Atlanta City View from Peachtree Plaza

Monday, July 16, 2012

We made a trip in to Georgia State University for a brief tour, then a walk through Underground Atlanta, and then went to the Sundial Room on the 72nd floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel for lunch. It is a great place for a view of Atlanta.

Suzanne, Mary and Brenda on the 72nd floor with a view northward from the hotel. The setting was to put the Varsity between them. We had eaten at the Varsity on the previous evening.

From this vantage point we could see the Coke museum and the Georgia Aquarium which we had visited on Friday.

This view to the north NE shows the Georgia Tech campus with its Grant Field Stadium at the center. Below and to the right of the stadium is the Olympic Village constructed for the 1996 Olympics, which was shared as dormitories by Georgia Tech and Georgia State University after the Olympics. With Georgia State's construction of new dormitories, Olympic Village is now fully occupied by Georgia Tech as dormitories. Much nicer than the dorms I stayed in just above Olympic Village when I entered Tech in 1957. The famous Tech tower is rather muted in the trees to the left of the stadium. The Varsity shows just across the expressway from Olympic Village at mid right in the photo. The row of five tall buildings near the top of the photo is the new shopping, office and residential area built on the site of the former Atlantic Steel complex. It is called Atlantic Station. The collection of satellite antennae in front of Atlantic Station is the Turner Broadcasting center.

We got these views of Atlanta while having a nice lunch at the Sundial Room, the revolving restaurant on the 72nd floor of the Peachtree Plaza Hotel. It makes a complete revolution in an hour, so with a leisurely lunch like we had, you get to see the full circle of downtown Atlanta. We reminded Suzanne and Mary not to sit a purse or anything on the outside ledge by our table, because it rotates away from you.

This picture is centered on the tall Bank of America Plaza (1023 ft) with the pointed top. The tall building in the foreground is the Suntrust Plaza (871 ft). These are the two tallest buildings in Atlanta and the Bank of America Plaza is the 9th tallest building in the country as of this writing. At this time 18 of the 20 tallest buildings in Georgia are in downtown Atlanta. The other two are the King and Queen towers in Sandy Springs, so the 20 tallest are all in the Atlanta metro area. This picture starts on the left with Olympic Village and the edge of the Georgia Tech campus and sweeps across the I-75/I-85 expressways.

We pointed out the blue dome of the Hyatt Regency Hotel to Suzanne and Mary, telling them that we had a celebration in the restaurant in that blue dome just before we left for Wales in 1966. At that time it was the tallest building in Atlanta, and now it is dwarfed by almost everything around it. Behind it you are seeing the base of the Suntrust Plaza, shown in the photo above it. The group of similar buildings around it constitute Peachtree Center, designed by architect John Portman. There is a Peachtree Center MARTA rapid rail station which serves this business and shopping center.

Swinging on around to the east, we come to the part of Atlanta most familiar to Brenda. She spent most of her working life at the cluster of buildings in the top left which is currently Atlanta Medical Center. Brenda attended the Georgia Baptist Hospital School of Nursing there (1959-1962) and worked for Georgia Baptist Hospital. She continued her nursing employment there when it was purchased by Tenet Corporation and became Atlanta Medical Center, retiring in 2010. To the right of the hospital complex is Freedom Parkway, which Brenda traveled to go to work after it was built.

Expanding the view, you can look straight above the Atlanta Medical Center complex past the tall antenna to Stone Mountain, 15 miles to the east of downtown. The skyscraper to the right is the 191 Peachtree Tower, at 50 stories and 771 feet the 4th tallest building in Atlanta currently.

Zooming in with Atlanta Medical Center at the bottom of the frame, we could see Stone Mountain from the Peachtree Plaza Hotel, the very place where Mary stood yesterday.

Swinging on around to the southeast, we come to the part of Atlanta most familiar to Rod. The main buildings of Georgia State University are in the center of this photo, although some are hidden by the closer high-rise buildings. On the left is the Georgia Pacific Tower at 52 stories and 697 feet. Just to the right of it in the center of the photo are the brown turrets of the Urban Life Building of GSU, and to the immediate right of it is the blue-gray glass building which is GSU's newest laboratory building, the Petit Building. Next to it with the GSU symbol on top is the gymnasium. In front of the gym is the Hurt Building, a fine old Atlanta building started in 1913 but worked on until 1926. At 17 stories it was one of Atlanta's first "skyscrapers".The rectangular white building to its right and to the left of the black Equitable Building is the old Suntrust building which GSU has just purchased. In front of the Suntrust (GSU) building in the bottom center of the photograph is the Candler Building with two wings paralleling two angled streets. When constructed in 1906 by Coca-Cola magnate Asa Griggs Candler it was the tallest building in the city. Rod has been on the GSU faculty since 1968, so he has seen most of these buildings being built.

Mary was interested in Turner Field, both from the baseball and olympic connections. I had tried to show it to her from the street Friday night but got all balled up in the residential streets in the stadium area. But we could certainly show it to her from here, with a nice view of the Georgia State Capitol building thrown in. Around the Capitol are the Georgia government buildings with the old City Hall of Atlanta on the right. The Georgia archives building is the rectangular marble building on the left beyond the Capitol. You can see the olympic rings above the street near the hotel behind the archive building. Turner Field was the major track and field location for the 1996 Olympics. At the bottom of the picture are two historic Atlanta churches, Central Presbyterian just across from the Capitol and the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to the right of it. These two churches are both historic and current. The Central Presbyterian Church has operated health clinics for many years. Brenda did volunteer work there as a student nurse about 1960 under the direction of the famous Dr. Leila Denmark who practiced medicine until she was about 105. Brenda had been taken to Dr. Denmark as a young child. The Catholic church currently provides food for many homeless persons. The pointed buildings at the very bottom housed the original Coke museum before it moved over by the Aquarium.

Swinging on around to the SSW there is a view of Turner Field with the South Expressway, I-75/I-85, to the right of it. The gray square tower (former Bank of Georgia Bldg) and the taller black tower (former First National Bank Bldg) in the center are both part of Georgia State University. The brown building around the base of the gray tower is also a GSU building now and was the C&S Bank Building. One of my first visits to Mark on a movie set was on top of that 15 story brown building where I went to the top and found Mark up on a steel sign frame on top of the building overlooking the street far below. He was doing something for the bank robber movie "The Real McCoy" with Kim Bassinger and Val Kilmer. It also made use of the bank vault in that old C&S Bank. One of Mark's memories from that movie was playing ping-pong with Val Kilmer on the set. Toward the right of the picture you can see the MARTA rail line crossing the I-20 expressway. That rapid rail line was tunneled deep under the central part of Atlanta down in the granite rock under the city. It comes out of the ground at the point where you see it south of the center of the city.

Moving on around to nearly westward brings us to the CNN Center and the Omni International Hotel with Centennial Olympic Park out in front of them. Behind them is the Georgia Dome.

One reason for our interest in the Omni Hotel was that this was where Mark delivered the Pirate Ship that he built for a convention there. He had to deliver it in four pieces to the fourth floor ballroom and assemble it there.

Getting to Centennial Olympic Park brings us full circle on our visual tour of downtown Atlanta from the Sundial Room.

Atlanta Zoo

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