Parks and Recreation
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
For Further Study
Founded: 1837; Incorporated: 1847
Location: Northwestern Georgia, United States, North America
Motto: "Wisdom, justice, and moderation" (state motto)
Flag: City seal in yellow on blue field.
Flower: Cherokee rose (state flower)
Time Zone: 7 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White 30%, Black 67.1%, Other 2.9%
Elevation: 320 m (1,050 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 33°74'N, 84°38'W
Climate: Moderate temperatures, with highly changeable weather patterns; natural barriers protect the city from very severe cold; snowfall is infrequent.
Annual Mean Temperature: 17.9°C (64.2°F); January 5.8°C (42.4°F); July 25.5°C (78.0°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 5 cm (2 in); Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 123.4 cm (48.6 in)
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 404, 678, 770
Postal Codes: 30301–94, 31101–56
Originating as a rail terminus in the nineteenth century and becoming an airline hub in the twentieth, Atlanta is a "city on the move" in more ways than one. Located in northwestern Georgia, Atlanta combines the local color of its Southern heritage with the progressive spirit that enabled it to rebuild from the fires of war, triumph over racial intolerance, and become a thriving, cosmopolitan business and cultural center. The city's attractions were spotlighted when it won the coveted honor of hosting the 1996 Olympic Games, which provided yet another opportunity for Atlanta to display its energy and its courage in overcoming adversity, when the Games were completed as planned in spite of the bombings in Centennial Olympic Park.
Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and its largest city, as well as the seat of Fulton County. It is located south of the Appalachian Mountains in northwestern Georgia.
North-south highways providing access to Atlanta include I-85, which connects the city to Greenville, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Montgomery, Alabama; and I-75, which extends northward to Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee, and south to Florida. The major east-west expressway is I-20 (the West Express-way), which leads to Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and westward to Texas and beyond. All of the preceding interstate highways intersect with I-285, known locally as "the Perimeter," which rings the city.
Bus and Railroad Service
Greyhound offers bus service to Atlanta. While slower than other modes of travel, it provides a unique way to experience the local color of the South. The Amtrak-operated Crescent, running north-south, connects Atlanta with points along the eastern seaboard.
As one of the nation's major airline hubs, Hartsfield International Airport, located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) outside downtown Atlanta, is one of the world's busiest airports, carrying 68 million passengers per year and providing nonstop service to 186 cities in the United States. The airport is home to Delta Airlines, which offers more than 500 flights a day from Hartsfield. A new concourse—the nation's largest—opened in 1994 for international travel, and further major improvements were made the following year, including a new central atrium linking the major terminals.
Although it is an inland city, Atlanta is a thriving shipping center, with Hartsfield International Airport accounting for the largest volume of goods shipped. A Foreign Trade Zone near the airport makes Atlanta an especially attractive destination for international shippers. The city is also served by the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail lines, as well as hundreds of motor freight carriers.
Atlanta Population Profile
Area: 341.4 sq km (131.8 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 30% white; 67.1% black; 2.9% other
Nicknames: City of Trees, Capital of the New South
Area: 15,866 sq km (6,126 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 113
Percentage of total US population 2: 1%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.7%
Ethnic composition: 71.4% white; 25.8% black; and 2.6% Asian/Pacific Islander
- The Atlanta metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of the total population of the United States living in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Rather than a grid pattern, Atlanta was originally laid out with its streets converging on a central downtown area (Five Points). The city's growth has complicated this pattern with the addition of new streets—several dozen of which include the name "Peachtree"—and interstate highways cutting through the city. For visitors (and even, at times, natives), navigating the city's streets can be a challenge.
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
Atlanta boasts one of the nation's cutting-edge rapid transit systems, known as MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). The system operates 240 electric rail cars over 62.7 kilometers (39 miles) of track. Lines running north-south and east-west converge at the Five Points Station in the heart of the city. Bus service is coordinated with the rapid-transit schedule; some 150 bus routes cover a total of 2,413 kilometers (1,500 miles).
Guided sightseeing tours are offered by several tour lines. A variety of specialty tours are offered as well, including a walking tour sponsored by the Atlanta Preservation Center, a tour of the Fox Theatre District, the Historic Downtown Tour focusing on architecture, the Sweet Auburn/MLK District Tour focusing on black history, and a tour of the neighborhood that served as the setting for the play and film Driving Miss Daisy.
In 1990, the population of Atlanta was 394,000, with the following racial composition: 30 percent white and 67.1 percent black, with other groups each accounting for percentages of less than one percent. Hispanics (an ethnic rather than a racial designation) accounted for 1.9 percent of the population. The 1994 population estimate was 396,000. The population of the Atlanta Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area was estimated at 3,627,184 as of 1997. The region's racial composition was listed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 as 71.4 percent white; 25.8 percent black; and 2.6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. Hispanics accounted for three percent of the metropolitan area population.
Downtown Atlanta is the city's business and financial center. Its landmarks include the Peachtree Center hotel, convention, and office complex; the Underground Atlanta shopping facility; Georgia State University; Centennial Olympic Park (developed for the 1996 Olympics); the Georgia World Congress Center; and the Georgia Dome athletic facility.
The traditionally black neighborhood of Sweet Auburn, home of Martin Luther King, Jr., draws large numbers of visitors every year. The National Park Service has accorded park status to the district in honor of Dr. King, whose boyhood home and church are located here.
The Midtown area, north of downtown, is home to some of Atlanta's best-known cultural institutions, including the renowned Fox Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, where the Atlanta Symphony performs, the Hugh Museum of Art, and the Alliance Theatre. Also located here are Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Buckhead is an upscale district located about ten kilometers (six miles) north of downtown Atlanta, home to elegant mansions, exclusive shops and boutiques, and fine restaurants. The Atlanta History Center is located here.
The Virginia-Highland neighborhood is Atlanta's Greenwich Village, featuring a colorful mix of bookstores, sidewalk cafes, art galleries, bistros, ethnic restaurants, and eclectic shops that draw the culturally sophisticated to this part of town.
Against a gracious setting that includes a number of Victorian homes, Little Five Points serves as a center for youthful Generation X-and Y-ers to display the latest in offbeat youth culture trends.
The suburb of Decatur, founded in 1823, is known for its many festivals and other annual events, as well as the impressive Farmers Market.
Atlanta's origin as a railroad settlement was evident in its original name—Terminus—when founded as a village in 1837. It was to this spot that the Western & Atlantic railroad was to run southward from the Tennessee state line, and from here that it would connect with other parts of the state. Reinforcing the white settlers' hold on the area was an edict forcing 17,000 Cherokee and Creek Indians hundreds of miles westward, on the route that became known as the "Trail of Tears." The town was renamed Marthasville in 1843, Atlanta two years later, and incorporated in 1848. By the start of theCivil War (1861–65), Atlanta was a bustling commercial center.
