Joel Hurt
Joel Hurt was an important businessman and developer in Atlanta active in the late 19th century through the early 20th century.

Born in Hurtsboro, Alabama
Hurtsboro, Alabama
Hurtsboro is a town in Russell County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 592. It was founded in 1857 as Hurtsville and named for Joel Hurt, Sr....

 (a town named for his father, Joel Hurt, Sr. ), he attended Auburn University
Auburn University
Auburn University is a public university located in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 25,000 students and 1,200 faculty members, it is one of the largest universities in the state. Auburn was chartered on February 7, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts...

 and graduated from the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 in 1871.

He began his career in the railroad business, surveying first in the western United States the bed that became the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. He also surveyed a small spur off the Richmond and Danville line
Richmond and Danville Railroad
The Richmond and Danville Railroad was chartered in Virginia in the United States in 1847. The portion between Richmond and Danville, Virginia was completed in 1856...

 to Athens, Georgia
Athens, Georgia
Athens-Clarke County is a consolidated city–county in U.S. state of Georgia, in the northeastern part of the state, comprising the former City of Athens proper and Clarke County. The University of Georgia is located in this college town and is responsible for the initial growth of the city...


Hurt moved to Atlanta in 1875 where he organized the Atlanta Building and Loan Association which he ran for thirty-two years. He also co-founded the Trust Company and, starting in 1895, was its president for nine years. In 1882, he organized the East Atlanta Land Company where he designed and developed Inman Park
Inman Park
Inman Park was planned in the late 1880s by Joel Hurt, a civil engineer and real-estate developer who intended to create a rural oasis connected to the city by the first of Atlanta's electric streetcar lines. The East Atlanta Land Company acquired and developed more than 130 acres east of the city...

 which was connected to the city center by his Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railway Company which opened along Edgewood Ave in 1886. It was Atlanta's first electric streetcar line, and the first profitable electric line in America. In 1880, he filed what would be for an interesting thermal water valve then in 1887, he filed No. 374,188 for a new style of Valve Cock for faucets handling water under pressure.

To anchor the downtown end of his streetcar he built Atlanta's first skyscraper, the Equitable Building which in 1893 became the home of the two year old Trust Company.

His next land deal was to be Druid Hills
Druid Hills, Georgia
Druid Hills is a community which includes both a census-designated place in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States, as well as a neighborhood of the city of Atlanta. The CDP's population was 14,568 at the 2010 census...

 for which he hired the Olmsted Brothers
Olmsted Brothers
The Olmsted Brothers company was an influential landscape design firm in the United States, formed in 1898 by stepbrothers John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. .-History:...

 to design along a linear park around Ponce de Leon, but he sold the enterprise to Asa Candler for half a million dollars in 1908. He also built Atlanta's first fireproof theater, the Atlanta Theater (also on Edgewood) and his masterpiece, the Hurt Building
Hurt Building
The Hurt Building is a 17-story building in Atlanta, Georgia. Built between 1913 and 1926, the bulk of the building was completed in 1913, with a courtyard, entry rotunda and a wing extending final completion to 1926. It was built by Joel Hurt, an Atlanta developer to a design by the New York...

 (which still stands).

The Wall Street Journal's bureau chief Douglas Blackmon's 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book 'Slavery by Another Name' revealed the extent to which Joel Hurt's fortune was built on the profitable and exploitative uses of convict labor. Hurt was unrepentant in hearings in 1908 that brought out the shocking abuses on the Hurt family convict labor camp. These, hearings led in large part to the banning of convict leasing in Georgia.

In 1940 land was donated to the city by the Trust Company and a park was dedicated as Hurt Park which lies across Peachtree Center Ave from the Hurt Building.

The Joel Hurt Cottage still stands near Elizabeth and Euclid Streets in Inman Park.
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