Atlanta City Guide
Though steeped in history, Atlanta nevertheless remains a comparatively new city by East Coast standards, having been founded only in 1837 as the end of the Western & Atlantic railroad line (it was first named Marthasville in honor of the then-governor's daughter, nicknamed Terminus for its rail location, and then changed soon after to Atlanta, the feminine of Atlantic -- as in the railroad). Today the fast-growing city remains a transportation hub, not just for the country but for the world: Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport is one of the nations busiest in daily passenger flights. Direct flights to Europe, South America, and Asia have made metro Atlanta easily accessible to the more than 1,000 international businesses that operate there and the more than 50 countries that have representation in the city through consulates, trade offices, and chambers of commerce. The city has emerged as a banking center and is the world headquarters for such Fortune 500 companies as CNN, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Holiday Inn Worldwide, and United Parcel Service.
Atlanta is an international city, rich in culture, history and diversity. Numerous museums, attractions and entertainment options await visitors. Learn the history of one of the most popular drinks at the World of Coke and do a little shopping at Underground Atlanta next door. Tour the home of the Braves at Turner Field, see exotic plant life at the Atlanta Botanical Garden or come face to face with wild animals at Zoo Atlanta. Want to know more about Atlanta 's part in the War Between the States? Be sure to stop by the Atlanta History Center and the Cyclorama for a history lesson.
THINGS TO DO
BANK OF AMERICA BUILDING
35 Broad Street
Originally a Chicago-style edifice known as the Empire Building , this handsome 1901 classic was designed by Atlanta architect Phillip Trammel Shutze. In 1929 Shutze refashioned the first three floors, bestowing on them a decidedly Renaissance look. This is one of the city's first steel-frame structures, and at 14 stories one of its tallest, but during the renovation Shutze resheathed the base with masonry.
84 Peachtree Street
Asa G. Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company, engaged the local firm of Murphy and Stewart to design this splendid terra-cotta and marble building in 1906. The ornate bronze and marble lobby shouldn't be missed. Daily 9-5.
ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN
1345 Piedmont Avenue
Occupying 30 acres inside Piedmont Park , the grounds contain 15 acres of display gardens, including a serene Japanese garden, a 15-acre hardwood forest with walking trails, and the Fuqua Conservatory, which has unusual and threatened flora from tropical and desert climates. A permanent Fuqua Conservatory exhibit of tiny, brightly colored poison-dart frogs is popular, especially with children. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. COST: $10; Oct.-Feb. Tues.-Sun. 9-6.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN PANORAMIC EXPERIENCE (APEX)
135 Auburn Avenue
The museum's quarterly exhibits chronicle the history of black people in America . Videos illustrate the history of Sweet Auburn, the name bestowed on Auburn Avenue by businessman John Wesley Dobbs, who fostered business development for African-Americans on this street. www.apexmuseum.org. COST: $3. Sept.-May,Tues.-Sat. 10-5.
ATLANTA CYCLORAMA & CIVIL WAR MUSEUM
Grant Park, 800 Cherokee Ave.,
Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum In Grant Park (named for a New England-born Confederate colonel, not the U.S. president), you'll find a huge circular painting, completed by a team of expert European panorama artists shortly after the Civil War, depicting the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. The museum has one of the best Civil War bookstores anywhere. To reach the Cyclorama by car, take I-20 east to Exit 59A, turn right onto Boulevard, and then take a right at the next traffic light into Grant Park; follow signs to the Cyclorama. www.webguide.com/cyclorama.html. COST: $5. Sept.-May, daily 9:30-4:30.
ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
130 W. Paces Ferry Road
The museum highlights materials native to Georgia , with a floor of heart pine and polished Stone Mountain granite. Displays are provocative, juxtaposing Gone With the Wind romanticism with the grim reality of Ku Klux Klan racism. Also on the 33-acre site are the elegant 1928 Swan House ; the Tullie Smith Farm , with a two-story plantation plain house (1840s); and McElreath Hall , an exhibition space for artifacts from Atlanta 's history. www.atlantahistorycenter.com. COST: $12. Mon.-Sat. 10-5:30, Sun. noon-5:30.
ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF ART AND DESIGN
285 Peachtree Center Ave. ,
In the Peachtree Center in the Marriott Marquis Two Tower , this museum mounts major international exhibitions covering such subjects as textiles, puzzles, boxes, masks, and baskets. Exhibits focus on arts and crafts, design, and culture from around the globe. www.atlantainternationalmuseum.org. COST: Free. Weekdays 11-5
FERNBANK SCIENCE CENTER
156 Heaton Park Drive
The largest natural history museum south of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington , D.C. , holds a permanent exhibit, A Walk Through Time in Georgia . You can meander through 15 galleries to explore the earth's natural history. The museum's IMAX theater shows films about the natural world. The café, with an exquisite view overlooking the forest, serves great food. www.fernbank.edu/museum/. COST: Museum $12, IMAX $10, combination ticket $17. Museum Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-5; IMAX Mon.-Thurs. 10-5, Fri. 6:30 PM-10 PM , Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-5.
FERNBANK SCIENCE CENTER
156 Heaton Park Drive
The museum focuses on geology, space exploration, and ecology; it's best for younger children. Special seasonal programs for children under 5, priced at 50¢, are offered weekends at 1:30 from October through November, from early December through the first week of January, from the end of January to March 15, and during the summer. http://fsc.fernbank.edu/. COST: Museum free, planetarium shows $2. Mon. 8:30-5, Tues.-Fri. 8:30 AM-10 PM , Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5; planetarium shows Tues.-Fri. at 3:30 and 8, weekends at 3:30 .
GEORGIA STATE CAPITOL
A Renaissance-style edifice, the capitol was dedicated on July 4, 1889 . The gold leaf on its dome was mined in nearby Dahlonega. Inside, the Georgia Capitol Museum houses exhibits on the history of the capitol building. On the grounds, state historical markers commemorate the 1864 Battle of Atlanta, which destroyed 90% of the city. Statues memorialize a 19th-century Georgia governor and his wife (Joseph and Elizabeth Brown), a Confederate general (John B. Gordon), and a former senator (Richard B. Russell). Former Governor and President Jimmy Carter is depicted with his sleeves rolled up, a man at work. www.sos.state.ga.us/museum. Guided tours weekdays at 10, 11, 1, and 2.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. BIRTH HOME
501 Auburn Avenue
This modest Queen Anne-style historic home is managed by the National Park Service, which also has a visitor center across the street from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. The visitor center contains a multimedia exhibit focused on the civil rights movement and Dr. King's role in it. To sign up for tours, go to the fire station (39 Boulevard, Sweet Auburn). www.thekingcenter.org. COST: Free. Daily guided ½-hr tours every hr 10-5.
MICHAEL C. CARLOS MUSEUM
Housing a permanent collection of more than 16,000 objects, this excellent museum designed by renowned American architect Michael Graves exhibits artifacts from Egypt , Greece , Rome , the Near East , the Americas , and Africa . European and American prints and drawings cover the Middle Ages through the 20th century. The gift shop has rare art books, jewelry, and art-focused items for children. The museum's Caffé Antico is a good lunch spot. http://carlos.emory.edu/. COST: Suggested donation $5. Tues.-Wed. 10-5, Thurs. 10-9, Fri.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-5.
395 Piedmont Avenue
The Science and Technology Museum of Atlanta covers 96,000 square ft and has rotating exhibitions and daily science demonstrations at the Coca-Cola Science Show Theater. About 150 hands-on exhibits occupy four environments: Simple Machines; Light, Color, and Perception; Electricity and Magnetism; and Kidspace, for children ages 2-7. The Information Petting Zoo exhibits "cybercritters." www.scitrek.org. COST: $7.50. Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. noon-5.
