Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta
Downtown Atlanta
—  District  —
Part of the Downtown Atlanta skyline
Downtown Atlanta is located in Metro Atlanta
Downtown Atlanta
Location in Metro Atlanta
Coordinates: 33°45′18″N 84°23′24″W / 33.755°N 84.39°W / 33.755; -84.39Coordinates: 33°45′18″N 84°23′24″W / 33.755°N 84.39°W / 33.755; -84.39
Elevation 225-320 m (738-1,050 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 23,300 (approximately)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)

Downtown Atlanta is the first and largest of the three financial districts in the city of Atlanta. Downtown Atlanta is the location of many corporate or regional headquarters, city, county, state and federal government facilities, sporting facilities, and is the central tourist attraction of the city. The largest financial district also contains striking architecture that dates back to the 19th century while maintaining a modern look and feel. Finally, the area is also the location of the hub of MARTA rail lines and where the major Interstates meet each other with two of them forming the Downtown Connector.

As defined by the Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) organization, the area measures approximately four square miles, and had 23,300 residents as of 2006.[1] This area is bound by North Avenue to the north, Boulevard to the east, Interstate 20 to the south, and Northside Drive to the west. This definition of Downtown Atlanta includes central areas like Five Points, the Hotel District and Fairlie-Poplar and outlying inner-city neighborhoods such as SoNo, and Castleberry Hill.

A Downtown street

The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) organization, though, defines a much smaller downtown area measuring just one and two tenths square miles. This area is roughly bound by North Avenue to the north, Piedmont Avenue and then Downtown Connector to the east, Martin Luther King Junior Drive, Courtland Street, and Edgewood Avenue to the south, and the railroad tracks to the west. This area only includes the core central business district neighborhoods of Fairlie-Poplar, Five Points, the Hotel District, Centennial Hills, and as of May 2007, the Railroad District.

The Downtown area is one of the most active business districts in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. The daytime population swells to over 140,000 as of 2006.[2] Downtown brings in more than 12 million visitors annually. Finally, Downtown boasts more than 12,000 hotel rooms, 185 restaurants/eateries and 30 bars/nightclubs.

Downtown Atlanta, like other central business districts in the U.S., is undergoing a transformation that includes building condos and lofts, uninhabited buildings being renovated and/or demolished, and the influx of people and businesses coming to the area.



Downtown Atlanta, 1889

Downtown Atlanta is the historic core of the city. The beginnings of what is currently Downtown Atlanta began in 1826 with Wilson Lumpkin and Hamilton Fulton surveying a possible railroad route between Chattanooga, Tennessee and Milledgeville, the state capital at the time.[3] In 1833, Lumpkin, now governor, requests that the state legislature charter three railroad lines. By 1836, the state-financed Western and Atlantic Railroad, linking the middle Georgia to the northern U.S., was founded by the legislature and signed by Lumpkin. As a result, the town named Terminus is founded in 1837, which is named for the end of the railroad line.[4]

Terminus received a name change in 1842 when the town's 30 inhabitants voted to change the town's name to Marthasville, in honor of Governor Lumpkin's daughter, Martha. By this time, Marthasville was a growing town with seven streets. Residents in 1844 turned down the town commissioners proposal to build more streets and were satisfied with the town's seven original streets.[5]

Marietta Street in Downtown Atlanta

By 1845, John Thomson, chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad, suggested that Marthasville's name be changed. The first suggestion was "Atlantica-Pacifica" but was quickly shortened to "Atlanta." Atlanta was derived as a supposedly feminine form of "Atlantic."[6] The name "Atlanta" becomes popular and town's name changes. In 1847, Atlanta is incorporated with its new name, with the town limits a one mile (1.6 km) radius away from the mile marker at the railroad depot. (The zero milepost marker is located under the Central Avenue viaduct between Alabama Street and Wall Street.)[7] After the incorporation of Atlanta, a movement began to move the state capital from Milledgeville to Atlanta.[citation needed]

Original Streets of Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta skyline at night.

