Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta


I would much rather hike a trail through the woods than walk through a concrete jungle.  Even so, downtown Atlanta offered enough to keep me interested for the better part of a day.  I decided to start my exploration at Centennial Olympic Park, then start walking.

A big chunk of Atlanta was renovated for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.  The central attraction was Centennial Olympic Park, with its Olympic-ring-shaped play fountain.

The Fountain of Rings pumps 5,000 gallons of water every minute, enough to fill an average-sized swimming pool in just five minutes.  All of the water is filtered every 30 minutes.  And the 251 jets of water aren’t just for playing in — they are computer-controlled, and can put on a show, with the spray reaching 30 feet in the air.  Shows take place four times daily, at 12:30, 3:30, 6:30, and 9 p.m.

Statues are scattered around the park, including this one, which honors Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.

Sadly, Centennial Olympic Park was the scene of a terror attack during the Olympic Games.  Eric Robert Rudolph set off an explosive device in the middle of a crowd, which had gathered for a concert.  111 people were injured, and two died.  Security guard Richard Jewell discovered the bomb and helped clear the area before it detonated, but was later falsely implicated as the bomber.  Rudolph wasn’t caught until after two more bombings in the Atlanta area, and one in Birmingham.

Some of Atlanta’s biggest buildings surround Centennial Olympic Park, like the Westin Peachtree Plaza (the cylinder-shaped 73-story skyscraper on the left) and 191 Peachtree Tower (on the right, 50 stories, completed in 1990).

The Omni Hotel is also nearby.  It’s part of…

… the world headquarters for CNN.  Ted Turner’s Cable News Network and Headline News broadcast from here, and you can take a behind-the-scenes tour.

The CNN Center has a record-setting escalator. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the escalator in the CNN Center’s Atrium as the longest freestanding escalator in the world. Years ago, I took the tour of the CNN studios, and if memory serves me correctly, I got to ride the escalator at the start of the tour.

As of 2013, the CNN Studio Tour costs $15 for an adult ticket, $14 for seniors and students, and $12 for children 4-12.  Check for current pricing and tour details here.

Yes, you’re in the land of Anderson Cooper!  It’s obvious that CNN is a major player in this town.

After exploring the Centennial Olympic Park area for a while, I decided it was time to do some walking, so I headed towards the center of town (literally): Five Points.

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