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Atlanta’s rising skyline through the years, in photos

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The growth of Atlanta’s skyline tells a story of a city long on the rise

Skyline of Midtown from the south.
The Midtown skyline from above the Georgia Aquarium.
Michael Kahn, Curbed

Atlanta’s skyline, stretching from downtown to Perimeter Center (and even through the Ga. Highway 400 corridor to Alpharetta, sort of), has been a long time in the making.

A visual history lesson began more than a century-and-a-half ago, today's skyline is comprised of buildings that predate any living Atlantan — and many other structures just being born.

This development cycle has significantly changed the built landscape of Atlanta, with loads of new buildings constructed in Midtown and Buckhead, though none have been true sky-piercers yet. As the evolution continues, let's ponder these images that illustrate just how drastically things have changed in the last 150 years.

Atlanta’s "skyline" following the Civil War was comprised of burned-out structures maxing out at three stories. The copula visible at the left of the photo is City Hall, which stood roughly where the Georgia State Capitol stands today.
via W. Daniel Anderson
Less than 25 years after the Civil War, Atlanta had begun to grow into a bustling commercial center for the region. Development was clustered around the arched-roof central train station — now the site of Underground Atlanta — with the turrets of the station-adjacent Kimball House Hotel, completed in 1885, being a focal point.
via W. Daniel Anderson
Atlanta of yore.
This photo, likely taken from the roof of the DeGives Opera House, which stood where the Georgia Pacific Building now stands, shows construction commencing on the Candler Building in 1905. High-rises have risen along Peachtree and Broad streets in the heart of downtown as the city boomed.
© Atlanta Journal-Constitution via GSU
This view looking southwest across the Fairlie-Poplar District, with Fairlie Street to the left and Cone Street to the right, shows many of the high-rises built in the 1910s and 1920s. An array of hotels punctuated the skyline, with the Ansley, Robert Fulton, and Glenn hotels all visible in the picture, likely taken from the top of 200 Peachtree Street which opened in 1927 as Davison-Paxon department store.
© Atlanta Journal-Constitution via GSU
The skyline in the 1950s appeared much as it had since before the Great Depression. Development didn’t return to the city until the later part of the decade, which shifted the style of the cityscape from classical masonry buildings to glassy modern high-rises.
Lane Brothers Photographs via GSU Archives
Downtown Atlanta was still the center of density for the city in the early 1960s when this post card was compiled. The construction of the interstate, visible across the bottom of the image, would quickly change the dynamic, drawing development northward toward Midtown.
via Atlanta Time Machine
Construction of Colony Square at 14th Street in brought high-rise development much farther north than ever before. The development of the complex in the early 1970s would precipitate a boom along Peachtree Street, knitting together downtown, visible far to the south, via the "Midtown Mile" as it is known today.
Dr. William Wood via Atlanta Time Machine
By 1990, skyline-defining buildings such as the Coca-Cola Headquarters (far left), Westin Peachtree Plaza, 191 Peachtree, and Georgia Pacific (clustered at center) had come to define downtown, south of North Avenue. In the distance, the growing Midtown skyline includes One Atlantic Center, BellSouth Center, and Ten Peachtree Place. Notably absent is Bank of America Plaza, which was constructed the following year.
© Atlanta Journal-Constitution via GSU.
While this photo was used to lure the Super Bowl to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the image dates back to around 2006. Taken from above Peachtree Street, near the Westin, the image shows Atlanta in the throes of a boom that was ultimately stifled by the recession two years later.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium

And now for some modern-era scenes ...