In 1861, after vigorous public debate, Atlanta decided to become one of the 11 states seceding from the Union over the issue of slavery, even making a bid to become the capital of the Confederacy—an honor that ultimately went to Richmond, Virginia. The rail links that had allowed the city to rise to prominence before the war made it a vital supply depot and medical center during the conflict, a fact that also made it an attractive target for Union forces. In the summer of 1864 Confederate forces under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman laid siege to the city, which was first occupied and then virtually burned to the ground by Union troops.
Military occupation by Union soldiers continued until 1876, but the city began energetically rebuilding. The railroads were repaired, and new homes, businesses, and cultural and educational institutions sprang up. In 1877 Atlanta became the permanent capital of Georgia; in 1888 it adopted as its official symbol a phoenix rising from the ashes, as the city itself had done. In the last two decades of the twentieth century, the city's population more than doubled, to 90,000.
The city continued its rapid growth in the early twentieth century, its population reaching 155,000 by 1910 and continuing to rise in spite of a second catastrophic fire in 1917. The city's black population grew rapidly, and the early years of the century were marred by the racial intolerance common throughout the South. In 1900 Atlanta professor W. E. B. du Bois founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), still the nation's leading advocacy institution for blacks. Following race riots in the early 1900s, the black business community formed its own successful enclave on Auburn Street, where it thrived. Eventually, Atlanta became a center of black higher education, characterized by long-time mayor William Hartsfield as a city "too busy to hate." With the rise to prominence of Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta became a hub of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Atlanta, begun as a rail terminus, continued its tradition of transportation leadership with the completion of its first airport in 1929 and its rapid rise to become one of the nation's major air transport centers. Improved facilities followed in rapid succession in 1961, 1977, and 1980, the year the new Harts-field International Airport opened. "Whether you're going to heaven or hell," it has been said, "you'll have to change planes in Atlanta."
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||2,689,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||12,033,000|
|Date the city was founded||1837||AD 969||753 BC||723 BC|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$93||$193||$172||$129|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$36||$56||$59||$62|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$22||$14||$15||$16|
|Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals)||$131||$173||$246||$207|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||1||13||20||11|
|Largest newspaper||Atlanta Journal-Constitution||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||Renmin Ribao|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||303,698||1,159,450||754,930||3,000,000|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1868||1944||1976||1948|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
In the post-war decades Atlanta has become an increasingly cosmopolitan city, drawing a growing number of international travelers with such facilities as a 4,500-seat civic center, a 16,000-seat coliseum, and a 232,250-square-meter (two-and-a-half-million-square-foot) convention center. The city acquired three major-league sports teams in the 1960s. In 1988, Atlanta gained international attention when it hosted the Democratic National Convention. The global spotlight shone even more brightly on the city in the 1990s, as it prepared for the 1996 Olympics, transforming its landscape with the construction of the Olympic Village. The Games drew 11,000 athletes from 197 different countries—a record for the modern Olympics. They were marred by a bombing in Centennial Olympic Park that killed two people and injured more than 100, but the Games went on as scheduled. Crowds soon flocked back to the park, and the focus returned to the athletes themselves, whose triumphs ultimately provided the main drama of the Games and left the city with indelible positive images of the long-planned event.
Atlanta's municipal government vests executive power in its mayor; the legislative function is carried out by an 18-member council, whose members are elected both by individual districts and citywide. Atlanta is also the capital of Georgia and home to its 56-member state senate and 180-member house of representatives and its governor.
With more than 2,300 employees, the Atlanta Police Department is Georgia's largest law enforcement agency. It has declared as its major public safety priorities youth-related crime, domestic violence, and the perception of crime in Atlanta.
In 1995, violent crimes reported to police (per 100,000 population) totaled 3,646 and included 45 murders, 109 rapes, 1,300 robberies, and 2,191 aggravated assaults. Property crimes totaled 13,421 and included 2,892 burglaries, 8,463 cases of larceny/theft, and 2,065 motor vehicle thefts.
Atlanta has a thriving economy and is known for its pro-business climate, the result of a combination of factors, including its excellent infrastructure and status as an airline hub, and the welcoming attitude of the city and its residents toward outsiders. Major corporations headquartered in Atlanta include BellSouth Corporation, Coca-Cola, the United Parcel System, Delta Air Lines, Pacific Corporation, and Home Depot. In addition, several hundred of the nation's top companies have branch offices in Atlanta. Atlanta's most famous businessman is broadcasting mogul Ted Turner, founder of the Cable News Network (CNN) and owner of the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks sports teams.
For a major urban area, Atlanta has an unusual degree of tree cover, and the city works hard to keep it that way. A government permit is required to cut down a tree, and all trees that are removed must be replaced by a variety of shade trees. Trees Atlanta, a nonprofit organization dedicated to tree conservation, planted more than 12,000 trees in the 1990s.
Atlanta is considered the shopping capital of the southeastern United States, famed both for the number and variety of retailers in the region. In the heart of the city is Underground Atlanta, with both underground and above-ground shopping thoroughfares. The wealthy Buckhead neighborhood is considered a "must" for shoppers, with a variety of specialty stores, boutiques, antique stores (for which Bennett Street is known), and galleries, as well as two major shopping malls, both located at the intersection of Peachtree and Lenox roads. Attracting 14 million visitors annually, Lenox Square is Atlanta's oldest and largest shopping mall. It is anchored by major retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Macy's, and Atlanta-based Rich's, and boasts some 200 specialty stores of all kinds. Nearby is the upscale Phipps Plaza, home to Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as such famous brand name stores as Tiffany and Gucci. Other popular malls in the Atlanta area include Perimeter and the Galleria. Stone Mountain Village, just outside Stone Mountain Park, features antiques, crafts, and collectibles in an old-time village setting with historic buildings.
Atlanta's public school system enrolled 60,064 students in a total of 99 schools in the fall of 1996 and employed 3,605 classroom teachers, with a student/teacher ratio of 16.7 to one. During the 1995–96 school year, 2,054 students graduated from high schools in the city. In the 1994–95 school year, revenues from state, local, and federal sources totaled $499,845,000, and expenditures totaled $416,105, or $6,986 per pupil.
In the 1990s public education in Atlanta received a boost with the inauguration of the Georgia Lottery for Education. Among the activities it has helped fund are a prekindergarten program, the HOPE scholarship program, and new educational technology, as well as centers to train school personnel in using it. Atlanta's public school system has been widely praised for its Magnet School Program, which offers concentrated courses of study to students interested in particular career areas, including communications, performing arts, information processing, and the hospitality industry.
Located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia State University is the state's second-largest institution of higher learning. The university enrolls more than 20,000 students, who take courses offered by 50 academic departments. Emory University is a noted private university situated on a 255-hectare (631-acre) campus in Atlanta. It underwent major physical improvement and expansion in the 1990s thanks to a $105 million gift from the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Fund. A unique academic presence in Atlanta is Atlanta University Center, a consortium of six traditionally black colleges in the area. The six colleges, which share some facilities, but remain independent entities, are Clark Atlanta University, Inter-denominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College.
