Cover Story: In 1990, Marriott opened an eight-story Courtyard hotel at 1132 Techwood Drive

“In 1990, Marriott opened an eight-story Courtyard hotel at 1132 Techwood Drive. The building was constructed on one of the high hills from which Sherman’s troops had shelled Atlanta in the summer of 1864. Due to the gradient of the terrain, Marriott’s parking lot was split between two terraces; the lower level was built directly over the Orme Street trunk sewer. On June 10, 1993, hotel workers noticed that a manhole located in the lower parking lot seemed to be sinking. The city, after investigating, cordoned off a 400-square-foot area and put it under 24-hour surveillance.

“Four days later, beginning around 5:00 a.m., Atlanta was deluged by a perfect storm. Within a 40-minute period, the downtown area received 3.6 inches of rain accompanied by more than 400 lightning strikes. Water blocked several downtown streets and flooded homes. The immense downpour was too much for the 80-year-old storm sewer to bear. A length of the sewer pipe failed under the hotel’s lower-level lot, creating a sinkhole measuring 50 feet deep by 200 feet wide. The upper tier of the lot collapsed onto the lower, and then both levels were sucked into the vortex. In seconds, two Marriott workers, Victoria Vaynshteyn and Oscar Cano, were siphoned into the sewer like ants down a bathtub drain. The hapless victims likely never knew what hit them.”

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