Welcome to downtown Augusta.
Welcome to the 1980s.
This 1985 aerial photo taken by Larry Grayam, The Chronicle’s chief photographer, makes our old metropolis look almost modern. I credit the sleek loop of the Gordon Highway bridge entrance ramp.
Lack of foliage on the trees (it was taken in March) also clears out our view of the city and its straight, main streets heading west. It’s probably appropriate the view is focused in that direction because that seems to be where much of Augusta was headed during the decade.
In this photo, Broad Street is easy to spot and Greene Street, too. But Ellis Street, right there in the center, is a surprise. It looks more impressive than most of us usually credit it.
The big, black skyscraper (not yet 20 years old) of the Georgia Railroad Bank is still labeled “THE GEORGIA.” Mergers and bank takeovers would change that sign many times in the years ahead.
The Municipal Building on Greene Street is easy to see. Consolidation of city and county government was a decade in the future, and our community continued to be operated in the “Marble Palace” by separate entities – The Augusta City Council and the Richmond County Commission.
Efforts to merge the two over the decade repeatedly failed.
You can also see the Civic Center over to the left with its vacant daytime parking lot. It’s not yet a decade old. but was busy in 1985 with conventions and rodeos, and dog shows. On the other hand, a “soft” concert market that year was blamed for a surprisingly low attendance to a Reba McEntire performance. She lost money playing in Augusta, a promoter complained.
Although much of our town still looks like this, there is a rather big change easy to see. Look across the Savannah River to the North Augusta side.
In the 1980s, it was just trees. There was no golf course. No riverside homes with floating docks. No ballpark under construction. No city office building or parking deck or very nice houses or neighborhoods.
What do think things will look like 30 years from now?
Reach Bill Kirby at firstname.lastname@example.org.)