Other colleges and universities in the Atlanta area include the Atlanta College of Art, Atlanta Metropolitan College, DeKalb College, the DeVry Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Oglethorpe University.
13. Health Care
Home to many first-rate health care professionals and facilities, Atlanta offers its residents the highest quality of care. Both Emory University and the Morehouse School of Medicine train future doctors, and the Emory University Health Care System—comprising Emory University Hospital, Crawford Long Hospital, the Emory Clinic, and other affiliates—is the city's largest healthcare institution. In 1998, Emory University Hospital had 513 staffed beds, employed 1,220 personnel, and recorded 20,336 admissions and 72,898 outpatient visits. Egleston Children's Health Care System is a major referral center for the Southeast, treating more than 100,000 children every year.
In 1995 the Atlanta metropolitan area had 43 community hospitals, with a total of 9,706 beds and 5,755 office-based physicians.
As home to the Turner Broadcasting System, the Weather Channel, 11 television stations, and both a morning and afternoon major daily newspaper, Atlanta is a major media outlet. Turner Broadcasting operates CNN, the first round-the-clock all-news network, begun in 1980 by media magnate Ted Turner, as well as other networks and a number of subsidiaries. The company also owns the rights to thousands of film and TV titles, including Gone with the Wind, the classic film written by Atlantan Margaret Mitchell. In addition to 11 major local television stations, Atlanta has dozens of AM and FM radio stations running the gamut from National Public Radio (NPR) to country-and-western.
Atlanta's major newspaper is a daily that appears weekday mornings as The Atlanta Constitution and afternoons as the Atlanta Journal. Combined editions of the two papers appear over the weekend. In 1998 daily circulation was reported as 353,770 mornings, 123,220 evenings, and 677,019 for the combined paper on Sundays. Other Atlanta dailies are the African-American newspaper the Atlanta Daily World, the Daily Report, a paper for the business and legal communities, and the Marietta Daily Journal, which focuses on local coverage of Cobb County.
General-interest periodicals published in Atlanta include the monthly Atlanta Magazine, the bi-monthly Atlanta Now, published by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Atlanta Tribune, a newsmagazine that focuses on African Americans, and the monthly Guide to Georgia, which lists upcoming events in Atlanta and elsewhere in the state. Special-interest periodicals include the quarterly Popcorn, focusing on glamour and entertainment; Poets, Artists, and Madmen, which covers the arts; and Art Papers, a bimonthly that is the most influential art publication in the Southeast.
Atlanta fields major-league teams in baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. The Atlanta Braves baseball franchise, owned by Ted Turner, was dubbed the "team of the '90s," competing in the World Series four times in the decade and winning the championship in 1995. Turner Field, the Braves' home since 1997, was modified from a structure originally built for the 1996 Olympic Games. The Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team, also owned by Turner, moved to a new home downtown in Philips Arena in the fall of 1999. The NFL's Atlanta Falcons play home games in the Georgia Dome. A new NHL hockey team, the Atlanta Thrashers, began play in Philips Arena in the fall of 1999.
Auto racing can be seen at Road Atlanta, a 45-minute drive north from downtown and one of the region's best auto-racing venues.
At 75 hectares (185 acres), Piedmont Park is Atlanta's largest park. The tree-filled park is a favorite with walkers, who can enjoy a six-kilometer (four-mile) loop trail over its somewhat hilly terrain. There is also a paved five-kilometer (three-mile) jogging path and trails for cycling and skating, as well as ball fields frequently used for baseball and football. Home to the annual Arts Festival of Atlanta and many other fairs and festivals, Piedmont Park is also the location of the Atlanta Botanical Garden and a regular venue for summertime Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concerts. Other Atlanta parks include Chastain Park and Grant Park.
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area extends along the Chattahoochee River shoreline. It is graced with scenic views and abundant plant and animal life and also offers 113 kilometers (70 miles) of trails. The Chattahoochee Nature Center offers both woodland and wetland trails. Other parks in the Greater Atlanta area include Panola Mountain State Conservation Park, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, and Sweetwater Creek State Park.
Atlanta has a number of municipal golf courses, and several privately owned courses are also open to the public. The Atlanta area also offers facilities for horseback riding, field hockey, ice skating, racquetball, tennis, and other popular recreational activities.
17. Performing Arts
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, which rose to prominence under the direction of famed American choral and orchestral conductor Robert Shaw, performs in Woodruff Arts Center under the direction of its current music director, Yoel Levi. Also performing a regular season of classical music are the Atlanta Chamber Players, whose repertoire ranges from the classics to contemporary pieces specially commissioned by the ensemble. The Atlanta Opera, directed by William Fred Scott, stages four productions annually at the Fox Theatre, attracting top guest soloists from across the country. In 1998, the Opera had 6,822 seasonal subscribers and a budget of $4.96 million. The company's educational and outreach division, the Atlanta Opera Studio, performs throughout the state, staging comic and one-act operas.
Atlanta's main theater group—and the major theatrical group in the South-east—is the Alliance Theatre Company, which performs at the Woodruff Arts Center, staging approximately ten plays per year. Special performances for children are staged by the Alliance Children's Theatre. Other Atlanta theater companies include Actor's Express, Horizon Theatre Company, Neighborhood Playhouse, Theatrical Outfit, Theatre Gael, and Theatre in the Square.
First founded in 1929 as the Dorothy Alexander Dance Concert Group, the Atlanta Ballet is the oldest continuously performing ballet troupe in the nation. In addition to a six-productions annual series, the company offers a performance of The Nutcracker every year.
In addition to the Woodruff Arts Center and the Fox Theatre, other venues for local and touring performers include the Atlanta Civic Center and Variety Playhouse. Outdoor theaters include Chastain Park Amphitheatre and the Coca-Cola Lakewood Amphitheatre.
Founded in 1901, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System serves 780,694 people, with an annual circulation of 3,102,081. Its book holdings total approximately 426,248 volumes. The library system also operates 32 neighborhood branches. The areas in which it holds special collections include African American Culture & History, Genealogy, and Margaret Mitchell.
Atlanta's High Museum of Art is housed in a modern award-winning building designed by architect Richard Meier and completed in 1983. The building features a series of ramps that curve along the building's front wall and an elevator that goes to the very top. The museum maintains some 10,000 artworks in its permanent collection, ranging from primitive to classical to contemporary, and regularly features traveling exhibitions. A separate collection, housed in the Georgia-Pacific Center, features folk art and photography.
Atlanta's cosmopolitan reputation and thriving business activity bring many visitors to the city, and tourism received a major boost from the 1996 Olympics. In 1995 approximately 495,000 foreign travelers visited the city, ranking it twelfth nationally in this category.
