What's In A Name? | Buttermilk Bottom

Jun 28, 2018

This summer on All Things Considered we’re telling stories about some of Atlanta’s most interesting names.

Host Rickey Bevington takes your submissions and then brings you the history behind the places Atlantans call home.

We’re calling the project “What’s In A Name?”

Today, we look at the lost Atlanta neighborhood of Buttermilk Bottom.



In 1973, funk group “The Atlanta Spirit” came out with this song memorializing the African American neighborhood that had been razed a decade earlier.


City planners bulldozed hundreds of homes and businesses just south of what’s now Midtown to make way for the Atlanta Civic Center.


As the lyrics of the Atlanta Spirit song reflect, Buttermilk Bottom was considered a slum. Here’s a 2013 oral history from Atlantan Bailey Barash. As a child, she would visit Buttermilk Bottom where her family ran a hardware store.



The children and the adults were in rags. The streets off the main streets were still dirt. The grand houses and the shacks that surrounded them were run down and the outhouses were still there.

One theory for the source of the name “Buttermilk Bottom” is the smell of backed up sewer water from the community’s downward sloping sewers.


Today, you can walk the former streets of Buttermilk Bottom by heading southeast from the corner of Piedmont Avenue and North Avenue.


Listen for more stories in our series "What's In A Name" weekdays on All Things Considered from 4 to 7 p.m. on 88.5 GPB Atlanta.


We invite you to submit your idea for an interesting Atlanta name HERE.