Exterior Built Environment: Welcome to the Underground

Welcome to Underground Atlanta The Underground Atlanta is arguably the most unique space in downtown. Located underneath Alabama Street, this historic landmark blends its interior and exterior environment. As seen in the picture below, the view from the street level shows us the split-level structure. Click to read about the Underground’s structure tripadvisor.com It was about 3:30 pm on one of those sunny winter days in Georgia that is slightly warm in the sun but chilly in the shade. While walking along Upper Alabama Street, often referred to as “the attic”, I saw couples sitting along the lower level fountain, students with Georgia State t-shirts strolling along the street, business people rushing back to work from their lunch, and homeless people lounging, seemingly trying to soak up as much sun as they could while it was out. One family of tourists was reading the historic plaques located throughout the space and taking pictures along the fountain with their pamphlets and key chains in hand. Click to read about the Underground’s interior To enter the Underground, I proceeded down the stairs and entered through the glass doors. Once inside, I could see that the dark, red bricks streets were lined with concrete sidewalks. The storefronts along Lower Alabama Street featured organic beauty stores, tourism merchandise, clothing stores, jewelers, and vendor stalls. Many of the storefronts, I noticed, were locked up and abandoned. As I walked to the other end of Lower Alabama Street, I came across a life-sized model train that was used as an information booth. Historic pictures and facts lined the walls, and I was able to obtain a...

Welcome to the Underground 5

The following flyer is another example of the information provided on the history of the Underground. This document gives visitors an outline of its history from the site’s origins to the city’s current plans. The timeline shows Underground Atlanta’s high points, like its first opening as a shopping district in the 20’s and its revamp in the 70s, and its low points, like the period between 1930-1969 when the city was growing and the Underground fell...

Welcome to The Underground 4

When visitors want to explore the Underground, the information desk provides pamphlets and flyers of information. Specifically, the pamphlet pictured below invites people to take a “Walking History Tour” and guides visitors through their own historical tour. Starting with the Railroad Depot, the tour goes through the history behind the storefronts, the underground street intersections, the Gas Light mentioned in my previous post, and even up to the upper, street level. Tourists can physically see the...

Welcome to The Underground: Visit #1 Field Notes

People Watching: Homeless people lounging (seemingly trying to soak up the sun); people sitting along the fountain outside (eating, talking); shoppers browsing, workers rushing back from their lunch break, GSU students eating in the food court and shopping, tourists (few) reading historic plaques located around the establishment; mainly African-American, “Atlantans”; Environment: 3:30 pm on one of those sunny winter days in Georgia that is slightly warm in the sun but cold in the shade; In the Underground, it seems dark, and slightly abandoned (because of the lack of people and some closed storefronts); red brick “streets” and concrete sidewalks (real underground streets); Laid-back vibe; Stores and vendors line the underground streets (all-natural beauty products, clothing, Atlanta merchandise); One particularly abandoned street with no businesses or traffic at the intersection of Alabama and Pryor street (further investigation: a plaque explains there was once a hotel located in that spot); other generally deserted area there’s a model train that is used as an information booth (around the train there are facts and pictures of historic underground); food court; Ads around the underground invite tourists to explore Atlanta; relatively clean area Food: smells of food court serving Asian food, southern style food, subway, etc History: There are plaques located around with information about the history of the spot they are located; The Gas Lamp; Train memorabilia; structure is dated but kept in decent condition; Info desk has handouts about history; “Walking Tour” pamphlet; historic facts/photos around train info booth Walking Tour: took walking tour (guided by pamphlet); Gas Lamp; Railroad Depot; Upper/Street Level; Underground is actually called the main level and the street level is referred to as “the attic”; Peachtree...

Welcome to The Underground 3

The rich history of the Underground dates back to the early 1900s. Since then, it has undergone several transformations and seen many eras. However, there is one aspect of the Underground that is even older and has outlived its original structures. The Gas Lamp, located at the lower entrance to the Underground, was created in 1856 by the Atlanta Gas Light Company and was shelled by Union artillery prior to the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. This lamp is significant because of the story of Sam Luckie, one of the few free blacks in Atlanta, who died of injuries from a racially motivated attack. This business owner and citizen was leaning against this lamp when the attack happened. Luckie Street in downtown Atlanta is named in his...
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