Atlanta Boat Show
Atlanta Garden & Patio Show
National King Week
Southeastern Flower Show
Atlanta Home Show
St. Patrick's Day Celebration
Atlanta Dogwood Festival
Fat Tuesday Jazz & Heritage Crawfish Festival
Inman Park Spring Festival & Tour of Homes
PGA BellSouth Classic
Atlanta Renaissance Festival
Atlanta Caribbean Folk Festival
Atlanta Jazz Festival
Taste of the South Festival
LATE MAY-EARLY JUNE
Spring Boat Show
Atlanta Film & Video Festival
Stone Mountain Village Arts & Crafts Festival
Georgia Shakespeare Festival
National Black Arts Festival
Thunder Over Atlanta Fireworks
Montreux Atlanta International Music Festival
Arts Festival of Atlanta
Atlanta Greek Festival
Roswell Arts Festival
Yellow Daisy Festival
Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Tour of Southern Ghosts
Atlanta Christmas Show
Peachtree International Film Festival
Art of the Season
CNN Center Tuba Christmas
Festival of Trees
First Night Atlanta
New Year's Eve Peach Drop
21. Famous Citizens
Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (b. 1934), black baseball great who broke Babe Ruth's home run record in 1974.
Henry W. Grady (1850–89), editor of the Atlanta Constitution during the post-Civil War period who worked to reconstruct Atlanta as a modern metropolis.
Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908), author famous for his children's tales of B'rer Rabbit.
Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones (1902–71), golfer who founded the Masters Tournament and compiled a golfing record unsurpassed in the history of the game.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), civil rights leader and Nobel Prizewinning champion of social progress through nonviolent resistance.
Margaret Mitchell (1900–49), onetime reporter famous as the author of Gone with the Wind.
John C. Portman (b. 1924), architect who pioneered the atrium-lobby in hotel design and designed many major Atlanta buildings in the 1960s.
Robert Edward "Ted" Turner (b. 1938), media and entertainment mogul who founded the Cable News Network (CNN) and owns the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks.
Alfred Uhry (b. 1936), prize-winning playwright and author of numerous award-winning dramas, including Driving Miss Daisy.
Robert W. Woodruff (1889–1985), Coca-Cola Company president known for his outstanding civic leadership.
Atlanta.TheLinks.com [Online] Available http://www.atlanta.thelinks.com/ (accessed October 15, 1999).
DigitalCity WebGuide Atlanta. [Online] Available http://www.webguide.digitalcity.com/atlanta (accessed October 15, 1999).
Excite Travel, Inc. [Online] Available http://www.city.net/countries/united_states/georgia/atlanta (accessed October 15, 1999).
Info Atlanta. [Online] Available http://www.travel.to/atlanta (accessed October 15, 1999).
Atlanta City Hall
55 Trinity Ave. SW
Atlanta, GA 30335
Atlanta Planning and Development Dept.
55 Trinity Ave. SW, Suite 1450
Atlanta, GA 30335
55 Trinity Ave. SW, Suite 2400
Atlanta, GA 30335
Tourist and Convention Bureaus
Atlanta Convention and Visitors' Bureau
233 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30303
P.O. Box 4689
Atlanta, GA 30302
1330 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 450
Atlanta, GA 30309
Allen, Frederick. Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City, 1946–1996. Atlanta, GA: Longstreet Press, 1996.
Clayton, Sarah Conley. Requiem for a Lost City: A Memoir of Civil War Atlanta and the Old South. Ed. Robert Scott Davis, Jr. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1999.
David, Harold E. Henry Grady's New South: Atlanta, A Brave and Beautiful City. University of Alabama Press, 1990.
Davis, Ren, and Helen Davis. Atlanta Walks: A Guide to Walking, Running, and Bicycling Historic and Scenic Atlanta. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 1993.
Garrison, Webb B. Atlanta and the War. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1995.
Knorr, Rosanne. Kidding Around Atlanta. J. Muir, 1997.
Kuhn, Clifford M. Living Atlanta, An Oral History of the City, 1914–1948. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990.
McCarley, J. Britt. The Atlanta Campaign: A Civil War Driving Tour of Atlanta Area Battlefields. Atlanta: Cherokee Publishing Co., 1984.
Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind. New York: Macmillan, 1936. [Fiction]
Pomerantz, Gary. Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn: The Saga of Two Families and the Making of Atlanta. New York: Scribner, 1996.
Shavin, Norman, and Bruce Galphin. Atlanta: Triumph of a People. Atlanta: Capricorn Corp., 1985.
Thompson, Joseph F., and Robert Isbell. Atlanta: A City of Neighborhoods. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1994.
ATLANTA , capital of the state of Georgia, U.S. General population of greater Atlanta: 4,400,000; Jewish population: 97,000. Atlanta was chartered in 1837 as Terminus and developed as an important transportation center. German Jews lived in the area starting in the early 1840s. The first Jew who lived in Atlanta was Jacob Haas; he opened a dry goods business with Henry Levi in 1846. Moses Sternberger, Adolph Brady, and David Mayer followed shortly as did Aaron Alexander and his family, who were American-born Sephardim from Charleston, South Carolina. The Hebrew Benevolent Society established in 1860 became the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation in 1867. This occurred following a visit by Rev. Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, who came to conduct a wedding. Leeser was the ḥazzan of Mikveh Israel of Philadelphia in the middle of the 19th century. He established the monthly Occident newspaper in 1844 which became a major media vehicle for American Jewry. He stood for traditional Judaism as Isaac Mayer *Wise began to pioneer Reform Judaism in the U.S. Leeser urged the leadership to form an actual congregation which was incorporated that year. Later the synagogue came to be known as the "Temple." The first rabbi was appointed in 1869, and the first building was constructed in 1877. Although Reform from its inception, several of the rabbis in the late 1800s were more traditional, but with the arrival of Dr. David Marx in 1898, the character of the Temple became almost Radical Reform with even Sunday services substituted for Sabbath services from 1904 to 1908.
East Europeans emigrating in the late 1870s established several Orthodox congregations in the following decade. They merged into the Ahavath Achim synagogue in 1887. After several breakaway shuls were formed and then disappeared, the congregation built a synagogue in 1901. In 1896 a visitor from Palestine came to Atlanta to collect money to issue his new book. When it appeared in Jerusalem in 1898 as Ẓir Ne'eman, the author, Yehoshua Ze'ev Avner, listed the 18 Atlanta contributors, including the Moses Montefiore Relief Society and the Ahavath Achim congregation. The descendants of some of the contributors still lived in Atlanta in 2005. One of the early rabbis, Berachya Mayerowitz (1902–6), gave his sermons in English. He also led a major fundraising effort at the city's Bijou Theater for the survivors of the Kishniev pogrom in April 1903. On December 5–6, 1904, he welcomed Jacob deHaas, director of the Federation of American Zionists, on his boom trip of three weeks throughout the south. DeHaas characterized the members of the congregation as "muscular Jews committed to Zionism."
