Abandoned Architecture: Atlanta Underground’s Lack of Visitation

When I mentioned to friends that I was going to Underground Atlanta, the response that I got from every one of my friends was the same: don’t go alone. Don’t go alone, don’t go after dark, and call if you need anything.

This was my first Underground experience, so I didn’t understand why they were all so concerned until I got to the space.

Underground Atlanta is not very well lit. There are nooks and crannies in the walls large enough to hide a person, the cell service inside is abysmal at best, and the understaffed stores and kiosks show an absolute disregard for the small handful of people wandering the mall.

In my hour and a half there, I passed a total of 15 people inside the mall. Outside, however, was another story. Recently an Atlanta music venue called The Masquerade relocated to Underground, and its doors are located outside past the end of the shopping strip.

The day that I went, there was a concert at the venue for someone named Jacob Sartorious, who I later looked up and found was a young teen pop star. This explained the demographic of the people outside of the venue, and why it was so different from the inside demographic.

The people lined up at the venue were mainly white middle aged parents and large groups of mid-aged teenage girls. In direct contrast, most of the people inside of the mall were individuals or very small groups, at max three people, of people of color.

Dark Depths: A Description of Underground Atlanta

Underground Atlanta is an underground mall near GSU’s Atlanta campus. At it’s opening, it was a major tourist attraction and many visited when they came to the city. Today, due to a lack of funding and loss of public interest, the space is often deserted.

Underground Atlanta is not easily visible from street level. To enter, one must go down an escalator or flights of steps. Once downstairs, the mall stretches for about two blocks. The main shape of the mall is one long hallway with shops lining the walls and kiosks lining the sides of the walkway.

The hallway is wider than one within a typical building, and acts more as a roadway for pedestrians. The ground is made of cobblestones, and the side of the path have sidewalks that separate the main walking space from the stores.

In small offshoots, there are rectangular slabs of marble that act as benches. Next to each of these is a metal plaque on a stand. These metal plaques contain historical facts about the space, its architects, and Atlanta in general. These offshoots are evenly spaced throughout all of Underground Atlanta.

Underground Atlanta has a noise that persists constantly. Upon listening, I was not able to place what the sound was. Below is a clip of the sound.