Before Atlanta was incorporated with its current name, as the town of Marthasville, the city had seven original streets. In 1844, the town's commissioners attempted to levy a tax to create more streets. However, the seven streets the town had were enough for the people of Marthasville at the time. Today, each of these seven streets are critical arteries of the city, which Peachtree Street being the most critical of the seven (primarily due to its recognizable name, amenities on the street such as hotels and restaurants, and its location of premier office space and corporate headquarters.)

The seven original streets of Atlanta are:[8]

The southern leg of Peachtree Street south of Five Points was originally Whitehall Street. Park Place was originally Pryor Street north of Decatur Street. Four of the original streets, Peachtree Street, Marietta Street, Decatur Street and Whitehall Street (the southern leg of Peachtree Street before it was renamed) meet at Five Points, along with Edgewood Avenue.


Centennial Olympic Park facing Downtown Atlanta
Atlanta Downtown Festival and Tour


The area of downtown contains among the tallest buildings in Atlanta. The tallest building in Atlanta, the Bank of America Plaza building, is situated between Midtown Atlanta and Downtown Atlanta. Rising at 1,023 feet (312 m),[9] Bank of America Plaza is also the tallest building in any of the U.S. state capitals, and the tallest building in the U.S. outside of New York City and Chicago.

Downtown Atlanta is the heart and the largest of the three business districts of the city. This area contains striking architecture dating as far back as the 19th century. Some of the most famous and/or tallest buildings in Downtown include:

Downtown Atlanta contains over 26,000,000 square feet (2,400,000 m2) of office space; combined with Midtown as the central business district they make up over 48 million[10] sq ft, more than the CBDs of Dallas[11], and Miami.[12]


Looking north to the center of the Hotel District in Downtown Atlanta.

Downtown Atlanta is divided into eight subdistricts:[13]

Government and infrastructure

The U.S. Census Bureau has its Atlanta Regional Office in the Centennial Tower and the Atlanta Regional Census Center in Suite 1000 in the Marquis Two Tower in the Peachtree Center.[14]

The National Transportation Safety Board operates the Atlanta Aviation Field Office in the Atlanta Federal Center in Downtown Atlanta.[15]

Places of interest

Downtown Atlanta is full of places that may interest tourists. These places include government buildings, sporting venues and other miscellaneous places, such as parks and convention centers. South of the railroad gulch, which is primarily south of Marietta and Decatur Streets, is primarily city, county, state, and federal government facilities. North of the railroad gulch is a variety of facilities, corporate headquarters, and hotels.

The Richard B. Russell Federal Building in the background from Forsyth Street.
Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building.
U.S. District Court of Appeals Building in the Fairlie-Poplar District.
The State Bar of Georgia, the former Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Governmental facilities

  • The Georgia State Capitol is the seat of the government for the State of Georgia. The capitol building is located in the area that is bounded by Mitchell Street SW to the south, Capitol Avenue SE to the east, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW to the north, and Washington Street SW to the west. The State Capitol's gold dome is visible from the Downtown Connector in either direction.
  • The Fulton County Government Center is the seat of the Fulton County Government. This building is where the Fulton County Board of Commissioners meet as well as many of the county departments. This building is located at 141 Pryor Street SW.
  • The Fulton County Courthouse is located directly across the street from the Fulton County Government Center at 136 Pryor Street SW.
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Building, located at 77 Forsyth Street SW, was built and "designed and constructed to accommodate the rapidly expanding volume of the Postal Service, which was then oriented around a single, central processing facility."[16] This building is currently under reconstruction.
  • The Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Building, located at 61 Forsyth Street SW, is the ninth largest federal building in the United States and the largest in the southeast.[17] The building "houses 5,000 employees for dozens of federal agencies and combines four distinct structural elements in central downtown, equaling 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2)."
  • Located not too far away from the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Building is the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, at 75 Spring Street SW. The Richard B. Russell building is a 1,250,000-square-foot (116,000 m2) mixed-used office building that contains the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia/Atlanta Division, and offices for several other federal agencies, including Department of Energy's Atlanta Regional Office.[18] The building is named after U.S. Senator from Georgia, Richard B. Russell, who served from 1933 to 1971.
  • Further north in the Fairlie-Poplar District of Downtown is the U.S. Court of Appeals. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is located at 56 Forsyth Street NW. This court takes federal cases from the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The building is officially named the Elbert P. Tuttle U.S. Court of Appeals building, named after a former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the predecessor court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit).
  • A few blocks away from the U.S. Court of Appeals is the State Bar of Georgia building, located at 104 Marietta Street NW. This was also the former location of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which moved to its Midtown location at 1000 Peachtree Street NE in 2001.

