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A Walking Tour Of Atlanta's Architectural Artifacts

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Contrary to popular and pessimistic belief, Atlanta has buildings worth looking at, and they're accessible via mobility concepts called "walking" and "transit." Whether you're a design geek, a history junkie, or joe-schmo who's bored and looking for free activities, this dorky tour is what the doctor ordered. Besides, the weather's pristine. Slip on comfy kicks, load up your Breeze card and see the city you call home. We'll start downtown and work our way to Midtown next week; hopefully we whet your appetite for further urban exploration.


— Reporting by Curbed Atlanta contributor Jonathan Carnright

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1. Georgia State Capitol (1889)

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206 Washington Street Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30334

A serious Neoclassical Revival pile of Indiana limestone, this important structure occupies one of downtown's highest points and is regularly home to some crazy shenanigans. The gold dome is an Atlanta landmark, and a relatively recent one at that: Before the 1950s it was covered in considerably less fancy tin.

2. Atlanta City Hall (1930)

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55 Trinity Avenue Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

Our Depression-era City Hall takes the form of a Neo-Gothic skyscraper that rises 14 stories near the State Capitol. The real showstopper is the lobby, which wows with gilded surfaces, polished marble, original Art Deco lighting, and elevator doors that define "ornate."

3. Hotel Row (early 20th century)

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205 Mitchell Street Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

This delightfully shabby block was originally built to serve patrons and workers of Atlanta's now demolished Terminal Station. The hotels are gone, but the structures exist in more or less original condition that has attracted plenty of filming lately. While you're at it, be sure to check out one of Atlanta's best remaining commercial blocks from the Victorian era, located at 142 Mitchell Street.

4. Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building (1933)

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77 Forsyth Street
Atlanta, GA 30303

Atlanta's main post office was once located in this monumental marble building, which was constructed as part of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. Its Stripped Classical style is a slick fusion of old and new, with spare surfaces meeting historically inspired detailing in just the right places.

5. William Oliver Building (1930)

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32 Peachtree Street Northwest, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303

Built as offices and transformed into residential condos, the William-Oliver Building makes for a striking Art Deco landmark in the heart of Five Points. The red granite base supports sixteen stories of limestone; its enthusiastic ornamentation is some of Atlanta's finest from this era. The bronze entrance canopy is a work of art in its own right.

6. Citizens and Southern National Bank Building (1901/1929)

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35 Broad Street Northwest, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303

Noted Atlanta architect Philip Shutze designed a massive overhaul of the lower part of this office structure in the 1920s, giving the first three floors of an otherwise routine office building a heavily serious Classical look appropriate for a bank. If possible, be sure to check out the interior of the branch; there's a place you wouldn't mind waiting in line for a teller.

7. Healey Building (1913)

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57 Forsyth Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

The Healey Building shares the same Neo-Gothic styling as Atlanta City Hall, but was built when that kind of decoration was actually considered fashionable. A twin tower was once planned for the same block; World War II put a damper on those plans. The current condo residents probably appreciate that historical fact as it kept views unimpeded. Your best bet for a beautiful view is the lobby rotunda, one of downtown's more magical interior spaces.

8. Flatiron Building (1897)

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84 Peachtree Street Northwest, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303

Our own triangular skyscraper came out of the ground four years before New York's more famous version; it's now the oldest tall building to survive Atlanta's penchant for demolition. Beside its distinctive footprint, the Flatiron is also notable for its rhythmic use of bay windows, something pioneered in Chicago.

9. Candler Building (1906)

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127 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30303

One look at the Candler's over-the-top marble carvings, and there's no doubt this is Atlanta's most luscious office building hailing from the early 20th century. Visible among the marble frosting on this 17-story structure are the likes of Shakespeare and Raphael, various flora and fauna, and a double pair of stern looking atlantes (the buff dudes holding up the entrances). Asa Candler — founder of the Coca Cola empire — spared no expense making this a showplace. Don't miss the building's lobby, which continues the extravagant aesthetic but with the addition of brass and crystal.

10. Georgia Pacific Center (1982)

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133 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30303

There's not much to see at street level (a plaza and some blank walls), but there's no denying the distinctive silhouette the GPC forms on Atlanta's skyline. Looking up at the building's uninterrupted rise from its southern face is a dehumanizing experience indeed. Side note: "Gone with the Wind" premiered at the Loew's Grand Theater which occupied this site until going up in flames in the late 1970s.

11. 191 Peachtree Tower (1990)

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191 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30303

John Burgee Architects teamed up with Philip Johnson to give downtown its most distinctive Postmodern skyscraper, which almost looks like two towers owing to a clever recess in the middle of the shaft. A grandly arched entrance on Peachtree Street leads to a lobby done up in an encyclopedia of marbles; The tower's setback keeps it from completely overwhelming Peachtree.

12. Atlanta-Fulton County Library (1980)

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20 Forsyth Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

Here we have an aesthetic cousin to New York's Whitney Museum, and for good reason: both buildings were designed by groundbreaking Modernist Marcel Breuer. While some see an overbearing block of concrete, others appreciate the structure's unapologetic monumentality and the subtleties of its diagonal striations. Although its fate has been up in the air recently with talks of a more welcoming replacement, there's reason to believe that the library's pedigree could save it from the fate of so many past Atlanta landmarks. (ACTUAL ADDRESS: 1 Margaret Mitchell Sq NW, Atlanta, GA 30303)

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1. Georgia State Capitol (1889)

206 Washington Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30334

A serious Neoclassical Revival pile of Indiana limestone, this important structure occupies one of downtown's highest points and is regularly home to some crazy shenanigans. The gold dome is an Atlanta landmark, and a relatively recent one at that: Before the 1950s it was covered in considerably less fancy tin.

