English Avenue is a 60 square block neighborhood located in Northwest Atlanta, a half of mile west of Georgia Tech, the World Congress Center, Coca-Cola, and the Georgia Dome. The northern border is Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy (formerly Bankhead Hwy); the southern border is Joseph E. Boone Blvd.(formerly Simpson Rd.); the western border is Joseph E. Lowery Blvd; and the eastern border is Northside Drive. Joseph E. Boone Boulevard separates English Avenue from the neighboring community, known as Vine City.
English Avenue is a part of Neighborhood Planning Unit L, as well as the City of Atlanta Westside Tax Allocation District and Renewal Community area. It includes zip codes 30314 and 30318
Despite being in close proximity to Atlanta’s most prominent institutions and attractions, the current conditions of the community are bleak, with trash and illegal dumping present on every street and drug dealing and prostitution conducted out in the open during the day.
According to the FBI, it is the largest open air heroin market in the southeast. Crime, addiction, joblessness, lack of education, and lack of opportunities feed into the cycle of generational poverty plaguing the community.
Strengths of the community include the presence of 25 churches, and a rich historical significance that residents continue to be proud of.
English Avenue has approximately 3,300 residents; 97% African American; 67% living below the federal poverty guideline. The high school drop out rate is over 50%. In terms of housing, 44% are vacant (US Census Bureau, 2010). The staggering percentage of vacancies is a huge public safety issue. Since 1990, the total population has decreased by 19%, a closely related trend to the high rate of home vacancies.
Atlanta Police Major Timothy Quiller says of the vacancy issue, “It does breed crime in the communities. You have drug trades inside the vacant properties. You have prostitution; you have homeless.”
English Avenue is located in a federally designated food desert. According to the USDA, “Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. These communities are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Learn more about FOOD DESERTS: USDA.
English Avenue is located in Zone 1, and is led by Zone Commander Major Timothy Quillard. The area has become notorious for its heroin sales and trafficking, and has been nicknamed “the bluff”. To view crime statistics, sign up for Zone 1 alerts, or contact the Zone 1 Precinct, click here.
The highest category of crime is residential burglary, followed by larceny, followed by auto theft. The small number of businesses still operating in the community are located on the borders, as the concentration of crime grows the closer one gets to the center of the community. The overall crime rate continues to decline significantly with each year, with a recorded 45% drop in 2012.
- 1900’s: English Avenue was named after James English, the former mayor of Atlanta from 1881-1883, who was also a decorated Civil War solider, banker, and owner of a brick company. The mayor’s son, James W. English Jr., bought the undeveloped land known today as English Avenue in 1891 and developed it into a white working class community. The main street running through the settlement was named English Avenue, and is still there today. In the 1900’s, the area experienced rapid growth due to the trolley car lines and southern railroad that ran directly through the community. By 1912, the community was serviced by two railway trolleys: the Atlanta Railway Trolley and the Chattahoochee Railway Trolley. These trolley lines defined the community racially, with the whites residing within the area bounded by the trolley lines and the African-American residents living in the areas just outside the trolley lines.
- 1950-1960’s: The infamous Paschal’s restaurant was opened in the community in 1947, and served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders during the 1950’s and 1960’s. This gives English Avenue the rich historical history that residents boast of because many or the marches and protests of the Civil Rights movement were planned at this restaurant. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. moved into the neighboring community, Vine City, in 1967. His widowed wife Coretta Scott King continued to live in Vine City until her death in 2006. Due to the civil rights movement and booming manufacturing industries, English Avenue was in its prime during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
- 1970’s: Suburbanization in the 1970’s marked the beginning of the decline of the community, as many homes were left vacant when long-time residents moved away. Between 1980 and 1990, the population decreased by 27% (US Census Bureau, 2010). The large majority of vacant homes attracted a considerable number of drug dealers and drug users to the community, which in turn caused the crime rate to soar. Even more vacant and abandoned homes were left in the wake of the 2008 foreclosure crisis, which provided more empty houses for criminal activities to flourish in.