Elements of Urbanism: Macon

May 17, 2011 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville visits a city that has staked its claim as the original home of Southern Rock: Macon, GA.

Tale of the Tape

Macon Population 2010: 91,351 (City); 231,576 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1823)

Jacksonville Pop. 2010: 821,784 (City); 1,328,144 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City Population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Macon (70,252)

Metropolitan Area Growth Rate (2000-2009)

Macon: +4.14%
Jacksonville: +18.29%

Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Macon: 135,170 (ranked 203rd nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43rd nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Macon: 1678.5
Jacksonville: 2149.2

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2010

Macon: -5,904
Jacksonville: +86,167

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Macon: Macon Centreplex (1968, expanded 1996) - 73,007 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to Convention Center:

Macon: N/A
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Macon: St. Joseph's Catholic Church - 200 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Fortune 500 companies 2010 (City limits only):

Macon: Zero (0)
Jacksonville: CSX (259), Winn-Dixie (306), Fidelity National Financial (366)


Urban infill obstacles:

Macon: A railroad and I-16 cut off the riverfront from the rest of the city.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

Macon: Cherry Street
Jacksonville: East Bay Street


Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Whose Downtown is more walkable?

Macon: 80 out of 100, according to walkscore.com
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

City Land Area
Macon: 55.8 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

About Macon:

The Ocmulgee River lies just north of Downtown Macon.

Macon (pronounced /ˈmeɪkən/) is a city located in central Georgia, US. It is part of the Macon metropolitan area, and the county seat of Bibb County. A small portion of the city extends into Jones County. It lies near the geographic center of Georgia, approximately 85 miles (136 km) south of Atlanta, hence the city's nickname as the Heart of Georgia. As of the 2010 Census, Macon had an estimated population of 91,351;[3] in terms of population, Macon is the seventh-largest city in Georgia (just after Sandy Springs).

The city has several institutions of higher education, as well as numerous museums and tourism sites. The area is served by the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and the Herbert Smart Downtown Airport. The current mayor of Macon is Robert Reichert, a former Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Perhaps its most colorful mayor[citation needed] with national recognition was Ronnie Thompson, who served from 1967–1975 and was the first of thus far two Republicans to have held the position, the other being George Israel (1979–1987).

The Medical Center of Central Georgia.

This is Bibb County's fourth courthouse. The first was a one-room building built in 1825, the second was a brick building constructed in 1828. The third was a large, three-story structure with a clock tower, completed in 1870. The current courthouse was completed in 1924. A jail was added to the top floor in 1926; the entire structure was remodeled in 1940 as a WPA project. The lobby floors are made of marble.

About NewTown Macon

For all its beauty and history, Macon is a city in need of tending. Once the heart of economic and social vitality in Middle Georgia, Macon’s downtown succumbed to urban decline over generations. Run down homes and abandoned houses are found where neighborhoods once thrived. Dilapidated buildings stand where businesses once prospered. But that is not the end of the story. A vision of a dramatically different downtown – one where thousands again live, work, learn, play and worship – is within reach.

In 1996, a group of forward-thinking business and community leaders established a non-profit, public-private partnership called NewTown Macon to fill a pressing community need: restore downtown Macon to its original beauty and cultivate a prosperous city for a new century.

The organization embarked on a three-year examination of downtown Macon’s strengths and opportunities. With community input and best practices from similar cities, NewTown Macon identified initiatives that would serve as catalysts for the renaissance of downtown and result in an improved quality of life for the entire community.

In 1999, NewTown Macon launched a $36 million campaign with $6 million in challenge grants from the Robert W. Woodruff and Peyton Anderson Foundations to fund eight strategic revitalization initiatives, one being construction of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail. The community responded with passion and generosity to complete the campaign in 2002.

NewTown Macon - by engaging the imagination, consolidating planning and marshalling resources - is laying the foundation for the rebirth of downtown Macon. Our work will not be accomplished over night, but in time our center city – the heart of Middle Georgia – will beat with new life.

