Like its symbol, the legendary phoenix of Egyptian mythology, Atlanta rose from the ashes with renewed strength and beauty. Following the destruction during the Civil War, Atlanta became the mecca of the new South, and today is an exciting international city.

The first people to live in Georgia were prehistoric Indians called Mound Builders. The Cherokee Indians, who settled north and west of the Chattahoochee River, and the Creek, who populated the area south and east of the Chattahoochee, followed them. The state was named after Great Britain's King George II and was the last of the 13 original U.S. colonies.

Atlanta began taking substantive shape in 1837 when the Western & Atlantic Railroad selected the site as the southern end of its tracks. The town was called Terminus until 1843 when it was renamed Marthasville after the daughter of Gov. Wilson Lumpkin. In 1847, the city was renamed Atlanta, supposedly a feminine form of "Atlantic" probably created by an engineer with the Western & Atlantic. The city was incorporated in 1847.

By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta was a major railroad hub, manufacturing center and supply depot. But in 1864 in order to cripple transportation between the South and the North, Union General William T. Sherman's army burned all of the railroad facilities, almost every business and more than two-thirds of the city's homes to the ground during his infamous "March to the Sea." Atlanta lay in ruins, the only major American city ever destroyed by war.

Atlanta's first resurgence began soon after. Within four years of Sherman's attack, the Georgia capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta and a drive to attract new business was under way. One man, newspaper editor Henry W. Grady, earned much of the credit for coaxing the "brave and beautiful city," as he called it, toward a new economic agenda in a new, reconciled South.

In the meantime, colleges and universities began to open, telephones were introduced and trolleys began to roll. In 1895, the Cotton States and International Exposition in Piedmont Park showed 800,000 visitors and residents that Atlanta was headed in a new direction and braced for the 20th century.

By the late 1920s, a downtown business sector, ringed by residential districts, had taken shape giving Atlanta much of the distinct pattern it maintains today. At the same time, Atlanta Alderman (and later Mayor) William B. Hartsfield campaigned long and hard to convince the city to turn a vacant racetrack into an airport.

While the city continued its economic surge, it also became known as the "City Too Busy to Hate." Atlanta and Georgia pre-empted much of the strife associated with the 1950s and '60s by taking the lead in the Southeast in strengthening minority rights. The city's strongest identification with the movement was through its native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but many others played key roles. In 1963, Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. was the only Southern mayor to testify before Congress in support of the pending Civil Rights Bill. When Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, Mayor Allen pleaded for calm. His request was met with anguished, but peaceful, mourning throughout the city.

In 1965, the city built Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium despite the fact that it had not signed any teams to play there. In short order, however, baseball's Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee and the National Football League awarded the city the Falcons expansion team. Hank Aaron hit his historic home run number 715 at the stadium in April 1974.

Much has been accomplished in the last 25 years to elevate Atlanta to world-class status. An efficient public transportation system, MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), was put in place; Underground Atlanta was added to the entertainment map; the Georgia World Congress Center made the city a convention hub; the Georgia Dome was built in 1992; and Philips Arena was built in 1999.

And decision-makers have taken notice. Atlanta hosted the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994, Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, the NBA All Star Game in 2003, and the 2003 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four.

From July 20 through August 4, 1996, the eyes of the world were on Atlanta as the city hosted the Centennial Olympic Games. The city successfully hosted the biggest Olympic games ever, showcasing itself to 2 million people in person and through global broadcast to 3.5 billion people - more than two-thirds of the world's population - thus sharing Atlanta's vision and America's spirit.

The Olympics served as a catalyst for a second resurgence of Atlanta as it dramatically transforms from great American city to greater international city by launching more than $2 billion in new construction projects and other changes.

Courtesy of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Downtown is one of the most consistently vibrant places in Atlanta. Whether it is a ball game at Philips Arena, a concert at the Tabernacle, a gallery opening in Castleberry Hill, a fancy dinner in the Downtown Dining District , or bar hopping along Edgewood Avenue – Downtown has it all. People repeatedly lament that Downtown shuts down after 5 p.m., and during the day it's just students going to class and office workers on the street grabbing lunch. Watch this video to see the vibrancy that exists both during daylight and in the nighttime in Downtown Atlanta. There is no denying that Downtown is truly becoming a 24-hour neighborhood.