Sporting venues

  • One of the most important sporting arenas in the State of Georgia, the Georgia Dome is the largest cable-supported dome stadium in the world.[19] Sitting on 8.6 acres (35,000 m2) in Downtown, The Dome is home to the Atlanta Falcons, the city's NFL team. The Georgia Dome hosts many other events such as the NCAA Chick-Fil-A Bowl, SEC Championship game. The Dome is capable of hosting non-sporting events such as trade shows and concerts, since it has a permanent seating capacity of 71,250.
  • In the same general vicinity as the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena is the home of the Atlanta Hawks, the city's NBA team, and the Atlanta Dream, the city's WNBA team. The arena opened in September 1999 and has the following capacities: Hockey, 18,750; Basketball 18,729; Concerts 21,000. The arena is located directly across Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW from the CNN Center.
  • Just south of Interstate 20 from the Downtown area is Turner Field, home to the Atlanta Braves, the city's MLB team. The baseball park is capable of seating 50,096.[20] The park is located at 755 Hank Aaron Drive SW.

Other venues and parks

Street scene in Peachtree Center
Broad Street
  • Clustered around the Georgia Dome and the CNN Center, the Georgia World Congress Center is a state-owned convention center. Opened in 1976, it was the first state owned and operated major convention center in the United States.[21] As the fourth largest convention center in the United States and with 1,400,000 sq ft (130,000 m2) of space, more than a million people attend conventions at the Georgia World Congress Center annually, and as many 125,000 people attend a single event. The facility is located at 285 Andrew Young International Boulevard NE.
  • As headquarters for Ted Turner's CNN network, the CNN Center is located at 190 Marietta Street NW with Centennial Olympic Park, Philips Arena (connected to the CNN Center), Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center all nearby. The broadcast studios for CNN are located in this building.
  • Woodruff Park, named after Robert W. Woodruff, is a 6-acre (24,000 m2) park in Downtown located a block away from Five Points. This park has fountains, sculptures, as well as lawn and plaza areas.[22]
  • Home to the 1996 Olympic Games, Centennial Olympic Park, located on 21-acre (85,000 m2) area of Downtown, is the largest downtown park in the United States developed in the last 25 years.[23] The most famous part of the park is the Fountain of Rings, which is the world's largest interactive fountain utilizing the Olympic symbol of five interconnecting Rings. After the Olympics, the park hosts many events, such as music concerts and the fireworks display for the Independence Day holiday.
  • Located near the MARTA Five Points Station, Underground Atlanta is Downtown's shopping and entertainment district. During the 1920s, streets in the area were raised above the ground (and the railroad tracks) for a better flow of traffic.[24] Under these viaducts is a district for entertainment and shopping. There are retail stores that fall into the categories of apparel, leisure, and service and retail.[25] There are restaurants that serve a variety of different foods, such as Irish, Jamaican and Italian.[26] In addition, there are several nightclubs in Kenny's Alley to suite a variety of different tastes.[27]
  • Just north of Centennial Olympic Park is the Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest aquarium with more than 8 million US gallons (30,000 m3) of fresh and marine water.[28] Located at 225 Baker Street NW, the Aquarium is listed as one of the '1,000 Places to See Before You Die.'[29]
  • The World of Coca-Cola, situated near the Georgia Aquarium at Pemberton Place, is a permanent exhibition to the history of Coca-Cola. The exhibition sits on 20 acres (81,000 m2) in its new location, which opened on May 24, 2007. The old location, now closed, was near Underground Atlanta.
  • The Tabernacle, located on 152 Luckie Street NW, is a music concert hall. Built in 1910 for Tabernacle Baptist Church, it was sometimes familiarly referred to as "Broughton's Tabernacle," a reference to Dr. Leonard Gaston Broughton the long-time pastor. In 1996 the building was converted into a House of Blues Club for the Olympics.[30] It was renamed "The Tabernacle" in 1998.[31] The concert hall is four stories and can seat 2600.
  • The Mall at Peachtree Center located on Peachtree Street between Harris Street and Andrew Young International Boulevard is another Downtown shopping mall with many amenities. This mall boasts the upscale Peachtree Center Athletic Club that contains a 72,000-square-foot (6,700 m2) full service athletic facility.[32] The mall has many 60 specialty shops, including six full-scale restaurants, as well as a regular food court, a conference center in the South Tower- all with easy access with MARTA's Peachtree Center station directly connected to the mall.

