Cheshire Bridge Road
Cheshire Bridge Road is a mainly north-south thoroughfare of Atlanta, Georgia, USA< traversing the Morningside-Lenox Park and Lindridge-Martin Manor neighborhoods from Piedmont Avenue to Buford Highway just north of Interstate 85.
While the corridor was originally settled during the 1800s, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that it rapidly developed as a suburban commercial center dominated by strip malls. Following white flight from Intown Atlanta during the 1970s, the corridor became well-known for the numerous sex shops, strip clubs and gay nightclubs that had moved into its abandoned retail spaces. The area has been noted as important in the LGBT history of Georgia.
Since the 2000s, urban redevelopment projects and gentrification have threatened the identity of the area. In 2005, the Atlanta City Council banned new adult businesses from opening on Cheshire Bridge Road but existing ones were allowed to stay. However, new high-density residential developments have become common in recent years and existing businesses and nightclubs have closed or relocated.
White settlers originally settled the corridor in the 1820s. Two of these early settlers were Napoleon and Jerome Cheshire, two brothers who owned farms on opposite sides of South Fork of Peachtree Creek, and connected their farms by a bridge known as the Cheshire Bridge, giving the road its name.
The area remained agricultural until the early 20th century. At that time suburban development encroached from Atlanta to the south, in today's Morningside neighborhood. By the 1960s the entire area was suburban.
Arrival of gay and adult businesses
By the early 1970s, more affluent residents were moving further away from Atlanta. Many longtime businesses closed and were replaced by low rent businesses. In the 1980s residential areas around the corridor rebounded, but the commercial area continued to stagnate, despite some individual businesses opening that were popular. By the turn of the 21st century, the city Department of Planning still stated, "The Cheshire Bridge Road corridor continues to fail to reach its potential. While thriving residential neighborhoods, an eclectic business mix and many popular establishments mark the area, the corridor remains a seedy and undesirable locale in the collective Atlanta psyche due, in part, to the proliferation of adult businesses and the unkempt nature of the corridor."
Possible "cleanup" of Cheshire Bridge
In 2013, councilman Alex Wan introduced legislation, supported by neighborhood associations and NPU F, to remove existing adult businesses from Cheshire Bridge by 2018, but this was not passed, opposed by a mix of gays, strippers and Atlanta’s real estate interests – including Scott Selig. Some in the gay community wondered if Cheshire Bridge were "sanitized", "where would people go for sexual expression"? Matthew Cardinale, the editor and publisher of Atlanta Progressive News, and aresident of the Road, decried "the ongoing project of gentrification, homogenization, sterilization and capitalization of a historic neighborhood", Atlanta's "red-light district".
Iconic businesses along Cheshire Bridge Road include:
- Onyx, Bliss, and Doll House, straight strip clubs
- Cheshire Motor Inn, a motel famous for gay cruising
- The Colonnade restaurant, popular among "gays and grays"
- B.J. Roosters, The Heretic and The Jungle, gay nightclubs
- "Site of Old Cheshire Bridge", GeorgiaInfo, University of Georgia
- "History", Lindridge-Martin Manor Neighbors Association Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- "Cheshire Bridge Road Study", 1999, City of Atlanta Department of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Conservation, Bureau of Planning In conjunction with the Cheshire Bridge Road Task Force Archived August 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- Jordan Friedman, "What to do with Cheshire Bridge Road?", Creative Loafing, February 15, 2013
- "Clean up Cheshire Bridge?", Creative Loafing, May 8, 2013
- "Cheshire Bridge Road to remain an “adult” district, if Atlanta City Council upholds ruling by its zoning board", Saporta Report, May 9, 2013
- "The 'sterilization' of Cheshire Bridge Road: How LGBT culture can thrive amidst new developments". Georgia Voice - Gay & LGBT Atlanta News. July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Max Blau, "Residents OK Cheshire Bridge plan to gently give adult businesses the boot", Creative Loafing, April 16, 2013
- Taylor Trimble, "Opinion: Cheshire Bridge is Falling Down" Archived 2014-08-19 at the Wayback Machine, David Atlanta, March 2013
- "HOW TO GET LAID BY A MAN: IF YOU ARE ALSO A MAN", DJ Toyota Fest, Vice, December 31, 1999
- "The Colonnade Restaurant", Zagat
- "Cheshire Farm Trail", South Fork Conservancy