Posted: 8:48 a.m. Monday, Dec. 31, 2012
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
An Underground Atlanta timeline:
1869: The Georgia Railroad Freight Depot built, and Alabama Street fills with traffic.
1910-1929: Concrete viaducts built over the train tracks to allow a better and safer flow of traffic, creating an underground section of the city. Many stores move to the second level, leaving the lower level for storage and the odd speakeasy.
1960s: The original first level is rediscovered and proposed as an entertainment district in the “city beneath the city.”
1969: Underground Atlanta opens, becoming an immediate hot spot for Atlanta nightlife. Popular bars include Dante’s Down the Hatch and The Blarney Stone.
1980: Underground is largely closed after years of decline and a crime wave.
1982: Mayor Andrew Young proposes to redevelop Underground.
1987: Rouse Co. begins a $142 million renovation that includes more than $80 million in city municipal bonds.
1989: Underground reopens, this time resembling a shopping mall more than an entertainment hub.
1990: Atlantans gather at Underground to celebrate the awarding of the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, and the new World of Coca-Cola helps draw in millions of new visitors.
1992: Rioters smash windows in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, and sales plummet.
1996: Underground Festival Inc., a private entity that operates the center, loses $6.5 million despite a boost from the Olympics.
1999: Atlanta hires a team led by O’Leary Partners to manage the district.
2004: City allows bars in the complex to serve drinks until 4 a.m. in an effort to boost traffic.
2007: World of Coca-Cola moves to Centennial Olympic Park, sapping foot traffic from center.
2012: City officials step up conversations over Underground’s future, developer Dan O’Leary vows to search for “big idea” to change Underground’s dynamic.