206 Washington Street Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30334

2. Atlanta City Hall (1930)

55 Trinity Avenue Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30303

Our Depression-era City Hall takes the form of a Neo-Gothic skyscraper that rises 14 stories near the State Capitol. The real showstopper is the lobby, which wows with gilded surfaces, polished marble, original Art Deco lighting, and elevator doors that define "ornate."

55 Trinity Avenue Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

3. Hotel Row (early 20th century)

205 Mitchell Street Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30303

This delightfully shabby block was originally built to serve patrons and workers of Atlanta's now demolished Terminal Station. The hotels are gone, but the structures exist in more or less original condition that has attracted plenty of filming lately. While you're at it, be sure to check out one of Atlanta's best remaining commercial blocks from the Victorian era, located at 142 Mitchell Street.

205 Mitchell Street Southwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

4. Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building (1933)

77 Forsyth Street, Atlanta, GA 30303

Atlanta's main post office was once located in this monumental marble building, which was constructed as part of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. Its Stripped Classical style is a slick fusion of old and new, with spare surfaces meeting historically inspired detailing in just the right places.

77 Forsyth Street
Atlanta, GA 30303

5. William Oliver Building (1930)

32 Peachtree Street Northwest, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303

Built as offices and transformed into residential condos, the William-Oliver Building makes for a striking Art Deco landmark in the heart of Five Points. The red granite base supports sixteen stories of limestone; its enthusiastic ornamentation is some of Atlanta's finest from this era. The bronze entrance canopy is a work of art in its own right.

32 Peachtree Street Northwest, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303

6. Citizens and Southern National Bank Building (1901/1929)

35 Broad Street Northwest, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303

Noted Atlanta architect Philip Shutze designed a massive overhaul of the lower part of this office structure in the 1920s, giving the first three floors of an otherwise routine office building a heavily serious Classical look appropriate for a bank. If possible, be sure to check out the interior of the branch; there's a place you wouldn't mind waiting in line for a teller.

35 Broad Street Northwest, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303

7. Healey Building (1913)

57 Forsyth Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30303

The Healey Building shares the same Neo-Gothic styling as Atlanta City Hall, but was built when that kind of decoration was actually considered fashionable. A twin tower was once planned for the same block; World War II put a damper on those plans. The current condo residents probably appreciate that historical fact as it kept views unimpeded. Your best bet for a beautiful view is the lobby rotunda, one of downtown's more magical interior spaces.

57 Forsyth Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30303

8. Flatiron Building (1897)

84 Peachtree Street Northwest, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303

Our own triangular skyscraper came out of the ground four years before New York's more famous version; it's now the oldest tall building to survive Atlanta's penchant for demolition. Beside its distinctive footprint, the Flatiron is also notable for its rhythmic use of bay windows, something pioneered in Chicago.

84 Peachtree Street Northwest, Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA 30303

9. Candler Building (1906)

127 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30303

One look at the Candler's over-the-top marble carvings, and there's no doubt this is Atlanta's most luscious office building hailing from the early 20th century. Visible among the marble frosting on this 17-story structure are the likes of Shakespeare and Raphael, various flora and fauna, and a double pair of stern looking atlantes (the buff dudes holding up the entrances). Asa Candler — founder of the Coca Cola empire — spared no expense making this a showplace. Don't miss the building's lobby, which continues the extravagant aesthetic but with the addition of brass and crystal.

127 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30303

10. Georgia Pacific Center (1982)

133 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30303

There's not much to see at street level (a plaza and some blank walls), but there's no denying the distinctive silhouette the GPC forms on Atlanta's skyline. Looking up at the building's uninterrupted rise from its southern face is a dehumanizing experience indeed. Side note: "Gone with the Wind" premiered at the Loew's Grand Theater which occupied this site until going up in flames in the late 1970s.

133 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30303

11. 191 Peachtree Tower (1990)

191 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30303

John Burgee Architects teamed up with Philip Johnson to give downtown its most distinctive Postmodern skyscraper, which almost looks like two towers owing to a clever recess in the middle of the shaft. A grandly arched entrance on Peachtree Street leads to a lobby done up in an encyclopedia of marbles; The tower's setback keeps it from completely overwhelming Peachtree.

191 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30303

12. Atlanta-Fulton County Library (1980)

20 Forsyth Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30303

Here we have an aesthetic cousin to New York's Whitney Museum, and for good reason: both buildings were designed by groundbreaking Modernist Marcel Breuer. While some see an overbearing block of concrete, others appreciate the structure's unapologetic monumentality and the subtleties of its diagonal striations. Although its fate has been up in the air recently with talks of a more welcoming replacement, there's reason to believe that the library's pedigree could save it from the fate of so many past Atlanta landmarks. (ACTUAL ADDRESS: 1 Margaret Mitchell Sq NW, Atlanta, GA 30303)

20 Forsyth Street Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30303