Downtown Atlanta Museums & Galleries

Listing all 28 results in Museums & Galleries:

  • 3TEN HAUSTUDIO - 310 Peters St SW
  • America's Soul Food Museum - 372 Auburn Ave NE
  • The APEX Museum - 135 Auburn Ave
  • Artist Trifecta - 161 Mangum St SW
  • Arts for All Gallery at VSA arts of Georgia - 57 Forsyth St
  • Atlanta Contemporary Art Center - 535 Means St
  • Besharat Gallery - 175 Peters St SW
  • Big House Gallery - 211 Peters St SW
  • Clay's Gallery - 572 Edgewood Ave
  • Emerging Art Scene Gallery - 321 Nelson St SW
  • Ernest G. Welch School of Art + Design Gallery - 10 Peachtree Center Ave
  • Jimmy Carter Library and Museum - 441 Freedom Pkwy
  • The King Center - 449 Auburn Ave NE
  • Krause Gallery - 291 Peters St
  • Lynne Farris Gallery - 50 Hurt Plz
  • Marcia Wood Gallery - 263 Walker St
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site - 450 Auburn Ave NE
  • Paige Harvey Art Studio - 132 Cone St
  • Peters Street Gallery - 163 Peters St SW
  • The Rialto Center for the Arts - 80 Forsyth St NW
  • Skot Foreman Fine Art - 315 Peters St SW
  • Stable 1897 - 261 Peters St
  • Studio Clout - 144 Walker St SW
  • Sue's Studio & Gallery - 231 Peachtree St
  • Ty Stokes Gallery - 261 Walker St
  • U*Space Gallery - 439 Edgewood Ave
  • Youth Art Connection Gallery - 63 Auburn Ave
  • ZuCot Gallery - 100 Centennial Olympic Park Dr

    As Castleberry Hill's premier fine art gallery and event space, ZuCot's mission is to showcase the best contemporary art from throughout the world in a striking, design-orientated space. The gallery's international collection of original work includes pieces by artists from a multitude of cultures and artistic disciplines.

    Showcase artists include Alice Locoge, Nathalie Ramirez, Caroline Laffargue and Richard Simonsen. Rotating exhibitions of local artists are featured on the mezzanine level. Our huge digital projection screen regularly showcases the latest in short film, cinematography and video installation.

  • Grade-A sushi, prime cut steaks and sweet-potato soufflé are all part of what makes Downtown Atlanta a culinary wonder.

    Long known for modern presentation of traditional southern cooking, Atlanta restaurants also offer authentic tapas, homemade cornbread, Thai noodles, and a variety of other ethnic selections that represent Atlanta's diverse culture. Come taste the flavor of Downtown Atlanta!

    Agatha's "A Taste of Mystery" Dinner Theatre
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    Agatha's "A Taste of Mystery" Dinner Theatre
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    Agatha's is a comedy murder mystery dinner theater with audience participation, maximum of 170 people. All shows are original comedy murder mystery plays that take place in the dining room between the courses of the meal

    Atlanta Grill, Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
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    The Atlanta Grill offers grilled steaks, chops and seafood as well as Southern-inspired cuisine in a club-like, warm atmosphere. Large murals commissioned just for Atlanta Grill grace the walls of the restaurant & bar. The restaurant is also home to one of the city's most entertaining displays of vintage photographs featuring daily downtown life & various local leaders & celebrities.

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    After nearly ten years of operation, AZIO Downtown has established itself as a cornerstone of Cartel Restaurants, Inc., as well as a wonderful option to diners in the downtown area. We offer a contemporary interpretation of traditional Italian cuisine in a refined yet casual setting. Offering a stunning ambience, a vast selection of Italian fare and a reputation for great service, AZIO Downtown is the perfect option for dining out downtown - lunch or dinner.

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    Benihana has been a fixture in Downtown Atlanta for more than 20 years and recently reopened following renovations that offers traditional Japanese cuisine in a more spacious setting. Highly skilled and well-trained, your personal chef will entertain you as they cook such favorites as steak, chicken, seafood and fresh vegetables in traditional Japanese style on a hibachi table. The tables seat up to 10 people communal style and are the perfect fit for that special occasion with family or friends.

    BLT Steak
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    BLT Steak's design integrates select traditional elements of the French "Bistro" and an American "Steakhouse". Thoughtful artwork in the form of photographs is hung throughout the bar and dining room, which speak to the history of fine food as experienced by Chef Laurent Tourondel.

    Cafe Circa
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    Cafe Circa offers a casually sophisticated environment that uniquely merges classic style and modern elements with scrumptious signature menu items and a premium bar offering a list of specialty drinks, creative cocktails, and martinis for every taste. Relax in the ultra lounge atmosphere where an eclectic menu with exotic international flavors awaits you.

    CNN Center
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    Whether you are headed to a game, concert or just out for lunch - the restaurants at CNN Center offer something for everyone. Choose from a selection of quick casual restaurants including Chick-fil-A, Great Wraps, Dunkin' Donuts and more. Adjacent to Philips Arena, Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome, Omni Hotel and the Georgia World Congress Center.

