The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site is located in downtown Atlanta, not far from Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King grew up listening to his father preach. The historic neighborhood is known as "Sweet Auburn,'' one of the first commercial and residential districts established by African-Americans in Atlanta after Reconstruction. The site is just minutes east of the heart of downtown Atlanta and is accessible from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector via Freedom Parkway. The Sweet Auburn Historic District is a National Historic Landmark, and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 35-acre site includes historic buildings like the Auburn Avenue birth home of Dr. King, Fire Station No. 6 and Ebenezer Baptist Church. The birth home, a late-Victorian-era two-story home, was built in 1895 and, from 1909 until the early 1960s, housed several generations of the King family. The house is open for ranger-guided tours, and reservations are required. Fire Station No. 6, Atlanta's oldest standing fire station and the first in the city to be integrated, contains a gift shop and an exhibit on the history of the desegregation of the Atlanta Fire Department. Ebenezer Baptist Church is the neighborhood church where King's maternal grandfather and father served as pastor. After 1960, Dr. King served as co-pastor of the church with his father. King's funeral was held here in 1968.
The site also includes a National Park Service interpretive center, Dr. King's tomb, and the King Center. The interpretive center offers permanent and changing exhibits about Dr. King and his legacy as well as information about experiencing the rest of the site. Dr. King's tomb includes a memorial and a reflecting pool. In 2006, Coretta Scott King's remains were interred alongside her husband's. The King Center, formally named the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is a privately owned organization that is located within the boundaries of the National Historic Site. The King Center, founded in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, not only memorializes Dr. King's work, but explores his ongoing legacy in today's world. The center contains a research center through which scholars may study Dr. King's papers and speeches.
The National Historic Site also contains a Peace Plaza, with an International World Peace Rose Garden; the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, with the names of influential contributors to the Civil Rights movement both historic and present-day; a statue of Gandhi, who was one of Dr. King's primary inspirations; and historic homes, churches and other buildings in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.
The site receives over 600,000 visitors a year from around the world. It also hosts the events every year that anchor the King Holiday in January. Ebenezer Baptist Church is currently undergoing a renovation, to be completed in late 2009, that will add more historic value to the site. The church's sanctuary is being restored to its look from the 1960s, when it was the center of meetings, sermons and planning sessions for some of the Civil Rights movement's most important activists. (The active congregation has moved to a newer, larger building nearby.) The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site continues to be one of Atlanta's most treasured and revered monuments.