Map: Downtown, Atlanta

Start this tour at (1) Underground Atlanta (50 Upper Alabama Street SW; www.underground-atlanta.com), the historical center of Atlanta and now a shopping and entertainment zone. While often on a list of “most overrated” attractions, this underground maze has historical significance as the railroad terminus in the 1800s. Later paved over, the 12-acre (4.85-hectare) site was uncovered again by developers in 1969. Always pulsing with energy, the Underground has become something of a tourist trap—but it does offer some great people watching.

Walk out onto Alabama Street and go west a block to (2) Peachtree Street, the city’s main north-south corridor. In 2007 Mayor Shirley Franklin vowed to begin a $1 billion, 20-year upgrade of the street’s buildings and parks, along with adding a streetcar to chug up and down the artery.

Head north on Peachtree and you’ll get to the four-acre (1.6-hectare) (3) Woodruff Park, a popular lunchtime hangout. In the center, look for the bronze sculpture of “Phoenix Rising from the Ashes”—an apt symbol of Atlanta after the city was torched by William T. Sherman during the Civil War.

Continue north to the (4) Flatiron Building (84 Peachtree Street), on the west side of Peachtree. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the “English-American Building,” this 1897 building, recognizable by its triangular shape, is Atlanta's oldest standing skyscraper. Across the street, the 17-story (5) Candler Building (127 Peachtree Street), was built by Asa G. Candler, Coca-Cola founder and former mayor.

From the Flatiron Building, take a left onto Forsyth Street, which will put you in the heart of the Fairlie-Poplar Historic District—a 28-block turn-of-the-century business district full of historically significant buildings. The area is roughly bounded by Peachtree, Luckie, Cone, and Marietta Streets.

Walk past the Rialto Theater and on the left is the (6) Healey Building (57 Forsyth Street NW, a Gothic-Revival “skyscraper” built in 1913. Today, the building houses upscale condos. On the corner of Walton and Broad, the 1898 (7) Grant Building (44 Broad Street) consumes an entire block (and was the first office building to do so).

Spend the rest of the tour meandering around the Fairlie-Poplar area, noting the different architectural styles, from Renaissance Revival and neo-classical to Victorian and art deco.

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