One of the breakaway Orthodox congregations in the early 20th century, Shearith Israel, was incorporated in 1904 and survived. Several others did not. In 1910 Rabbi Tobias *Geffen became the rabbi of the synagogue, which was seeking a rabbi with "outstanding learning credentials" and one whose "sermons could touch the hearts of the people." His 60-year career in Atlanta was a blend of Orthodoxy and modernism. His determination to raise the level of Jewish education succeeded when he and later his children personally taught in the Atlanta Jewish Preparatory School and Shearith Israel Sunday School. Nine Atlanta men and one Chattanooga individual, who boarded, became Orthodox and Conservative rabbis. In two areas, he was the authority not only for Atlanta but throughout the South. He was the mesader gittin, issuing Jewish divorces throughout his career, and he checked the shoḥetim in Atlanta and 15 other cities. In 1916 in Atlanta 48 Jewish families, who did not live in the "center of the Jewish community," petitioned Rabbi Geffen to permit a slaughterer of chickens to be available in their area, outside of his normal jurisdiction, once a week to do kosher killing at "five cents a chicken." Rabbi Geffen's most notable halakhic decision, giving a hekhsher to Coca-Cola, an Atlanta company, was made in 1934.
In 1919 Rabbi Tobias Geffen met with Bishop Warren Candler, chancellor of Emory, a Methodist college which had just moved to Atlanta from South Georgia. Geffen's concern about Saturday classes prompted Candler to permit observant Jewish students who attended Emory to be present on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays without having to take notes and stand for exams. (Rabbi) Joel *Geffen and (Professor) Moses *Hadas were the first two Jewish students in this category. After a decade the Saturday classes ended, which resolved the issue.
The Jewish student body at Emory remained small until the 1950s. Professor Nathan *Saltz, who graduated from the Emory medical school in 1940, made aliyah in 1949 and established the surgical systems for all the major hospitals in Israel. In 1998 he was awarded the Israel Prize in Medicine. In the 1950s the number of Jewish students in all the Emory University schools was between 150 and 175. By the 1970s Emory's reputation was attracting Jewish students from the entire United States. Hillel statistics in the 1990s suggested that between 30 to 40% of the 5,500 undergraduates were Jewish. Parallel to the student growth was the faculty growth both in academic Judaica and general academia. Professor David Blumenthal was given the Jay and Leslie Cohen chair in Jewish Thought in 1976 when it was established. When the Carter Center came into being in the early 1980s, Professor Ken Stein, a Middle East specialist, was chosen as the academic director. In 2004 there were 12 full-time faculty members teaching in all areas of Judaica. The Dorot Professor of Jewish History is the noted Holocaust specialist, Deborah Lipstadt. A masters program in Jewish Studies exists and a doctoral program was being planned. When Arthur *Blank of Home Depot gave Emory a major gift, the department was given Blank's spiritual leader's name, Rabbi Donald Tam Jewish Studies Department.
In addition to the thousands of new Judaic volumes in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, and many other languages purchased by the Woodruff Library of Emory in the last 25 years, the Special Collections department under the leadership of Dr. Linda Matthews, now head of all libraries at the school, began to receive diverse collections of Jewish interest. The Rabbi Jacob Rothschild papers, Holocaust collections from various sources, the Elliot Levitas papers (Rhodes Scholar and Georgia congressman), the Morris Abrams papers, the Geffen papers, and numerous other collections are all in Emory's Special Collections. Nineteenth century Judaica Americana has both been donated and purchased.
Atlanta's earliest Jews were mostly merchants. Some, primarily members of the Temple, were active in such fields as banking, brokerage, insurance, and real estate and pioneered in the manufacture of paper products and cotton bagging. The East European Jews had small stores, and a large number were pawnbrokers on Decatur Street in the heart of the city. Throughout the 1920s, Jewish lawyers and physicians were not allowed to join most law firms and could only practice at certain hospitals. Prior to World War ii those barriers were broken down, and the number of Jewish professionals increased dramatically. The main department store in the city, founded in 1884, was Rich's until it was purchased by a conglomerate in 1991. In 2005 the name Rich's disappeared completely from the store's nomenclature. Starting with its arrival in Atlanta in 1987, the Home Depot became the major Jewish-owned firm in the city.
Jews have held public office in Atlanta since the post-Civil War era. Samuel Weil and Lewis Arnheim served in the Georgia legislature in 1869 and 1872. Aaron Haas became the city's mayor pro tem in 1875. Victor Kriegshaber was president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce from 1917 until 1922. A founding member of the Atlanta Board of Education, David Mayer, was known as the "father of public schools." In the 1930s Max Cuba, Charles Bergman, and Louis Geffen served on the Atlanta City Council and Board of Education. After being a vice mayor of Atlanta from 1961 to 1968, Sam *Massell Jr. ran for mayor against the candidate of the Atlanta power structure, labeled as antisemitic in the course of the campaign. He won the election with 20% of the white vote and 90% of the black vote. After a very successful four-year term, Massell lost to Maynard Jackson, the first black to be elected mayor of the city.
Elliot Levitas was elected to Congress for four terms, the first Jew from Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives. Liane Levitan was the County Commissioner of DeKalb County for 20 years (1983–2003). The major electoral change in the Atlanta area was in Cobb County. There in 1915 Leo *Frank was lynched by vigilantes in the town of Marietta near the home of the young white Protestant girl whom he was convicted of murdering by circumstantial evidence. Few Jews lived in Marietta and Cobb County until the 1980s. In 2000 Sam Olens, an attorney and active Conservative Jew, was elected chairman of the Cobb County Council. After his reelection in 2004, he was chosen chairperson of the Atlanta Regional Planning Board. Two other Marietta Jews were elected as judges in the county judicial system and statewide to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Dr. David Marx (1872–1962) was rabbi of the Temple for 52 years. A leader in interfaith activities, Marx was extremely anti-Zionist, helping to found the American Council for Judaism. In 1945 his Yom Kippur sermon was a "tirade against the establishment of a Jewish state." He was challenged publicly by one of his own members, Albert Freedman, director of the Southeastern Region of the Zionist Organization of America. When Dr. Jacob *Rothschild succeeded Marx in 1947, he brought a deep commitment to social justice and also became a Zionist advocate. Rothschild was so outspoken for the civil rights of blacks that in 1958 the Temple was bombed, fortunately when no one was in the building. From the Atlanta mayor to the Georgia governor to President Eisenhower, strong support poured out against the perpetrators of this act. Ralph McGill, editor of the Atlanta Constitution and a visitor to Palestine and Israel in 1946 and 1950, won a Pulitzer Prize for his moving editorials condemning the bombing. In the 1960s Rothschild worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as new federal legislation was passed assuring American blacks their rights. When King was awarded the Nobel Prize, Rothschild organized the dinner in King's honor in Atlanta. Rothschild died a very young man and was succeeded by his associate Dr. Alvin Sugarman, an Atlanta native. Sugarman took the lead in the Atlanta Jewish community in regard to developing closer relations between the blacks and the Jews. The Rich's store, whose owners belonged to the Temple, was the first major Atlanta store to allow its cafeteria to be integrated. Many Jewish firms hired blacks for administrative positions prior to such hiring becoming widespread in the general community. The Anti-Defamation League's southeast region office in Atlanta and the American Jewish Committee's regional office worked diligently to aid blacks in court and through demonstrations. The changing attitude of the blacks toward American Jews was influenced by funding from Muslim groups and anti-Israel propaganda, which reached deeply into the South in general and Atlanta in particular.