Among all of these venues, Downtown Atlanta is also home to Georgia State University, a 4 year public institution.

Future venues and attractions

As Downtown Atlanta is undergoing a revitalization process, the area is in the process of bringing new attractions to the area, particularly notable places such as the area clustered around the Georgia Aquarium, The World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Olympic Park and the CNN Center.

  • Coming Fall 2008, the National Museum of Patriotism will be located in the area around the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola at 275 Baker Street NW.[33] The visitors to this "interactive museum will experience such exhibits as: One America (a salute to the heroes of 9/11), The Symbols of America, The Immigrant Experience, The Hall of Patriots, The Founding Fathers, the Tuskegee Airmen among many others. The signature exhibit is the Hall of Patriots Exhibit featuring Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Congressional Gold Medal recipients, Carnegie Medal recipients and Medal of Freedom recipients."
  • In June 2008, Governor Sonny Perdue announced that Atlanta has been selected for the future home of the National Health Museum. The location will be near Centennial Olympic Park where it is estimated to attract between 1.1 and 1.4 million visitors per year.[34][35] One of the reasons for Atlanta being selected is due to the city being home of The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, CARE, and the Arthritis Foundation, as well as having well-known research schools such as the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has its headquarters in Downtown Atlanta. As of August 2009 the company had 850 employees in its Downtown Atlanta offices. During that month it occupied less than 30% of its Downtown location since it had consolidated its printing operations in Gwinnett County in 2008. In 2010 the newspaper plans to relocate its headquarters to leased offices in the Perimeter Mall area for financial reasons.[36]

Diplomatic missions

The Consulate-General of Argentina,[37][38] The Consulate-General of Germany,[39] Consulate of Belgium, and the Consulate-General of South Korea are located in the Peachtree Center.[40] The Consulate-General of the United Kingdom is located in the Georgia-Pacific Tower.[41]


The Downtown Connector in Downtown Atlanta

There are many modes of transportation in Downtown Atlanta that can be used by tourists and residents. MARTA has two rail lines that converge in the middle of Downtown at Five Points MARTA station. This station is located at the corner of Peachtree Street SW and Alabama Street SW. The MARTA North-South Line has four stops in Downtown- the S1 Garnett, Five Points, N1 Peachtree Center, and N2 Civic Center. The MARTA East-West line has three stops in Downtown- the W1 Dome/Philips Arena/GWCC/CNN, Five Points, and E1 Georgia State.

MARTA also operates bus service in Downtown, which connects riders to other places in the city, such as Midtown, Buckhead, and other residential communities within the City of Atlanta, as well as suburban DeKalb County and suburban North Fulton and South Fulton County.

