition paved the way for expanded airport cargo facilities and a hotel-complex on the original terminal's 23-acre site (9.3 hectares). Yet newer, much larger domestic and international terminals took its place in serving passengers.

Currently, it is known as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, named after two previous mayors. It covers 4,700 acres (1,902 hectares) of land and has five parallel runways. It has been the 'World's Busiest Airport' in terms of passenger traffic, off and on, vying often with Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, until 2019. It lost its title in 2020 due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Holiday Inn Northwest, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Holiday Inn Northwest, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'1810 Howell Mill Road'. Restaurant - Swimming Pool - Free TV. Advance TWX reservations.'

Curteich Color 3-D natural color reproduction.

Holiday Inn Northwest opened in 1961, five miles (eight kilometers) northwest of the center of downtown Atlanta, on Howell Mill Road, at the interchange with the new 'Northwest Highway' - Interstate 75.

For years thereafter it hosted traveling guests who would use it for its confirmed levels of quality. The location was also a popular events space, hosting various seminars in 'The Old South Room', auctions of 'damaged Oriental rugs' and antiques, and various meetings and presentations which included one by the president of 'Sykes Hernia Control Service', out of Chicago.

By 1991, the designation of 'Holiday Inn Northwest' had gone to another property about ten miles further out on I-75. Today the site is the location of Piedmont West, a medical services satellite in the Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare hospital organization.

Americana Motor Hotel, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Americana Motor Hotel, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'Spring at Carnegie Way. In the center of downtown Atlanta: 350 luxury rooms... meeting rooms, swimming pool, free parking, two beverage lounges, two restaurants.'

Stein Craftsmen, 2161 Monroe Drive, NE Atlanta, GA.

The Americana Motor Hotel first opened at 160 Spring Street in 1962. It is Atlanta's longest continuously operating hotel.

The founders, Drs Marvin and Irving Goldstein, became involved in the civil rights movement, treating the children and family of Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King Jr, as well as the families of other civil rights leaders.

See more: Americana Motor Hotel.

Atlanta Central TraveLodge, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Atlanta Central TraveLodge, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'311 Courtland St N E - Located at Courtland Street Exit of Interstate Routes 75 and 85 in Downtown Atlanta. Heated Pool - Covered Parking - Elevator to All Levels - T.V. - Radio, AM-FM - Central Heat and Air Conditioning - "Beauty Rest" Extra Length Beds - Direct Dial Phones - Family Accommodations, Close to everything in Downtown Atlanta. A member of the world's largest network of fine motels.'

Curteichcolor, 3-D natural color repro.

This building is still operational, albeit as a Motel 6 - another budget brand. Travelodge (its modern spelling) was one of the first motel chains in the US, incorporated in 1939. This location dates from the mid-1960s and was in operation as a Travelodge at least until the mid-1980s.

See more: Atlanta Central Travelodge.

Atlanta Marriott Motor Hotel, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Atlanta Marriott Motor Hotel, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'This is living... this is Marriott. Courtland & Cain Streets. Directly off the Expressway - two blocks from downtown. 800 beautifully appointed guest rooms. Fairfield Inn Restaurant. Sirloin & Saddle and Harbour House specialty restaurants. Three Cocktail Lounges - Convention Facilities for 3 to 3000.'

Hannau-Robinson Inc, Orlando, FL and New York.

This hotel was big news when it opened. Atlanta was keen to establish itself as a convention hub. At the time it was the world's largest hotel in terms of covered square footage.

See more: Atlanta Marriott Motor Hotel.

Albert Pick Motor Inn, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Albert Pick Motor Inn, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'1152 Spring Street NW. From I-75 & I-85 Take 10th St Exit. 210 Air-conditioned rooms, all with color TV and FM radio. Swimming pool. Dining room, cocktail lounge. Free parking. No room charge for children. Ideal meeting facilities.'

Curteichcolor 3-D natural color reproduction.

Albert Pick Hotels and Motor Inns formed a chain of fifteen locations throughout the US, based out of Chicago. Since demolished, its plot was for many years a vacant lot, the result of a Georgia Department of Transportation project to rebuild the 14th Street bridge over Atlanta's Downtown Connector (Interstates 85 and 75 joined in the center of the city).

Today, a luxury high-rise tower is going up there, and in many other areas nearby in the northern part of Midtown.

Atlanta TraveLodge, 1641 Peachtree St, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Atlanta TraveLodge, 1641 Peachtree St, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'60 Units, Air Conditioned, Heated Pool, Television, Telephones. On Peachtree St at intersection of US 41, 23 and 19... A few blocks from US 29 and 78. Mere minutes from everything.'