To learn more about NewTown Macon and its downtown revitalization initiatives visit our website at www.newtownmacon.com

Macon's 1916 Terminal Station, is Georgia's grandest surviving railroad station. It was designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Alfred Fellheimer (1875-1959), who with his partners also designed stations in Cincinnati, Buffalo, and other cities.
In 1926-27, the station handled as many as a hundred arrivals/departures each day, primarily trains of the Central of Georgia , Southern Railway, and Georgia Southern & Florida. Passengers accessed the train platforms by way of a tunnel under the tracks.
After closing in 1975, the building stood unused several years until it was purchased by Georgia Power Company in 1982 and used as its local offices in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2002, the City of Macon received one million dollars in TEA funds to purchase the building from Georgia Power and convert it to a retail, office, and transportation center.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame

The origin of its stake:
Grant's Lounge first opened its doors on February 16, 1971. Located at 576 Poplar Street in Macon, Georgia, the original Grant's Lounge had a seating capacity of 75. From the beginning Grant's Lounge was more than just another night club. It's existence made a loud statement about people and the oneness of human beings. Also, it was from this modest establishment that much of what the world now knows as Southern Rock was conceived.

The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Macon, Georgia, is the country’s largest state sports museum. The 43,000 square feet state-of-the-art museum houses over 3,000 artifacts. From the old style ticket booths to the brick columns in the rotunda and special lighting, the museum invites visitors to experience the history of sports in Georgia with more than 14,000 square feet of high-energy exhibit space and a Hall of Fame corridor that honors the over 300 inductees.

The Tubman African American Museum is located in Macon, Georgia. It is located in the city's museum district near the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Founded in 1981, this 8,500-square-foot (790 m2) museum is dedicated toward preserving and displaying African American art, history, and culture. It also offers an array of exhibitions, programs, and publications geared to adults, families, and students and teachers in grades K-12 and college. It offers dancing, drama, drumming, photography, and visual art classes focused on African American culture.

The museum is also in the process of building a new 49,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) facility.

The Georgia Children's Museum at the intersection of Cherry Street and MLK, Jr. Boulevard

Cherry Street

Cherry Street extends from the Macon Terminal and a cluster of cultural attractions (shown above) through to the heart of Downtown Macon.

The tall building in the background is known as the Dempsey Apartments.
One hundred ninety-four apartments are housed in this nine-story high-rise formerly known as the Hotel Dempsey.

This grand building was reborn in 1981 when it was transformed to create a comfortable and affordable environment for the elderly and disabled residents of Middle Georgia.

Dempsey Apartments is a nine story apartment building with 29 efficiency apartments and 164 one-bedroom apartments. Apartments range in size from 384 square feet to over 700 square feet. There are 23 different floor plans throughout the building.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard

Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard is an arterial road that has historically separated the commercial/retail area of Downtown Macon from the industrial area.

Poplar Street

Many residents believe that Poplar Street is the perfect place to create a downtown entertainment district because of its many vacant buildings and wide streets with park-like areas in the middle, which would be perfect for events such as street festivals.

Macon City Hall, constructed in 1837, was used as a field hospital during the Civil War and served as the temporary state capitol during the final months of the war.

Macon City Auditorium

St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Poplar Street.

2nd Street

2nd Street is a major thoroughfare in the heart of Downtown Macon.

The BB&T Building is the second tallest high-rise building in Downtown Macon.

Looking down Cotton Street towards 2nd Street at Macon's tallest, the Fickling & Company Building.

The Capitol Theatre opened its doors for the first time on November 10, 1916. Leather furniture with mushroom air holes under each chair provided a comfortable and quiet motion‐picture experience. The theater screen was made of gold‐fiber, a modern answer to the problem of flickering on older screens. Admission was fifteen cents.In 1976 the Capitol Theatre closed its doors and was neglected for thirty years, soaking up rain water from a hole in the roof, sometimes serving various organizations, but never living up to the potential for which it had been originally built and for which it originally served – entertaining the citizens of Middle Georgia in a unique and grand style.The journey that restored the dignity of this magnificent theatre began in 2003 and culminated when the Capitol Theatre reopened its doors as Cox Capitol Theatre in 2006. Since that time, the theatre has become a cornerstone in the revitalization effort of downtown Macon and is once again a symbol of community, operating as a movie house and live entertainment venue.The importance of the theatre to our area’s economic growth cannot be understated. According to a National Governors Association 2001 Economic Development Study, cultural activities attract tourists and spur the creation of restaurants, hotels and the services needed to support them. In addition, businesses cite access to the arts, music and entertainment as important quality of life factors when considering a new location.

Images by Ennis Davis