Downtown 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.Geography
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 the 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 Hill, and South Downtown.
The history of Downtown 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. In 1833, Lumpkin, who had become governor, requested 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 was founded in 1837, named for the end of the railroad line. 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.
By 1845, John Thomson, chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad, suggested that Marthasville's name be changed. The first suggestion was "Atlantica-Pacifica," which was shortened to "Atlanta." In 1847, Atlanta was incorporated, with the town limits extending in a one mile (1.6 km) radius from the mile marker at the railroad depot.
By the outbreak of the Civil War, Atlanta was a major railroad hub and manufacturing center, making it a target for the Union Army. In 1864,General William T. Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground during his "March to the Sea," making Atlanta the only major American city to ever be destroyed by war.
Atlanta's first resurgence began during Reconstruction. In 1868, Georgia's state capital was moved to the city from Milledgeville. By the 1920s, a downtown business sector ringed by residential districts had emerged.
Professional sports came to Atlanta in 1965 with the construction of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and the relocation of the Braves fromMilwaukee. The National Football League awarded the city the Falcons expansion team in 1966. The Hawks arrived in 1968, even thoughOmni Coliseum, the city's basketball arena, did not open until 1972. Atlanta's three major league sports team continue to play their home games downtown in updated facilities: Turner Field, the Georgia Dome, and Philips Arena.
From July 20 through August 4, 1996, Atlanta hosted the Centennial Olympic Games. The Olympics served as a catalyst for a resurgence of downtown, with Centennial Olympic Park, which was built as a physical memorial to the games, spurring the creation of a tourist district.
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 was 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.
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), 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:
- Westin Peachtree Plaza
- Georgia-Pacific Tower
- Marriott Marquis
- Flatiron Building
- SunTrust Plaza
- 191 Peachtree Tower
- Bank of America Plaza
- Centennial Tower (or known as 101 Marietta)
- Equitable Building
- Peachtree Center
- State of Georgia Building
Downtown Atlanta is divided into nine subdistricts: