Atlanta (Template:IPAc-en, Template:IPAc-en, locally Template:IPAc-en) is the capital and most populous city in the US state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003.[1] The Atlanta metropolitan area, with 5,268,860 people,[2] is the third largest in the Southern United States and the ninth largest in the country. The Atlanta Combined Statistical Area, a larger trade area, has a population approaching six million and is the largest in the Southeast. Like many urban areas in the Sun Belt, the Atlanta region has seen increasing growth since the 1970s, and it added about 1.6 million residents between 2000 and 2010.

Atlanta is considered to be a top business city and is a primary transportation hub of the Southeastern United States—via highway, railroad, and air.[3][4] Metro Atlanta contains the world headquarters of corporations such as The Coca-Cola Company, The Home Depot, AT&T Mobility, UPS, Delta Air Lines, and Turner Broadcasting. Atlanta has the country's fourth-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 75 percent of Fortune 1000 companies have business operations in the metropolitan area, helping Atlanta realize a gross metropolitan product of US$270 billion, accounting for more than two-thirds of Georgia's economy. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the world's busiest airport since 1998.[5][6]

Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County and the location of the seat of government of the state of Georgia. A small portion of the city of Atlanta corporate limits extends eastwards into DeKalb County. Residents of Atlanta and its surroundings are known as "Atlantans".[7]

History of AtlantaEdit

Main article: History of Atlanta

Prior to the arrival of European Americans in north Georgia, Creek and Cherokee Indians inhabited the area.[8] A Creek village located where Peachtree Creek flows into the Chattahoochee River, Standing Peachtree or Standing Pitch Tree, was the closest Indian settlement to what is now Atlanta.[9] As part of the systematic removal of Native Americans from northern Georgia from 1802 to 1825,[10] the Creek ceded the area that is now Metro Atlanta in 1821.[11] White settlers arrived in 1822, and nearby Decatur was founded the following year.[12]

In 1836, the Georgia General Assembly voted to build the Western and Atlantic Railroad in order to provide a link between the port of Savannah and the Midwest.[13] The initial route was to run from Chattanooga to a spot called simply "Terminus," located east of the Chattahoochee River, which would eventually be linked to the Georgia Railroad from Augusta and the Macon and Western Railroad, which ran from Macon to Savannah. An engineer was chosen to recommend the location of the terminus. Once he surveyed various possible routes, he drove a stake (the “zero milepost”) into the ground in what is now Five Points. A year later, the area around the railroad terminus had developed into a settlement, first known as "Terminus" and then Thrasherville, for John Thrasher, a local merchant who built homes and a general store in the settlement.[14] By 1842, the settlement had six buildings and 30 residents and the town was renamed "Marthasville".[15] The Chief Engineer of the Georgia Railroad, J. Edgar Thomson, suggested renaming the area "Atlantica-Pacifica" to highlight the rail connection westwards, shortened to "Atlanta".[15] The residents approved, and the town was incorporated as Atlanta on December 29, 1847.[16] By 1854, another railroad connected Atlanta to LaGrange, and the town grew to 9,554 by 1860.[17][18]

During the Civil War, the nexus of multiple railroads in Atlanta made the city a hub for the distribution of military supplies. In 1864, following the capture of Chattanooga, the Union Army moved southward and began its invasion of north Georgia. The region now covered by Metropolitan Atlanta was the location of several major army battles, including Kennesaw Mountain, Peachtree Creek, Jonesborough (now Jonesboro), and the Battle of Atlanta. On September 1, 1864, following a four-month-long siege of the city by the Union Army under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman, Confederate General John Bell Hood made the decision to retreat from Atlanta. General Hood ordered that all public buildings and possible assets to the Union Army be destroyed. On the next day, Mayor James Calhoun surrendered Atlanta to the Union Army, and on September 7, General Sherman ordered the city's civilian population to evacuate. On November 11, 1864, in preparation of the Union Army's march to Savannah, Sherman ordered for Atlanta to be burned to the ground, sparing only the city's churches and hospitals.[19] After the Civil War ended in 1865, Atlanta was gradually rebuilt. From 1867 until 1888, U.S. Army soldiers occupied the McPherson Barracks in southern Atlanta to ensure that the Reconstruction era reforms were carried out.

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In 1868, the Georgia State Capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta due to the city's superior rail transportation network, making Atlanta the fifth location of the capital of the State of Georgia.[20] The Confederate Soldiers' Home was built to house disabled and elderly Georgia veterans from 1901 to 1941.[21] Henry W. Grady, the editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, promoted Atlanta to potential investors as a city of the "New South", one to be built on a modern economy, less reliant on agriculture. As a focal point of this change, the Georgia Institute of Technology (its future name) was established in Atlanta in 1885 (with its first classes held in October 1888).

Increased racial tensions, the result of a media-fueled hysteria over alleged sexual assaults on white women by black men, led to the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906, which left at least 27 people dead[22] and over 70 injured.


On May 21, 1917, the Great Atlanta Fire destroyed 1,938 buildings, mostly wooden, in what is now the Old Fourth Ward. The fire resulted in 10,000 people becoming homeless. Only one person died, a woman who died of a heart attack at seeing her home in ashes.

On December 15, 1939, Atlanta hosted the film premiere of Gone with the Wind, the epic film based on the best-selling novel by Atlanta's Margaret Mitchell. Several stars of the film, including Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, and its legendary producer, David O. Selznick, attended the gala event, which was held at Loew's Grand Theatre, now demolished.[23] The reception was held at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, which still exists.

During World War II, manufacturing industries such as the Bell Aircraft Company's large factory in the northwestern suburb of Marietta, a massive growth in railroad traffic—and the manufacture of railroad cars—for the war effort, and great growth at Ft. McPherson, Fort Gillem (est. 1941), and Rickenbacker Field forced a large growth in the population and economy of Atlanta. Shortly after the war, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was founded in Atlanta.[24]

In the 1950s, the city's newly-constructed freeway system enabled middle class Atlantans to relocate from the city to the suburbs. As a result, the city began to make up an ever smaller proportion of the metropolitan area's population, decreasing from 31% in 1960 to 9% in 2000.[25]

During the 1960s, Atlanta was a major organizing center of the Civil Rights Movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and students from Atlanta's historically Black colleges and universities playing major roles in the movement's leadership. In 1961, Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. became one of the few Southern white mayors to support desegregation of his city's public schools.[26] While minimal compared to other cities, Atlanta was not completely free of racial strife. After forced-housing patterns were outlawed, violence, intimidation and organized political pressure was used in some white neighborhoods to discourage blacks from buying homes there. However, such efforts proved futile as real estate agents began engaging in blockbusting, encouraging white homeowners to sell at rock-bottom prices so that the agents could re-sell the homes to blacks at a large profit. The resulting white flight mostly affected Atlanta's western and southern neighborhoods, many of them transitioning to majority black by the 1970s.[27] In 1961, the city attempted to thwart blockbusting by erecting road barriers in Cascade Heights, countering the efforts of civic and business leaders to foster Atlanta as the "city too busy to hate."[27][28]

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African Americans became a majority in the city by 1970, and exercised new-found political influence by electing Atlanta's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, in 1973. However, suburbanization, rising prices, a booming economy, and new migrants have decreased the black percentage of the city from a high of 69% in 1980 to 54% in 2010.[29] From 2000 to 2010, Atlanta gained 22,763 white residents, while it lost 28,795 black residents.[30]

In 1990, Atlanta was selected as the site for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Following the announcement, Atlanta undertook several major construction projects to improve the city's parks, sports facilities, and transportation. Atlanta became the third American city to host the Summer Olympics. The games themselves were marred by numerous organizational inefficiencies, as well as the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.[31]

During the 2000s, Atlanta completed its transformation into a cosmopolitan city, becoming well known for its robust cultural offerings. Much of the city's change in the last decade was been driven by young, college-educated professionals who have moved into Atlanta by the thousands, seeking a lifestyle rich in cultural variety, diversity, and excitement. From 2000 to 2009, the tree-mile radius surrounding Downtown Atlanta gained 9,722 residents aged 25 to 34 holding at least a four-year degree, an increase of 61% and the sixth-largest such increase in the nation.[32] In fact, Atlanta is on the leading edge of a national trend: while the same growth has occurred in dozens of other American cities, the change was twice as strong in Atlanta as it was nationwide.[33] As the city's new residents transformed communities long in decline into neighborhoods of choice, Atlanta's cultural offerings expanded to meet their increased demand. A total of 45 restaurants have opened Downtown since 2008. The High Museum of Art doubled in size and launched partnerships with major institutions such as the Louvre and New York's Museum of Modern Art. In 2007, the Alliance Theatre won a Tony Award, placing it among the nation's leading performing arts venues. The once-industrial Westside is now home to warehouse lofts, start-up companies, and buzzed-about restaurants.[34]


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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of Template:Convert. Template:Convert of it is land and Template:Convert of it is water. The total area is 0.54% water. At about Template:Convert above mean sea level, Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River.

The Eastern Continental Divide line enters Atlanta from the south, proceeding to the downtown area. From downtown, the divide line runs eastward along DeKalb Avenue and the CSX rail lines through Decatur.[35] Rainwater that falls on the south and east side runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean, while rainwater on the north and west side of the divide runs into the Gulf of Mexico[35] via the Chattahoochee River. That river is part of the ACF River Basin, and from which Atlanta and many of its neighbors draw most of their water. Being at the far northwestern edge of the city, much of the river's natural habitat is still preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Downstream however, excessive water use during droughts and pollution during floods has been a source of contention and legal battles with neighboring states Alabama and Florida.[36][37]


Atlanta has a humid subtropical climate, (Cfa) according to the Köppen classification, with hot, humid summers and mild winters that are occasionally cold by the standards of the southern United States. January averages Template:Convert, with temperatures in the suburbs slightly cooler. Warm, maritime air can bring springlike highs while strong Arctic air masses can push lows into the teens (−11 to −7 °C). High temperatures in July average Template:Convert but occasionally exceed Template:Convert. Atlanta's high mean elevation distinguishes it from most other southern and eastern cities, and contributes to a more temperate climate than is found in areas farther south.[38]

Typical of the southeastern U.S., Atlanta receives abundant rainfall, which is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, though spring and early fall are markedly drier. Average annual rainfall is Template:Convert. Temperatures at or above Template:Convert occur more than 40 days per year; overnight freezing can be expected over 45 days, but high temperatures that do not climb above the freezing mark are rare.[39] Snow is not seen every year and averages Template:Convert annually. The heaviest single storm brought around Template:Convert on January 23, 1940.[40] True blizzards are rare but possible; one hit in March 1993. Ice storms usually cause more trouble than does snowfall; the most severe such storm may have occurred on January 7, 1973.[41] In 2010, Atlanta had its first white Christmas since 1882.

Extremes range from Template:Convert in February 1899 to Template:Convert in July 1980.[42] More recently, a low one degree away from the record, was observed on January 21, 1985.[42] Template:- Template:Atlanta weatherbox

In 2007, the American Lung Association ranked Atlanta as having the 13th highest level of particle pollution in the United States.[43] The combination of pollution and pollen levels, and uninsured citizens caused the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to name Atlanta as the worst American city for asthma sufferers to live in.[44]

However, the city was recently commended by bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency for its eco-friendly policies.[45] In 2009, Atlanta's Virginia-Highland became the first carbon-neutral zone in the United States. Verus Carbon Neutral developed the partnership that links 17 merchants of the historic Corner Virginia-Highland shopping and dining neighborhood retail district, through the Chicago Climate Exchange, to directly fund the Valley Wood Carbon Sequestration Project (thousands of acres of forest in rural Georgia).[46][47]

On March 14, 2008, an EF2 tornado hit downtown Atlanta with winds up to Template:Convert. The tornado caused damage to Philips Arena, the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, the Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center, and the Georgia World Congress Center. It also damaged the nearby neighborhoods of Vine City to the west and Cabbagetown, and Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills to the east. While there were dozens of injuries, only one fatality was reported.[48] City officials warned it could take months to clear the devastation left by the tornado.[49]

Tree canopyEdit


Atlanta has a reputation as a "city in a forest" or a "city of trees" due to its abundance of trees, unique among major cities.[50][51][52][53] The city's main street is named after a tree, and beyond the Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead business districts, the skyline gives way to a dense canopy of woods that spreads into the suburbs. The nickname is factually accurate, as the city's tree coverage percentage is at 36%, the highest out of all major American cities, and above the national average of 27%.[54] Atlanta's tree coverage does not go unnoticed—it was the main reason cited by National Geographic in naming Atlanta a "Place of a Lifetime":[55]

"For a sprawling city with the nation’s ninth-largest metro area, Atlanta is surprisingly lush with trees—magnolias, dogwoods, Southern pines, and magnificent oaks."[56]

The city's lush tree canopy, which filters out pollutants and cools sidewalks and buildings, has increasingly been under assault from man and nature due to heavy rains, drought, aged forests, new pests, and urban construction. A 2001 study found that Atlanta's heavy tree cover declined from 48% in 1974 to 38% in 1996. This loss of tree canopy resulted in a 33% increase in stormwater runoff and a loss of 11 million pounds of pollutants removed annually, a value of approximately $28 million per year.[57] Due to a historic drought in the late 2000s, Atlanta lost trees at an unprecedented rate. For example, Piedmont Park lost about a dozen large, historic trees in 2009, compared to two or three during normal years. Although many of Atlanta's trees are between 80–100 years old and thus reaching the end of their normal lifespan, the drought accelerated their demise by shrinking the trees' roots. Fortunately, the problem is being addressed by community organizations and city government.[50] Trees Atlanta, a non-profit organization founded in 1985, has planted and distributed over 75,000 shade trees.[58] Atlanta's city government awarded $130,000 in grants to neighborhood groups to plant trees.[50]

Being a city of trees encourages outdoor activity, and thanks to a perpetually mild climate, nature is a constant guest in Atlanta. The city is home to the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, an annual arts and crafts festival held one weekend during early April, when the native dogwoods are in bloom. Downtown's Centennial Olympic Park is the start and finish of the Georgia Marathon, which courses through central Atlanta and Decatur suburbs, business sections and major schools of higher learning like Georgia State University, Agnes Scott College, Emory University and Georgia Tech.

Parks, gardens, and trailsEdit

File:Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA, USA field.jpg

Ever-popular Piedmont Park and the quieter Grant Park call to athletes and loungers throughout the week.[53] The Atlanta Botanical Garden is home to the Canopy Walk, a 600-foot elevated walkway ambling 40 feet from the ground through a 15-acre forest of mature hardwoods, and the only canopy-level pathway of its kind in the United States.

The BeltLine is a former rail corridor that forms a 22-mile loop around Atlanta's central neighborhoods and has been acquired as public space. Most of the corridor is already open as a rough walking path, and it is to be developed into trails with the eventual addition of transit. A trail is already built near the West End neighborhood and one is underway from Piedmont Park near Midtown, south to Inman Park. BeltLine projects will increase Atlanta's park space by 40%,[59] including two new parks: Historic Fourth Ward Park, now open, and Westside Park.

PATH maintains a network of biking and walking trails in Metro Atlanta including one that passes along the Carter Center and through Freedom Park.


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Main article: Architecture of Atlanta

Atlanta's skyline is punctuated with highrise and midrise buildings of modern and postmodern vintage. Its tallest landmark—the Bank of America Plaza—is the 52nd-tallest building in the world at Template:Convert.[60] It is also the tallest building in the United States outside of Chicago and New York City and the tallest building in any U.S. state capital.

Unlike many other Southern cities such as Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, and New Orleans, Atlanta chose not to retain its historic Old South architectural characteristics. Instead, Atlanta viewed itself as the leading city of a progressive "New South" and opted for expressive modern structures.[61] Atlanta's skyline includes works by most major U.S. firms and some of the more prominent architects of the 20th century, including Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Marcel Breuer, Renzo Piano, Pickard Chilton, and locally based internationally known Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam Architects.

Atlanta's most notable hometown architect may be John Portman whose creation of the atrium hotel beginning with the Hyatt Regency Atlanta—one of the tallest buildings in Atlanta at the time of its completion in 1967[62]—made a significant mark on hospitality architecture. Through his work, Portman—a graduate of Georgia Tech's College of Architecture—reshaped downtown Atlanta with his designs for the Atlanta Merchandise Mart, Peachtree Center, the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, and SunTrust Plaza.