From 1928 until 1982 Dr. Harry *Epstein served as the rabbi of Ahavath Achim. Ordained at the Hebron Yeshiva in 1925, where his brother was killed in the 1929 riots, Epstein possessed all the training necessary to be an Orthodox rabbi but chose to move his congregation into the Conservative movement after World War ii. A marvelous orator in English and Yiddish, Epstein was the key Zionist leader in Atlanta and attended national conferences in major American cities where the foundation of the State of Israel was forged during World War ii. He and Rothschild traveled to Israel together in 1950. On their return, they co-chaired the annual Welfare Fund Drive. In 1953 Epstein joined the Rabbinical Assembly and brought his congregation into the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He was most adept at training individuals to be communal and synagogue leaders. Once he moved his synagogue to the Northside of the city where most of his members lived, the congregation grew to over 2,000 families. From 1971 until 1995, Cantor Isaac Goodfriend, a Holocaust survivor, served as the cantor of Ahavath Achim. Goodfriend developed a full-scale music program at Ahavath Achim. In addition he became a community leader in his own right. He campaigned throughout the United States in 1976 for President Jimmy Carter, and he was asked to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Inauguration in Washington. Once elected, Carter appointed Stuart *Eizenstat his domestic policy advisor and attorney Robert Lifshitz, as White House counsel. Eizenstat played a major role in the legislation for the Holocaust Memorial in Washington and Cantor Goodfriend served on the first Holocaust Memorial Commission. Lifshitz was a significant figure in the negotiations between Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, which led to the Camp David agreements in 1979.
Epstein was succeeded by Dr. Arnold Goodman, who led Ahavath Achim for the last 20 years of the 20th century. He taught at one of the black colleges in Atlanta and was an outspoken advocate for Israel.
In the period just after World War ii the only synagogue facility available on the north side of Atlanta was the educational building of Ahavath Achim. A group of Orthodox Jews established in 1947 a small congregation, Beth Jacob, on Boulevard in that area. There was no way of predicting how this synagogue would change the Jewish character of Atlanta. In 1951 Dr. Emanuel Feldman came from the Ner Israel Ye-shiva in Baltimore to be Beth Jacob's rabbi. His commitment to Orthodoxy helped develop the congregation into the first of a string of Orthodox congregations and day schools. This growth coincided both with the *Ba'al Teshuvah movement in Judaism and the evangelical revival in American Christianity. Feldman was an outstanding speaker, had the knowledge to give shi'urim, and had a very fine secular education. Once Beth Jacob moved to the Toco Hills area near Emory University, Rabbi Feldman was able to build a community of Sabbath observers, many of whom taught at the university and worked at what is now known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His experience as a congregational rabbi was so successful that he wrote a "love letter to his congregation," a rare document in the American Jewish rabbinate. His son Ilan Feldman succeeded him as rabbi in 1995, and Rabbi Emanuel Feldman and his wife moved to Jerusalem.
The Sephardi congregation, Or VeShalom, was founded in 1914. The majority of the early Sephardi Jews in Atlanta, who arrived in the first decade of the 20th century, were from Rhodes. Rabbi Joseph Cohen, a Hebraic scholar and a sofer, was the spiritual leader of the congregation from the mid-1930s until 1973. Under his leadership the synagogue built a new building in the Toco Hills area in 1968.
In 1904 the Reform and Orthodox Jews formed the ymha. By 1908 it had become the Jewish Educational Alliance, and by 1911 a building was completed on Capitol Avenue. In 1954 the Alliance moved to Peachtree Street as the Jewish Community Center. As the Jewish community began to grow beyond the perimeter highway, a satellite facility of the jcc was built in 1979 in the Dunwoody area. Then the community in Cobb County expanded into a new center of Jewish life, and another satellite facility of the jcc was constructed in Marietta in 1989. Because the jcc locale in Dunwoody had major acreage, the leadership decided to sell the intown facility and build a new campus. In 1995 the jcc and adjacent Federation facilities were closed. The campus in Dunwoody was named for Bernard Marcus, who gave a major gift to the $60 million capital campaign. In the early years of the 21st century the jcc grew from 10,000 units to over 26,000 units. At the Marcus jcc campus programming is provided for all ages with athletic facilities, a professional theater, a children's discovery museum, and a kosher cafeteria.
Two organizations, the Moses Montefiore Relief Society (1896) and the Free Kindergarten and Social Settlement (1903), merged into the Federation of Jewish Charities in 1912. In 1924 the Jewish Social Services evolved out of the Federation. In 1928 Ed Kahn came to Atlanta as the head of Social Services. Then in 1936 Harold Hirsch, a noted leader in the Jewish and Atlanta legal community, pioneered the establishment of the Jewish Welfare Fund for combined fundraising, headed by Ed Kahn until 1960. He was succeeded by Mike Gettinger, an Orthodox Jew who broadened the scope of the Federation and brought in major donors from different sectors of the community. Gettinger was followed by David Sarnat, who took over in 1984.
At the end of 1984 the Metropolitan Atlanta Jewish Population Study pointed to the growth of the Jewish population from 9,630 at the end of World War ii to 59,084. Affiliation with synagogues had dropped from 90% in 1947 to 44% in 1984. The key to the future of Atlanta Jewry lay in the fact that a quarter of the population were 18 and below; 22% were in the 30–39 age bracket and only 12.6% were above 60. The Jews had moved, according to the study, to suburban areas north of Atlanta in Gwinett and Cobb counties. Because of the needs of youth and younger parents, five synagogues had been formed in these counties. In total there were 15 synagogues in the Atlanta area in 1984. In 2005 there were 34 synagogues in the Greater Atlanta area; six of which were Chabad, six Orthodox, one Gay, and the rest Reform and Conservative. In the 1984 study number 23 on the priority agenda for community needs were Jewish educational programs. Once that became known to the Federation leadership changes began to occur.
