Cabbagetown is the oldest and largest mill village in Atlanta. While other historic Atlanta neighborhoods have consistent housing types and correlated lot sizes, Cabbagetown’s urban form diverges from this pattern.
Cabbagetown was developed as a mill village when, in 1881, the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill moved to the area. The owners of the factory recruited hundreds of workers, many from the Appalachian Mountains, and provided housing for them. Possible origins of the name of the neighborhood include: a large amount of cabbage farming in the neighborhood by the Appalachian transplants, an overturned train car or truck of cabbages that were quickly taken by the residents, and a local baseball team. The mill housing was located on five small blocks known as “Factory Lot” directly south of the mill. The mill originally shipped in four-family houses from other mill towns in the Northeast. Since the mill owned the land and rented the housing to the workers, the blocks were never subdivided into individual parcels. The disconnect between the blocks and their internal subdivision is one of the Cabbagetown’s distinguishing qualities.
Over the years, the mill bought and developed housing for its employees, but Cabbagetown was also seen as a good place for investment property. The neighborhood was bounded by two trolley lines, close to downtown, and had a stable renter market generated by the mill. Investors would buy and combine multiple lots, and place houses on the aggregated parcels in whatever manner they chose. Adjacent parcels were often combined to form larger ones. This created a varied assortment of building typologies. It is not uncommon to see a shotgun next to a pyramid cottage, which is next to a double shotgun and across the street from a bungalow. Since building typologies were not confined to a rigid framework of identical lot design, the urban form of the neighborhood acquired its unpredictable pattern.
In the 1980s, Cabbagetown experienced an influx of artists and urban pioneers who restored homes and brought new energy to the declining neighborhood. In 1996, the main factory buildings were converted into a residential loft community and since that time, the development has encountered several trials, including a fire that damaged the east building in 1999 and a tornado in 2008 that damaged the numerous loft units and many of the nearby historic homes and businesses.