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    Dantanna's Downtown is much more than a Downtown Atlanta Sports Bar – Dantanna's is the originator of the upscale sports restaurant concept and after a successful introduction in Buckhead, Dantanna's has brought their signature style to Downtown Atlanta. Conveniently located in the CNN center, Dantanna's Downtown is a short walk away from Downtown Atlanta's major attractions and office district.

    Der Biergarten
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    Willkommen! Just in time to kick off Oktoberfest 2010, Der Biergarten has opened in Atlanta, giving local residents and visitors a true taste of German culture. Our new dining destination, located within the Luckie Marietta District, fills a citywide void for a beer garden and authentic German fare while providing world-class service in a festive, traditional atmosphere

    French American Brasserie
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    There is an art to simplicity and being able to take the time to enjoy good food and company. No one understands that better than French American Brasserie. Atlanta's favorite brasserie, previously known as Brasserie Le Coze, has returned to the city in a beautiful new space that resembles a majestic grand brasserie from centuries past.

    Hard Rock Cafe
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    If the B-52's song "Love Shack" were to ever find a permanent home, Atlanta's Hard Rock Cafe would be the place. With its southern charm and renowned hospitality, this location truly gives meaning to our "Love All Serve All" motto. Situated in downtown Atlanta's Cornerstone Building, our restaurant could be considered a cornerstone of southern rock.
    Legal Sea Foods
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    Legal Sea Foods, located across from Georgia Aquarium, is a two-story restaurant (with downstairs Oyster Bar) that's double the fun for Atlantans who love seafood. Nine signature cocktails, 30 wines by the glass and 40 varieties of fresh fish and shellfish will get you hooked. The restaurant has received a boatload of accolades including the honor of serving its legendary New England Clam Chowder at every presidential inauguration since 1981.

    Max Lager's Wood Fired
    Grill & Brewery
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    Max Lager's was one of the first restaurants to bring the fresh and natural wood-fired menu concept to Atlanta. The art of cooking with wood enhances the Max Lager's experience with bold flavors simply not found with alternative cooking methods. We feel that the investment made in the wood-fired grill is an investment that pays great dividends to our guests.

    Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria
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    Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria wows Atlantans with the simple, delicious and authentic pizza that New Yorkers have loved for years. The restaurant's signature feature, the only genuine coal-burning oven in Georgia, enables Max's to serve perfectly crisp and piping hot pizzas, creating a unique taste and texture that has been a hallmark of New York City pizzerias for more than a century.

    Meehan's Public House
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    Meehan's is an authentic Irish eatery that offers a full menu of classic Irish dishes elevated to the gourmet level. With over 4,000 square feet to spare, Meehan's is the perfect place to gather for a quick lunch, after work pints and cocktails, dinner with friends and late night fun. Our charming public house adds to the Downtown area with its Celtic character, Irish customs and neighborhood charm.

    No Mas! Cantina
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    No Mas! Cantina serves sumptuous Mexican food in a sensual decor. The menu combines richly flavored favorites and unique dishes with a special flair, like the skewered Shrimp Alhambres, or Tender Pork Chops served grilled and glazed.

    Peachtree Center
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    Peachtree Center's three-tiered retail mall is located in the heart of Atlanta at the corner of Peachtree Street and International Boulevard. With over 60 specialty shops, including six full-scale restaurants and more than 20 personal and business services you can handle your personal needs and errands at the convenience of your day.

    Peasant Bistro
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    Our new Bistro menu consists classics as well as exciting new creations from the Chef. Our extensive wine list consists of remarkable wines in every price range. We have several options for private dining, including seated dinners for 20-150 and receptions for up to 500. There is a beautiful patio for dining or private events to 60 people.

    PittyPat's Porch
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    The story is told that when Scarlett visited Atlanta she always stayed with Aunt Pittypat. During those visits, Aunty Pitty would prepare only her best recipes. At Pittypat's Porch, the tradition continues... Begin with a cool beverage; then sample our unique appetizers. Our Pittypat's sideboard comes next, followed by our traditional southern entrees, created in new southern style, served with lots of homemade breads and vegetables.

    Ray's in the City
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    Ray's in the City is a casual seafood house restaurant offering the best seasonal and fresh seafood available. Seafood is flown in daily from the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf. Enjoy fresh shucked oysters which can be enjoyed at your table or at the oyster bar or made to order sushi, sashimi, or nigiri at the sushi bar.

    Rise Sushi Lounge
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    Rise Sushi Lounge offers fresh seafood in a chic modern atmosphere spearheaded by “master” sushi Chef Tony Wang. This premier dining destination attracts travelers and locals alike. In addition to cutting edge sushi and Asian/Fusion cuisine, Rise offers an extensive sake selection and sophisticated house prepared infusions and specialty cocktails.