In 1985 the Torah Day School joined the Greenfield Academy (1953), Yeshiva High School (1970), and Epstein Solomon Schechter School (1973). Since then the Davis Academy (Reform) (1992), Temima Girls High School (1996), Weber Community High School (1997), and Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael (2002) have been established. There is a Tichon Communal High School for all students who are graduates of elementary day school programs and congregational religious schools. There are active Jewish educational programs at all 34 synagogues as well as afternoon Hebrew schools and Sunday schools in some congregations. The Jewish Community Center has many Jewish educational programs and lectures including the largest Melton program in the United States.
In November 1983 the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations was held in Atlanta. Featured at the newly opened Schatten Gallery in the Woodruff Library at Emory University was an exhibit on the history of Georgia Jewry from 1733 to 1983. That exhibit proved to be a key step in the founding of the Breman Jewish Museum. The Museum and Archives were established in 1996 after a major exhibit on Atlanta Jewry at the Atlanta History Center's new annex. The Breman Museum has two permanent displays: one on the Holocaust and the other on Atlanta Jewry. The Museum has been quite active, and new exhibits have been created just for display. Other traveling exhibits have also been shown at the Museum. As an archival center, the Breman Museum has major collections on Atlanta Jews and communal institutions. In addition archival material from various parts of the South is now being housed at the Museum.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta acquired its new name in 1997. Since that time the Federation's professional leadership went from David Sarnat to Steve Rakkitt. The endowment program of the Federation now contains over $125 million. The Federation is the major initiator of programs for the Jewish community, although it does not provide any grants for synagogue programs. The Federation has seen a major age change in the Jewish community, so in 1998 a new Jewish Home was constructed on the campus where the older Jewish Home stood and the Jewish Tower. The Jewish Home built in 1975 was renovated and became an assisted living facility. The campus gives senior citizens the opportunity to move from one facility to the other as per their needs.
The entrepreneurial skills of Atlanta Jewish merchants were evident in the Dalton Carpet Mart Centers, Home Depot, and dot.com startup companies. The heads of these companies, Nate Lipson, Arthur *Blank, and Bernard Marcus, have become major donors in the community. Arthur Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons Professional Football team; Bernard Marcus was building a $250 million Aquarium in the center of Atlanta. Many other communal projects are under Jewish leadership.
When Atlanta won the right to host the Summer Olympics in 1996, the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta allied itself with the Southeastern Office of the Israel Consul based in Atlanta to ensure that during the Games the martyred Munich 11 were remembered. Negotiations occurred for several years, and the Olympics Board was trying to avoid this public type of memorial. Steve Selig, at the time of the Olympics in 1996, worked incessantly until the breakthrough occurred. On the site of the Federation Offices, the Selig Center, there was a public dedication of a memorial to the Munich 11. The international president of the Modern Olympics participated in the moving event along with the families of the Munich martyrs who came from Israel to be at the Games and a very large group of Jewish Olympians from all over the world.
Atlanta has always had Anglo-Jewish papers from early in its history. There were four different English papers and one in Yiddish prior to World War i. In 1925 the Southern Israelite moved from Augusta to Atlanta and became the only weekly southern Jewish paper aside from the Baltimore Jewish Comment, which became the current Baltimore Jewish Times. The Southern Israelite, now the Atlanta Jewish Times, had three notable editors: Adolph Rosenberg, Vida Goldgar, and Neil Rubin. In the early 21st century the paper was owned by Jewish Renaissance Publications headed by Michael Steinhardt.
A writer and a playwright have helped to enlighten the American Jewish community and the world Jewish community about Atlanta Jewry. Eli Evans published The Provincials in 1973, the first book on the Jews in the South. The popularity of the book has kept it in print since then. The revised edition has several illuminating chapters on Atlanta Jewry through the year 2000. The playwright Alfred Uhry made Atlanta Jewry come to life in his award-winning play Driving Miss Daisy. Uhry captures the spirit of the Atlanta Temple crowd through the interaction of Miss Daisy and her chauffeur Hoke. The play has been produced in many languages and was an Oscar award-winning movie with Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Alfred Uhry has donated his papers to Special Collections at Emory University.
S. Hertzberg, Strangers Within the Gate City (1978); M.K. Bauman, "Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces Facing the People of Many Communities: Atlanta Jewry from the Frank Case to the Great Depression," in: The Atlanta Historical Journal, vol. 23 (1979), 25–54; E. Evans, The Provincials (19972); L. Dinnerstein, The Leo Frank Case (1968); Creating Community (Breman Museum, 1994), essays on Atlanta Jewry for the exhibit at the Atlanta Historical Center 1994–95; The Southern Israelite – Atlanta Jewish Times (1925– ).
[David Geffen (2nd ed.)]
The Atlanta area offers extraordinarily rich opportunities for leisure, pleasure, and culture. A popular site within the city is Grant Park, which includes scenic walking paths, the Zoo Atlanta featuring a Giant Panda exhibit until 2009, and some Civil War fortifications. The Civil War Museum on park grounds houses the famous Cyclorama, a huge three-dimensional panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta. Visitors sit on a revolving platform to view the work, the impact heightened by sound and light effects as well as a narration that explains the scene. Open since 1893, it is dubbed "The Longest Running Show in the Country." Various Civil War battle sites, parks, cemeteries, and memorials are also scattered throughout the city and are accessible to visitors. Scheduled to open in late 2005 is the $200 million Georgia Aquarium, featuring more than 55,000 animals in 5 million gallons of fresh and marine waters. The new Aquarium expects to serve more than 2 million visitors annually.
Also within the city is the Georgia State Capitol. Built in 1889 and patterned after the Capitol in Washington, D.C., it has a dome plated with gold mined in northern Georgia. Besides serving as the meeting place for the state's General Assembly, the Capitol is home to the Georgia Capitol Museum.
Underground Atlanta is an "adult playground" of bars, restaurants, and shops in the heart of the city's downtown. Every New Year's it plays host to the "Peach Drop" with music, fireworks, and an 800-pound peach resembling New York's Times Square ball. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District near Underground Atlanta honors the slain civil rights leader, a native of Atlanta. The entire area was renovated in time for the 1996 Olympic Games to give a sense of the neighborhood as it was during King's lifetime. The district encompasses King's childhood home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church (where he preached), and, adjacent to the church, his tomb. The district includes a visitors' center that tells the story of the civil rights movement and King's role in the movement. Nearby is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change that draws about 650,000 visitors annually.
Adjacent to Underground Atlanta in a three-story pavilion, The World of Coca-Cola, a collection of exhibits and more than 1,000 articles commemorating the history of Atlanta's most famous product, provides fun for the whole family. Another popular attraction is the CNN Center, the news and entertainment center of Turner Broadcasting's global headquarters, which offers tours, shops, and restaurants.
