Underground Atlanta

Underground Atlanta, or “the original Atlanta,� is one of the most popular attractions in Georgia. A historic site combining Old Atlanta with contemporary world style, it is located in the heart of Downtown Atlanta, this is the spot where the Atlanta City sprouted up around the railroad and where it first rose from the Civil War ashes.

The City of Atlanta was founded entirely to meet the needs of the railroads. By 1836, a rail line was constructed between Atlanta and Chattanooga and 138 mile markers were placed. Among the markers, the point marked by an employee of the Western & Atlantic came to be known as the Zero-mile marker. The bustling Atlanta town emerged around this Zero Milepost, which still stands near the Underground Atlanta on the basement level of the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot (built in 1869), central Atlanta's oldest building.

Because Atlanta was built as a railroad center, the many train tracks through the city caused problems for vehicle traffic. In 1929, the downtown street level was moved one and a half storeys above ground level. The original street level area, between Peachtree Street and Central Avenue, is now known as the Underground Atlanta.

This five-block area of the downtown was declared a historic site in 1968 by the Atlanta Board of Aldermen. As a result, several architectural structures survived from original storefronts, including ornate marble, granite archways, cast iron pilasters, decorative brickwork and hand-carved wood posts and panels. A year later, the Underground Atlanta became the famous retail and entertainment hub.

In 1980, the construction of the MARTA rapid transit line resulted in the closing of the original Underground Atlanta. Nine years later, it was reopened at a cost of $142 million, through a joint project between the City of Atlanta and private industry.

Today, Underground Atlanta provides retail shops, fast food in the Old Alabama Eatery, unique features and entertainment, special events, and fine restaurants. In addition to the retail shops, it houses more than 100 street vendors who provide face painting, magic tricks, toys and fortunetelling.