This will take a while!
There's a great, smoke-free billiards hall just across from SunTrust Plaza, Barley's at 338 Peachtree St (404-522-2522). Real nice spot
Most of downtown is accessable by Marta and I've put together a list of things within a quick walk of the subway stations.
Here's an aerial photograph from 1993 and Here's one from 1949 (courtesy GSU)
And here's a guide to downtown's historic buildings.
If you've had to drive around downtown, you may have noticed that none of the streets are straight, here's description of why from Franklin Garrett's Atlanta and Environs
The answer to the oft repeated question as to why downtown Atlanta streets run in any direction but the four cardinal points of the compass can be found in the Arms survey of 1842, and the subsequent Pryor survey of the remainder of Land Lot 77 in 1846.For some reason it's only confusing when you're driving. Walking around it all seems to make sense. Go figure!
Samuel Mitchell employed F.C.Arms to survey the five-acre State Square and stake off seventeen town lots contiguous thereto. A right of way one hundred feet wide was laid out from the line between Lots 77 and 78 at the present Forsyth Street bridge through Lot 77 to the State Square. The Square itself was considerably more of a rectangle, having a width of 270 feet on each side and of the center line and being 370 feet in length. Neither was the "Square" square with the world. Its long axis ran northeast and southwest. Its short axis was a prolongation of the center line of the right-of-way in Land Lot 78, which lay in a northwest and southeast direction.
When Arms staked the State Square, the present boundaries of which are Decatur Street on the northwest; Alabama Street, southwest; Pryor Street, northeast, and Central Avenue, southeast, the north line and south line were drawn parallel to the railroad right of way. He then platted streets on these four sides and ran them parallel with the Square.
It all goes back, more or less, to the basic fact that the railroad, when build, closely paralleled the wagon road to Marietta and Montgomery's Ferry. This road, now Marietta Street, runs northwest and southeast before reaching Peachtree Street. The direction of such streets as Forsyth, Broad, Walton, Fairlie, Cone and Luckie in Land Lot 78, are due to the same cause -- Marietta Street and the railroad which parallels it. Arms did not create Decatur Street. It was already there as the Decatur wagon and stage road. He merely diverted it somewhat to conform to the northeast boundary line of the Square.
Arms' town lot survey was confined primarily to that portion of Lot 77 lying on the northeast side of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, extending to the southwest only so far as to define Alabama Street, bounding the Square on that side. Lots and streets southwest of the Square were surveyed by Allen W. Pryor, a resident of Pike County and friend of Samuel Mitchell. One of the principal streets through this survey bears his name. Pryor Street was divided by the railroad tracks and the Macon & Western depot until after the War Between the States.
The second oldest landmark in Atlanta, the Monroe embankment being the oldest, is the zero milepost of the W. & A. Railroad. It stands today under the Central Avenue viaduct protected by a cribbing of heavy timbers [2001, it now stands under the viaduct in the old Stone Mountain train depot which is now used as a police station]. This ancient stone is lettered: "W & A RR, Mile Post 0". Bodwell E. Wells, who placed the post, testified: "I began locating mile posts sometime in the fall of 1850. I ascertained the initial point by measuring and obtaining the center of the south line of the State Square, which aws the north line of Loyd Street (Central Avenue), and using a map...made by F.C.Arms". These quaint old mileposts can be seen today along the line of the N.C. & St. L. between Atlanta and Chattanooga [2001, are any of these still around?].
North of this mess, between the major hotels and the block with Max Lager's Bre pub and Barley's Billiards, is Hardy Ivy Park a nice pocket park with parts of the gorgeous Carnegie Library that used to grace downtown. Also in the park you'll find a stutue of Samuel Spencer, the first president of the Southern Railroad.