The primary way of getting around Downtown for many people is by car. Downtown Atlanta is served by the Downtown Connector which runs north and south through the Downtown area. The Connector is the primary artery of the city. The interstate carries traffic for commuters and visitors coming to the Downtown area. Downtown is also served by Interstate 20 which creates the southern border of Downtown.

Finally, Downtown has many surface streets as alternatives to the Downtown Connector. However, many of these surface streets are one way streets that complicates travel for drivers.


On March 14, 2008, at approximately 9:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time, a category EF2 tornado hit downtown with winds up to 135 miles per hour (217 km/h). This tornado caused damage to Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, the CNN Center and the Georgia World Congress Center. This is the first time a tornado touched ground in downtown Atlanta since weather records keeping began in the 1880s. While there were dozens of injuries, there was only one fatality.[42]


See also


  1. ^ Downtown Atlanta Living Report 2006, accessed July 5, 2007
  2. ^ CAP/ADID Doing Business - Atlanta-at-a-Glance
  3. ^ ATLANTA HISTORY, 1782-1859, accessed June 8, 2008
  4. ^ New Georgia Encyclopedia: Atlanta, accessed on July 29, 2009
  5. ^ History of Atlanta - 1792 to the 1900s, accessed July 29, 2009
  6. ^ CAP/ADID Having Fun - Atlanta History, accessed June 8, 2008
  7. ^ Western & Atlantic Railroad Zero Milepost-Atlanta: A National Register of Historical Places Travel Itinerary
  8. ^ ATLANTA HISTORY, 1782-1859
  9. ^ Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta/
  10. ^ [
  11. ^$File/Q4+2006+DFW+Office+Market+Report.pdf
  12. ^ Colliers Setup SPREADS
  13. ^ CAP/ADID Doing Business - Atlanta-at-a-Glance
  14. ^ "The Atlanta Region." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on January 17, 2010.
  15. ^ "Regional Offices: Aviation." National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  16. ^ Historic Federal Buildings, accessed on June 13, 2008
  17. ^ Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center - Atlanta Business Chronicle, accessed on June 13, 2008
  18. ^ Richard B. Russell Federal Building - ENERGY Start, accessed on June 13, 2008
  19. ^ Georgia Dome - About the Dome, accessed on June 13, 2008
  20. ^ The Official Site of The Atlanta Braves: Ballpark: Turner Field
  21. ^ GWCC, accessed on June 13, 2008
  22. ^ WOODRUFFPARK.COM, accessed June 13, 2008
  23. ^ History of the Park
  24. ^ History of Underground
  25. ^ Shops
  26. ^ Restaurants
  27. ^ Kenny's Alley
  28. ^ Explore the Aquarium - The Georgia Aquarium
  29. ^
  30. ^ Tabernacle Atlanta - History
  31. ^ Saporta, Maria (March 12, 1998), "Former House of Blues reopening in downtown as the Tabernacle", The Atlanta Journal and Constitution: F-2,,0EADA39E998BCCAC.html, retrieved 2009-02-02 
  32. ^ Peachtree Center - The Hearf of Atlanta
  33. ^ CAP/ADID- National Museum of Patriotism
  34. ^ CAP/ADID- National Museum of Health
  35. ^ The National Health Museum
  36. ^ Collier, Joe Guy. "AJC moving from downtown to Perimeter Mall area." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 17, 2009. Retrieved on October 23, 2009.
  37. ^ "Contáctenos." Consulate-General of Argentina in Atlanta. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  38. ^ "Peachtree Center" (Map). Peachtree Center. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  39. ^ "Address, Contact and Office Hours." Consulate-General of Germany in Atlanta. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  40. ^ "General Information." Consulate-General of South Korea in Atlanta. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  41. ^ "British Consulate-General - Atlanta." UK in the USA. Retrieved on July 28, 2009.
  42. ^ Tornado Claims One in Polk County by Tim Eberly and Paul Shea for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, March 15, 2008. Retrieved March 15, 2008.

External links

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