Main article: Neighborhoods of Atlanta
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Atlanta fell victim to the urban flight that affected other major American cities in the 20th century, causing the decline of well-to-do east side neighborhoods such as Inman Park and Candler Park, typified by their craftsman bungalows and Victorian mansions. In the 1970s, after neighborhood opposition blocked two freeways from being built through the east side, the area became the starting point for Atlanta's gentrification wave. By the early 1990s, the neighborhoods had transformed into shining examples of renewal, and are now considered hip, urban neighborhoods, appealing to young residents who wish to be in close proximity to entertainment, shopping and transportation options.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, gentrification expanded into other parts of Atlanta, spreading into the historic streetcar suburb's east of Downtown and Midtown, such as the Old Fourth Ward, Kirkwood, Cabbagetown, and the neighborhoods along the BeltLine. Older homes were renovated, new houses were constructed, and once-forgotten leafy, urban villages were rehabilitated. On the western side of the city, condos, apartments, and retail space were built into former warehouses spaces, quickly transforming once-industrial West Midtown into a shining model of smart growth. While the infill growth has slowed somewhat during the Late-2000s recession, it still continues at a steady pace, expanding into areas such as Capitol View, Peoplestown, and Adair Park.

The city's highrises are clustered in the three business districts of Atlanta—Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead (there are also two major suburban business districts, Perimeter Center to the north and Cumberland to the northwest).[63] Downtown contains the most office space in the metro area and is home to many government offices. Notable skyscrapers include the 191 Peachtree Tower, Westin Peachtree Plaza, SunTrust Plaza, Georgia-Pacific Tower, and the buildings of Peachtree Center.

Midtown Atlanta, located north of Downtown, developed rapidly after the completion of One Atlantic Center in 1987. In addition to being a major employment center for the metro area, Midtown contains the offices of many of the region's law firms.[64] In 2006, former Mayor Franklin set in motion a plan to make the 14-block stretch of Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta (nicknamed "Midtown Mile") a street-level luxury shopping destination to rival Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive or Chicago's Magnificent Mile,[65][66] but in 2011 these plans were rolled back to more modest levels.[67]

Buckhead, the city's uptown district, is eight miles (13 km) north of Downtown. Beginning as a wealthy suburban community with the construction of Lenox Square mall in the 1950s, the area has since developed into a major employment, commercial, and financial center. Immediately surrounding Buckhead's skyscrapers are wealthy neighborhoods of single-family homes.

Southwestern Atlanta contains a number of suburbs popular with African-Americans, such as Collier Heights, Cascade Heights and Peyton Forest.[68]

Atlanta was in the midst of a construction and retail boom prior to the late-2000s recession, with over 60 new highrise or midrise buildings either proposed or under construction in 2006.[69] As in many cities, new development slowed drastically with the beginning of the Recession.


Main article: Culture of Atlanta
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Atlanta, while very much in the South, has a culture that is no longer strictly Southern. This is due to the fact that in addition to a large population of migrants from other parts of the U.S., nearly three-quarters of a million foreign-born people make Atlanta their home, accounting for 13 percent of the city's population and making Atlanta one of the most multi-cultural cities in the nation.[70] A random Atlantan is more likely to have been born in Bangalore, Seoul, or Indianapolis than in Atlanta. Thus, although traditional Southern culture is part of Atlanta's cultural fabric, it's mostly the backdrop to one of the nation's leading international cities. This unique cultural combination reveals itself at the High Museum of Art, the bohemian shops of Little Five Points, and the multi-cultural dining choices found along Buford Highway.[71]

Entertainment and performing artsEdit

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The classical music scene in the metropolitan Atlanta area includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Gwinnett Ballet Theatre, Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, New Trinity Baroque, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Georgia Boy Choir and the Atlanta Boy Choir. Classical musicians have included renowned conductors Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony's Robert Spano.

The Fox Theatre is an historic landmark and one of the highest grossing venues in the world. The city also has a large collection of highly successful music venues of various sizes that host top and emerging touring acts. Popular local venues include the Tabernacle, the Variety Playhouse, The Masquerade, The Star Community Bar and the EARL.

The city contains a flourishing theater community. Major Theater groups include the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theater (part of the Woodruff Arts Center), the internationally-known Center for Puppetry Arts, Theatrical Outfit, Seven Stages Theater, The Horizon Theater Company, improv group Dad's Garage, Actor's Express, and the Shakespeare Tavern.

Atlanta is also a major hub for the marching arts. The city is home of Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps, who competes in Drum Corps International, and both Alliance Drum and Bugle Corps and the CorpsVets Drum and Bugle Corps, both of which participate in the Drum Corps Associates circuit.

Atlanta is the home of recording studios/companies So So Def Recordings, Grand Hustle Records, BME Recordings, Block Entertainment, Konvict Muzik, and 1017 Brick Squad.

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