History of Atlanta
The first settlement in the area of present-day Atlanta was established in relation to the efforts to build the Western and Atlantic Railroad. It was decided that the terminus of the railroad would be located in what is now the district of Five Points in Atlanta. In 1836, the settlement was named Terminus and then renamed Thrasherville. In 1842, the town had 30 residents and it was called Marthasville. The town was renamed yet again, this time called Atlanta, and incorporated in 1847. The town population grew quickly and by the beginning of the Civil War it had more than 9,000 inhabitants. When the Civil War started, Atlanta was the distribution hub for military purposes. The Union Army began the invasion of northern Georgia in 1864. Atlanta and its surroundings saw many battles, the worst of which was the Battle of Atlanta, followed by a four-month siege of the city by the Union General Sherman. The Confederate troops started retreating from the city on September 1, 1864, destroying everything in the city that might represent an asset for the Union. On September 7, General Sherman ordered the evacuation of the people from the city and on November 11 Union troops burned Atlanta to the ground, destroying everything except for hospitals and churches.
The city started to rebuild immediately after the end of the war. One of the biggest advantages of Atlanta was always its superior railroad network, which is why the state capital moved there from Milledgeville in 1868.
The most significant growth of Atlanta took place in the first decades of the 20th century. The suburbs grew quickly and the cityscape was enriched with a number of new skyscrapers. However, this period was also marked by racial tensions (Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 and lynching of Leo Frank in 1915) and also by the devastating Great Atlanta Fire of 1917.
In the 1960s, Atlanta was one of the centers of the Civil Rights Movement. It was the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy, and the students of the historically black colleges also played the vital role in the efforts of the Movement. However, reaching civil liberties and abolishing segregation was a slow process and there were still some isolated acts of racism present in the city. By 1970, African Americans were a majority in Atlanta. The first black mayor of the city was elected in 1973 and his tenure was not only important for the black community but also for the entire city, as he modernized the city and consolidated its role of a major transportation center. The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were decisive for the city economy and infrastructure and marked a new period of changes that came in the 2000s. During the last decade, the city has changed in terms of demographics and economy. Due to an economy boom, suburbanization, gentrification and rising prices, as well as a new wave of immigrants, the black population in was reduced from 67% in 1994 to 54% in 2010.
Geography and Climate
Atlanta is situated on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and on a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River. It has a high elevation compared to other southeastern cities, meaning it has a more temperate climate. The summers in the city are long, hot and humid and the winters are cool. Atlanta gets plenty of rainfall throughout the year.
The city has 242 official neighborhoods. The major high-rise districts are Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead. These three business districts are surrounded by medium- and low-density neighborhoods. The east side is known for its streetcar suburbs, while the west side used to feature factories and warehouses now turned into retail space, galleries and housing. Northwest Atlanta is the poorest and with highest crime rates, while southwest Atlanta, with the historic West End, retains the suburban postwar structure.
Atlanta has the eighth-largest economy in the USA and the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, most notably Coca-Cola, UPS, The Home Depot and AT&T. The city is also a major media center, with headquarters of CNN, Turner Broadcasting System and The Weather Channel. Transportation and logistics remain one of the most important economy sectors in Atlanta, not only because of the railroad nexus it is famous for, but also because of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, the world’s busiest airport.
Atlanta is known for being one of the most multi-cultural cities in the USA. Still, despite the affluence of new immigrants and cultures, the typical Southern culture, as well as the African-American culture, remains very strong in the city.
Culture, Education and Sports
Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Alliance Theater are among the most important cultural institutions in the city. Some of the best museums include High Museum of Art, the Museum of Design Atlanta and Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. The city has always been a major music center, from the Southern rock expansion in 1970s to 1990s and Atlanta hip-hop. Today Atlanta has one of the most thriving indie music scenes in the country.
Tourism is also an important source of revenue for Atlanta and some of the major attractions include the famous Georgia Aquarium, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum and The World of Coca-Cola.
Some of the best colleges and universities in Atlanta are Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Emory University and Atlanta University Center.
As for the sports, Atlanta is home to the MLB’s Atlanta Braves, NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and NFL Atlanta Falcons.