When tasked with naming communication hubs in the United States, most people probably think of New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and other big cities. And that makes sense—all of those cities are in fact important hubs for communication, and centers of population in the U.S. But would you believe us if we told you that Atlanta was just as important to communication?
As noted by Atlanta Telephone History, the first telephone line in Atlanta, completed in 1877, was a private line connecting the Western and Atlantic Freight Depot with Durand's Restaurant in the Union Passenger Station. At this point, the telephone was a very new invention, and this private line in Atlanta was “more like a very crude intercom system than a telephone.” Nonetheless, it was a start, and was the beginning of a long history of telecommunications in the city.
The first telephone exchange in Atlanta was opened in 1879, and growth only continued after that. The National Bell Telephone Company, which built the exchange in Atlanta, renamed to the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company not long after 1882. The telephone system continued to develop, and Southern Bell moved to and from a series of offices around the city.
The Ivy Office—located at 56 Marietta St., not far from 56 Marietta St. NW where ATL1 is located today—opened up in 1907. It served as Southern Bell HQ for several years, and was torn down in 1924 when headquarters moved to the Hurt Building. Of course, the building isn’t there today, but its rich history lives on throughout the city.
While Southern Bell was moving offices around town—including the Ivy building, which as we mentioned is very close to ATL1’s current location—another communications company was also making the rounds. Western Union was making a showing too, and built a building at 56 Marietta St. NW to serve as its headquarters. It did so for several years, until being turned into warehouse space and going unused for some time. With Southern Bell and Western Union operating simultaneously, Atlanta emerged as a somewhat surprising hub for communications up and down the East Coast.
After years of neglect, developers who hoped to repurpose the building as condominiums purchased the building. However they soon realized the value of the rich interconnection access centered there and decided to recreate the space as a multi-tenant data center, which resulted in the purchase of the building and its assets by Telx in the early 2000’s. Since then we’ve done our own updates to the building, and are proud to say that we think it does a great job of honoring the history of Atlanta.
ATL1 is positioned right in the midst of the sites where those two communications companies grew and developed the interconnection point and communications capabilities that we see in Atlanta today. It’s always good when we can tap into the history of any city, and as you can see here, we think that our ATL1 data center is a great example of our desire to do just that.