Broad Street Opened - 1926
Broad Street Opened

Over 94 years ago Broad Street terminated at MLK Jr. Blvd.

At that intersection, a row of buildings marked the boundary of 11-acres of land owned by the state of Georgia via railroad right-of-way agreements established decades earlier at the 'outskirts of town'.

By 1926, it occupied in the heart of a growing city - blocking a much needed thoroughfare. City leaders grew tired of a half-century of legal bickering.

On the night of Thursday, May 6th, a well-planned event unfolded as an army of men with crowbars and shovels ‘opened’ Broad Street by demolishing pre-evacuated buildings, opening a path across the state line.

May 7th, at 1:26 in the morning, the first car with the man who led the efforts, Commissioner of Streets E. D. Bass, passed triumphantly through the breach.

The Elks Junior Band played “Marching through Georgia” as they transversed the rubble.

A zoomable image from a 8x10" glass plate negative showing a pre-opened Broad Street.


This incredibly detailed view from the James Building was likely taken by photographer Will H. Stokes. It was one of few surviving glass plates donated by the family of Matt Brown, who worked with Will H. Stokes as a photographer, and continued to manage the business after Stoke's death in 1922. By 1942, he had opened his own company; Matt L. Brown & Co. Photography.

Despite the city’s victorious invasion, legal battles with the state of Georgia continued – eventually escalating to the U.S. Supreme Court. where it was ruled the city had the right to use eminent domain to acquire the Georgia property. One-by-one, Georgia’s larger parcels of land were sold, most in the 1970s.

Strips of land along rail right of ways are still owned by Georgia.

Half-tone photos source: The Atlanta Constitution: May 1926
David Edward Bass (1873-1960)
E. D. Bass was elected mayor in 1927 and served 5 terms.
He would have become mayor in 1923, however, TN Governor Austin Peay asked Bass to promise that, if elected, he would not serve. Bass did as the Governor asked. The motivation for this political action appears to have been pressure from the statewide Ku Klux Klan, who promised to have Chambliss’ appointment blocked if Bass was to step up to the position of mayor in Chattanooga.
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Ed Bass
The News Palladium, Benton Harbor, Michigan - May 24, 1926