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    ROOM at TWELVE is a modern American Steakhouse situated on the ground floor of TWELVE Centennial Park. A stimulating hot spot to sip on handcrafted cocktails and a relaxing destination for exceptional wines and foods, Room elevates the typical steakhouse standards, providing an extraordinary dining experience for hotel guests, residents and locals alike.

    Ruth's Chris Steak House
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    Revered by steak connoisseurs around the globe, Ruth's Chris Steak House's USDA prime aged, Midwestern corn-fed beef has earned the restaurant an international reputation as “The Home of Serious Steaks." Live Maine lobster, extraordinary seafood, prime lamb, and a mouthwatering array of appetizers and vegetables are equally as outstanding. Award–winning wine list and private accommodations for up to 300.

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    In the heart of Downtown Atlanta, Sidebar is Downtown's true neighborhood bar. Serving neighborhood locals, Georgia State University students, downtown workers, as well as your occasional out of town visitor, Sidebar has distinguished itself since opening on August 27th of 2003

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    Spoon brings you an authentic taste of Thailand complemented by Chef Aim's personal touches of spice and composition. Stop by for a quick lunch or hang-out for dinner and drinks. Spoon's staff is sure to deliver neighborhood style service with food you'll be coming back for.

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    STATS features a classic American menu that includes something for everyone. The unique take on tried-and-true favorites are sure bets to please every palate by fusing seasonal ingredients with unique flavors to produce creative offerings that have guests rethinking typical bar food.

    Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View
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    The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View is Atlanta's only tri-level dining complex featuring a revolving upscale restaurant, a rotating cocktail lounge and an observatory View Level offering a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of the magnificent Atlanta skyline.

    Sweet Auburn Curb Market
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    Just as when it was founded in 1918, the Curb Market offers an exotic array of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and fish. The market also stocks numerous specialty products. A selection of small cafes serve daily meals that range from soul food to gourmet Italian cuisine to one of the best burgers in the city.

    Terrace on Peachtree
    The Ellis Hotel
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    Celebrating traditional American heirloom recipes by working closely with local and regional farmers, fishermen and artisan purveyors by cooking food that recaptures the pure simple flavors and tastes of natural and organic ingredients. We also strive to raise awareness for a more local and sustainable food culture while working to re-establish a vibrant sense of community through good food. Literally, farm to table.

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    Thrive's space is a unique blend of sleek contemporary and luxury designed by renowned architect Bill Johnson. Thrive's excitingly diverse food and drink menus offer something for everyone. Late night shifts from gourmet restaurant to a hip lounge spot.

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    Truva is committed to providing a comfortable, cozy, unique dining experience that will surpass expectations. Their main objective is to delight with the finest Mediterranean cuisine prepared with a fusion. The exotic décor combined with exceptional service will sweep guests away to a place of romance and charisma. Couples, families and single diners will all find a welcoming atmosphere.

    Underground Atlanta
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    Johnny Rockets
    Georgia Peach
    Scores Sports Bar

    Located in the heart of Downtown, Underground Atlanta is bustling with activity, day or night. Enjoy daily entertainment by Atlanta's talented residents, caricature drawings and fortune telling, homemade candy, delicious dining and souvenir shopping. After dark, enjoy our clubs and restaurants in Kenny's Alley for a night of pure entertainment.

    Johnny Rockets boasts great tasting food, including juicy hamburgers, classic sandwiches and hand dipped shakes and malts.

    Georgia Peach is a Taste of the South topped with quality service and ambiance.

    Footprints Restaurant & Lounge has the best reggae music in ATL and excellent Jamaican cuisine.
    Scores Sports Bar & Restaurant is a family friendly headquarters for Underground Atlanta with food drink specials . Scores supports all local Atlanta colleges.

About Economic Development

Economic development initiatives are an integral part of what CAP does. Since 2001 we have had an Economic Development department dedicated to promoting the economic vitality of Downtown Atlanta through retention of existing businesses, recruitment of new businesses and encouragement of private and public investment in new development and adaptive reuse of existing real estate, along with the provision of data and information about Downtown. The Economic Development work that we do is both directly related to and supportive of the Imagine Downtown master planning effort and future capital improvements.

Our goals are:

  • To create an environment conducive to economic investment
  • To expand Downtown's economy by marketing Downtown as a location for jobs and residents and as a destination for retail customers and tourists
  • To match investors with opportunities and resources

The Economic Development staff at CAP offers the following services:

  • Project assistance to the development community and other Downtown stakeholders
  • Assistance with finding available office or retail space, as well as available sites for new development opportunities
  • Provide demographic, business, economic and other information and data about Downtown
  • Assist with marketing Downtown as a business location, residential option and shopping and entertainment destination

Contact the Economic Development department.

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