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


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 few handouts about the history of the Underground.

The pamphlet below takes visitors on a walking tour of the structure. Starting from the previous home of the Railroad Depot, visitors can explore the landmarks and learn just how important the Underground is in Atlanta’s history.

Scan 1

Click to enlarge




I passed the smells from the food court that creep along the street and came across one particularly abandoned street, Lower Pryor Street, which once contained the Planter’s Hotel. This hotel was turned into a military hospital during the Civil War and served Union and Confederate soldiers alike.


Click to read about the history of the Gas Lamp

I followed the walking tour along the underground street. Once I arrived at the entrance again, I found myself in front of one of the oldest piece of history in the Underground. The Gas Light, seen to the right, is located in a dark corner, and its dim light shines with a yellow tint. The 19th century-era style outdated the Battle of Atlanta and the building of the Underground itself. The gas lamp has been kept in pristine condition and was present for the story of Sam Luckie. As one of the few free black in Atlanta, Sam Luckie was a successful business owner and well-known citizen. After being stuck by a canon shell, he was rushed to the hospital but died of injuries. This Gas Lamp and Luckie Street, stand in his honor.

From the moment you enter, the Underground Atlanta envelopes you in its rich history. The unique structure of this space takes you into a mini underground city that serves shoppers, workers, students, and tourists alike.

Works Cited

LiseKali. Not sure what the big deal is. Digital Image.

                       TripAdvisor. March 2007. Web. Feb 2016.


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