What's In A Name? | Buttermilk Bottom

Jun 28, 2018

A catchy tune from 70s funk group The Spirit of Atlanta is the only remnant of this Atlanta community. 


In our first edition of "What's In A Name," we look at the lost Atlanta neighborhood of Buttermilk Bottom.



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


City planners had 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 Spirit of Atlanta 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.


Click here to find more stories behind curious Atlanta names from our summer 2018 series "What's In A Name?" on 88.5 GPB Atlanta’s All Things Considered.