WORLD OF COCA-COLA PAVILION
55 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
At this three-story, $15 million special-exhibit facility, you can sip samples of 38 Coca-Cola Company products from around the world and study memorabilia from more than a century's worth of corporate archives. Everything Coca-Cola, the gift shop, sells everything from refrigerator magnets to evening bags. www.woccatlanta.com. COST: $6. Sept.-May, Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. noon-6.
Grant Park, 800 Cherokee Avenue
Zoo Atlanta This zoo has nearly 1,000 animals living in naturalistic habitats, such as the Ford African Rain Forest, Flamingo Lagoon, Masai Mara (re-created plains of Kenya), and Sumatran Tiger exhibits. Sibling gorillas Kudzoo and Olympia are always hits. Don't miss the popular Chinese panda exhibit, consisting of two precocious bears named Yang Yang and Lun Lun. www.zooatlanta.org. COST: $16. Daily 9:30-4:30
A Good Tour of Downtown Atlanta
Downtown Atlanta clusters around the hub known as Five Points. Here is the MARTA station that intersects north-south and east-west transit lines. On the surface, Five Points is formed by the intersection of Peachtree Street with Marietta , Broad, and Forsyth streets.
This walk branches in three directions, which are most efficiently managed by taking MARTA trains to get quickly from one spot to the next. The valiant will, of course, prefer to go it on foot. Begin at Woodruff Park, and then proceed north on Peachtree Street, noting Atlanta's Flatiron Building on the west side of Peachtree and the Candler Building on the east side of the street. Nearby on Peachtree Street at John Wesley Dobbs Avenue is the modern Georgia-Pacific Center , and across from it are Margaret Mitchell Park and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library. Continuing north up Peachtree Street , note the sprawling Peachtree Center complex, which includes the small but worthwhile Atlanta International Museum of Art and Design. Walk east on Baker Street one block to Courtland Street ; head north on Courtland until you reach Ralph McGill Boulevard . Here you'll find an open-air folk art exhibition known as the Folk Art Park.
Return to Peachtree Center and take the subway one stop to the Five Points MARTA station, from which you can walk north on Peachtree Street to the William-Oliver Building , an award-winning restoration. (From Folk Art Park you can also follow Ralph McGill Boulevard west to Peachtree and retrace your steps south to the William-Oliver Building .) From here, go east on Edgewood Avenue and just ahead you'll see the Hurt Building , a rare Atlanta example of Chicago-style architecture. Around the corner on Marietta Street at Broad Street is the handsome Bank of America Building, and nearby is the Statue of Henry Grady, right across from the building now housing the newspaper he founded, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. At Marietta Street and Techwood Drive , Centennial Olympic Park hosts concerts and special events. Adjacent to the park is CNN Center , which you may tour (by reservation). At the rear of the center is the Georgia Dome.
At the CNN Center/Georgia Dome station, take MARTA one station to the Five Points station and exit at the sign for Underground Atlanta . After taking a rest and a restorative snack in its food court, wander the maze of subterranean streets here and leave through the Central Avenue exit of Underground Atlanta, bearing slightly south toward the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot. Across the plaza from the depot is the World of Coca-Cola Pavilion, with fun memorabilia on display. Across Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at Central Avenue is the historic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, one of many historic churches still operating in downtown. Just south of the shrine are the neo-Gothic City Hall, with a modern addition housing a permanent art collection, which is on Mitchell Street , and the Renaissance-style Georgia State Capitol on Washington Street .
This walk requires at least a day, assuming you don't spend much time at any one location. If you plan to walk at a more leisurely pace, finish the first day at the Folk Art Park, and allow another half day for the rest of the walk. If you plan tours of CNN Center , the Georgia Dome, and World of Coca-Cola, you'll need an additional half day. If you tour these sights at length, it will probably take two full days to cover the territory. The terrain is fairly level and not too taxing, with sidewalks the entire distance.
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