Ponce de Leon Avenue


Ponce de Leon Avenue is one of the most interesting streets in Atlanta. When following it from Atlanta Midtown/Downtown towards Decatur you will see very different views of areas with a unique character and atmosphere – many of Atlanta’s most famous landmarks lined-up one after another.

That’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Ponce de Leon Avenue (/pɑːnts də ˈlən/ pahnss duh lee-ahn),[1] often simply called Ponce, provides a link between AtlantaDecaturClarkston, and Stone Mountain, Georgia. It was named for Ponce de Leon Springs, in turn from explorer Juan Ponce de León, but is not pronounced as in Spanish. Several grand and historic buildings are located on the avenue.

A few days ago Will and I decided to follow Ponce de Leon Avenue from Atlanta towards Decatur. We walked a couple of hours in the midday heat enjoying the first signs of summer. If you have some free time and you are in Atlanta, then walking down Ponce is definitely worth the while. The street is full with Atlanta landmarks and interesting stories!

The first shot is of the Clermont Motor Hotel, which is “world-famous” for the Clermont Lounge. Wikipedia says:

The Clermont Lounge is Atlanta’s first and longest continually operating strip club, opened in 1965. Located in the basement of the Clermont Motor Hotel at 789 Ponce De Leon Avenue, in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood. The Clermont has survived multiple attempts at being closed by the Atlanta city government, and has established a nationwide reputation for its kitschy atmosphere and unusual dancers. The Clermont has been featured on an episode of Insomniac with Dave Attell, and celebrities including Marilyn MansonAshton KutcherKid Rock and Bombay Bicycle Club have been known to visit the Clermont when in Atlanta. Visitors to the Clermont usually alternate between a few handfuls of regulars and large numbers of college students, newcomers to town, and tourists lured in by tales of the Clermont’s myriad charms.

The Clermont does not serve food or draft beer. The single stripper’s stage is located in the middle of a circular bar, and the dancers choose their own songs on the in-house jukebox, as the club normally does not have an actual DJ. The Clermont is perhaps best known for featuring some dancers who do not meet the traditional physical standards for strippers, the most famous of whom is Blondie, noted for her ability to crush empty beer cans between her breasts as well as for her poetry.

At this point the situation is actually quite interesting: the actual Motel is abandoned and completely run down and (supposedly) going to be renovated soon. The Clermont Lounge operates in the basement. So imagine an abandoned hotel (think urbex style) with a fully-operated strip bar in the basement.


Another one of Clemont’s well-known street sign. At some point the sign got damaged on the right adding to its abandoned character.


The next one is of the Plaza Theatre a bit further down Ponce. The Plaza Theatre opened back in 1939. Wikipedia says:

The Plaza Theatre is an Atlanta landmark and the city’s oldest continuously operating movie theatre.[1] It was once home to several weekly and monthly events, including The Rocky Horror Picture Show and both the Silver Scream Spookshow[2] and Splatter Cinema,[3] mixed-media events featuring live performances and the screening of a classic sci-fi or horror film, respectively.[4] Since its sale in late 2012, the Plaza has undergone extensive renovations and programming changes; its future as a community repertory cinema remains uncertain.[5]


Shopping area close to the Poncey City Market. One of the architectural characteristics here are the factory-like buildings with huge glass windows. Many of those have been turned into lofts over the last years.


The Poncey City Market. Together with the Belt Line, it will be one of the big accelerators for the Poncey Highland area. In fact it already is. The whole area between Ponce de Leon and North Avenue undergoes significant residential development. From Wikipedia:

Ponce City Market is a historic building in Atlanta, located where the BeltLine crosses Ponce de Leon Avenuein the Old Fourth Ward where that neighborhood touches the Virginia HighlandPoncey-Highland and Midtownneighborhoods. The 2,100,000-square-foot (200,000 m2) building, one of the largest by volume in the Southeast United States, was used by Sears, Roebuck and Co. from 1926–1987 and later by the City of Atlanta as “City Hall East”. The building’s lot is 16 acres (65,000 m2) large.


Sometimes Ponce can be also on the rough side. The next shot is of a girl roughening up her boyfriend. I could not figure out what was going on but it was definitely not fun for the guy…


Thanks for stopping by — TSJ.

 Follow me on @terencesjones or facebook for more updates.

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3 thoughts on “Ponce de Leon Avenue

  1. Pingback: The things you own end up owning you | Terence S Jones - a guy with a camera

  2. Pingback: Flash jobs: Historic District | Terence S Jones - a guy with a camera

  3. Pingback: Colors of Atlanta: Evening walk | Terence S Jones - a guy with a camera

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