S C Early, Photographer, Atlanta 5, GA. Published by Dexter Press Inc, West Nyack, New York

This is located right near the Brookwood area of Atlanta, on the city's main drag in a prime area between Midtown and Buckhead, and less than half-a-mile (0.8 kilometers) from the Southern Railway station, now served by Amtrak, Atlanta's only functioning passenger terminal.

It is also very near Interstate 85 and also The Temple, which houses Atlanta's oldest Jewish congregation (1860). Today the motel still stands, a little out of place as one of the Motel 6 value chain locations.

The Skyline Motel, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

The Skyline Motel, On US Highway 41 North, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'1375 Northside Drive NW, Modern, Air-Conditioned and Radiant Heated rooms designed for your comfort and convenience. Single and Double rooms with Tile Baths. A few kitchen Units available. 1 Mile North of Downtown Atlanta on US 41 By-Pass.'

Ed Robinson, Atlanta, GA.

This is another of the US Highway 41 motor courts for Florida-bound travelers, The Skyline Motel was right next door to the Cherokee Rose Motel Court on one side (since demolished).

On the opposite side is a long-standing liquor store, Northside Drive Liquor Store, one of multiple businesses along that street which were owned by stock car racing legend, Raymond Parks. Included in several racing halls of fame, Parks owned several race cars, including the one which won NASCAR's first championship in 1949.

Across the street is the Atlanta Water Works campus, dating from the 1890s. Today the site of the Skyline Motel is an Intown Suites Extended Stay motel. The liquor store remains.

Rodeway Inns of America, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Rodeway Inns of America, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'144 14th St (At exit from Interstate Hwys I-75 & I-85). 80 Units, Swimming Pool, air-conditioned and Color TV. Old fashioned Hospitality - Restaurant - Cocktail Lounge, National Reservation Service.'

Curteichcolor 3-D Natural Color Reproduction.

Established in 1962, Rodeway Inns of America is a franchise of about 578 locations. This one is near the north end of the Midtown district of Atlanta, facing and immediately parallel to I-75. In 1965 it featured nightly entertainment in Yohannon's Restaurant and Lounge, one of three locations in the city. The building was demolished in the 2000s and is currently a vacant lot, although other lodgings survive nearby.

Old South Motel, postcard, Atlanta, GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Old South Motel, postcard, Atlanta, GA.

'331 Cleveland Ave SW. At South Expressway on US 41 and 19, Interstate 75 and 85. At airport connector and close to downtown. 103 air conditioned units with TV, Phones, Pool, beautifully landscaped ground. Ideal for families. Restaurant serving home-type meals.'

Stein Craftsmen, 2161 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, GA.

Less than half-a-mile (0.8 kilometers) from Interstate 75 (see Gilbert Cemetery at the southbound entry ramp). The motel was demolished in 1981 and the site is currently a semi-wooded area which is located adjacent to the Cleveland Avenue Elementary School, part of the Atlanta Public Schools system, which is most likely the single-story building seen to the rear of this postcard.

See more: Gilbert Cemetery.

Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge-Restaurant, Atlanta Airport, postcard, Atlanta GA
Photo © The History Files Collection

Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge-Restaurant, Atlanta Airport, postcard, Atlanta GA.

'1377 Virginia Avenue, located on I-85 South at Virginia Avenue exit. 200 luxury climate-controlled rooms, Rum Keg Pub Lounge, meeting rooms, heated pool, and all color tv. Courtesy car service for airport use and rental car agency in lobby.'

Photo by Jos H Allen Jr. Industrial Photography Inc, PO Box 5413, Station E, Atlanta, Georgia 688-1646.

Located immediately to the north-west of the periphery of Hartstfield-Jackson International Airport, this building is the current location of a Motel 6, a value chain, and many of the original building's features are intact.

Starting as a restaurant chain which was in business for ninety years and was the largest in the US during the 60s and 70s, 'HoJo' as it came to be known became synonymous with travel for American motorists and vacationers thanks to their ubiquitous outdoor advertising displays. Howard Johnson's is now part of the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts group.

Main Sources

The Atlanta Constitution (now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper):
Gary's Motel: 8 May 1979
Atlanta Marriott: 31 January 1963
Skyline Motel: 30 April 2002

Franklin Garrett: Atlanta and Environs: Volume II (University of Georgia Press, 1969)

Atlanta History Center

City of Atlanta


Images and text copyright © P L Kessler, Laurie Stevens, & the History Files except where stated. An original feature for the History Files: American Lives.