Outside Atlanta are several other notable attractions. The most popular is Stone Mountain, located about 20 miles east of downtown. The world's largest mass of exposed granite, the treeless dome stands more than 800 feet above the surrounding plain and measures approximately 5 miles in circumference. On the mountain's north face are carved colossal figures of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and General Stonewall Jackson. Work began in 1923 but after several design changes it was not declared completed until 1972. A 3,200-acre park fans out from the base of the mountain, featuring a lake and recreational facilities for dozens of sports and other outdoor activities such as waterslides, golf, and tennis along with laser shows and a riverboat. Also within the park is Magnolia Hall, an authentic antebellum plantation house moved from another Georgia location and restored to its former elegance. Some 20 miles north of Atlanta is Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, which also combines history and recreation. The site of several major Civil War battles, the Kennesaw Mountain area now boasts a museum and some fortifications along with hiking trails and picnic grounds.
For those seeking pure entertainment, Six Flags parks bring three different venues to the area. Six Flags Over Georgia is located about 12 miles west of the city. The 331-acre family-oriented theme park features more than 100 rides, musical shows, and other attractions. During the summer months, thousands of visitors make it one of the busiest parks in the area. Six Flags White Water offers a variety of water-related activities such as giant slides, raft rides, and body flumes. Adjacent to it is Six Flags American Adventure, an outdoor park with roller coasters, bumper cars, and an array of rides for small children.
For nature-lovers, the Fernbank Science Center has trails, natural history exhibits, and one of the largest planetariums in the nation. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History offers 160,000 square feet of space providing dinosaur and wildlife exhibits and an IMAX theater. The Atlanta Botanical Garden, located in Piedmont Park, is also a favorite stop for those wishing to enjoy its vegetable, herb, rose, and oriental plantings on 15 acres. The Botanical Garden also includes a children's garden and a conservatory with rare and endangered plants from rainforests and deserts.
Arts and Culture
Integral to Atlanta's cultural life is the Woodruff Arts Center, consisting of the Memorial Arts Building (itself a work of modern art) and the High Museum of Art. The cooperating units in the center include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre, and the Atlanta College of Art. Another major center is the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, located in a 1920s-era Gothic-Tudor-style mansion. The center accommodates 4,000 students annually with various arts classes, and offers a range of concerts, recitals, and exhibits.
Atlanta has a vital theater, dance, and music community that profits from the area's fine facilities and the generous patronage of its businesses and interested citizens. Performing at the Memorial Arts Building of the Woodruff Arts Center are the Alliance Theatre, which stages both standard and innovative works, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Entertainment is provided by numerous other professional and amateur groups based in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Ballet (the oldest regional ballet company in the United States, originating in 1929), the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, and the Georgia Ensemble Theatre. Since 1978, The Center of Puppetry Arts is said to be the only facility in the country devoted solely to puppetry and features three performance series, workshops, and a museum.
Local colleges and universities also sponsor a wide variety of performing arts programs in theater, dance, and music. Oglethorpe University's Georgia Shakespeare Festival presents a series of performances in the summer and fall.
Atlanta's museums and galleries cater to many different interests. State and local history are on view at the Atlanta History Center, whose main attractions are the Swan House, a former private residence that typifies the milieu of a wealthy Atlanta family during the 1930s; and Tullie Smith House, a restored 1835 farm house that illustrates how early Georgia farmers lived and worked; and several gardens.
Other museums in the city include the Wren's Nest, a Victorian mansion that was named a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and was home to Joel Chandler Harris, creator of the Uncle Remus stories, and now displays original furnishings, books, and memorabilia; the Margaret Mitchell house in midtown; the Governor's Mansion, a modern structure built in Greek Revival style and housing nineteenth-century furnishings; the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, whose exhibits include A Walk Through Time in Georgia; and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, a 50,000-square-foot facility that opened in 1996 and has exhibits dating to 1733, when Jews first settled in Georgia, along with a Holocaust gallery.
With a few notable exceptions, private galleries showcase most of Atlanta's art. Public facilities include the High Museum of Art, which displays more than 11,000 works of primarily Western art from the early Renaissance to the present, and Chastain Gallery, which highlights the contemporary works of Georgia artists.
Festivals and Holidays
Two of Atlanta's biggest celebrations are the Dogwood Festival, held every spring, and the Arts Festival, a staple on the fall calendar. The Dogwood Festival coincides with the blooming of dogwood trees in the area in April; events include a parade, tours, garden competitions, arts and crafts displays, canine competition, and musical performances. Held in downtown Atlanta, the Arts Festival is a week-long affair that attracts nearly 2 million people to a multitude of different activities involving the visual and performing arts. Among Atlanta's other annual events are the Memorial Day weekend Jazz Festival and summer concert series, which features local and international talent; the Peachtree Road Race, a 10K run held annually since 1970 during the July 4th holiday; the National Black Arts Festival, held in late June and early July at the Woodruff Arts Center focusing on dance, music, and art; the Stone Mountain Highland Games and Scottish Festival, an October celebration since 1973 that brings international travelers to the region; and December's Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl football game and its related activities.
Sports for the Spectator
Fans of sports of all kinds can usually find their favorite form of action somewhere in Atlanta, the sports capital of the South. The city is home to five professional franchises: the Falcons, a National Football League team; baseball's National League team, the Braves; the Hawks, a National Basketball Association team; the Thrashers, a National Hockey League team; and the Ruckus, of the American Professional Soccer League. The Falcons play at the Georgia Dome. The Braves play at Turner Field, formerly the Centennial Olympic Stadium downtown. The Hawks and Thrashers face their rivals at the $219 million Philips Arena, which opened in September 1999.
Since 1934 Atlanta has been home to the nation's largest recreational tennis league, Atlanta Lawn and Tennis Association (ALTA), with more than 81,000 members. Stone Mountain Tennis Center, which seats about 2,000 people around two center courts and has an 8,000-seat stadium, played host to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Tennis. The city also hosts many collegiate competitions in these same sports, among them the annual Peach Bowl football contest and the NCAA basketball championships, the Heritage Bowl, and others.
Auto racing buffs have two tracks to choose from just outside the metropolitan area. Atlanta Motor Speedway, about 25 miles south of the city, features NASCAR and other events. Forty-five miles north of the city is Road Atlanta, site of one of the world's largest sports car races, an event that draws top international drivers and thousands of spectators. The Grand Prix of Atlanta is held annually in April.
Atlanta also hosts numerous other sporting events throughout the year. Two of the most notable are the BellSouth Classic, a Professional Golfer's Association tournament held every spring at the Sugarloaf Country Club which raises money for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Atlanta Steeplechase, the area's major horse show. Tennis and polo are also growing in popularity as spectator sports in Atlanta.
Sports for the Participant
Atlanta's physical setting and mild climate combine to make the city and its environs ideal for outdoor activities of all types. Running is an especially popular local sport; the Atlanta Track Club is one of the largest in the country, and it sponsors a number of annual events, including the Peachtree Road Race 10K and the Atlanta Women's 5K. Golfers may choose from 39 public courses and a host of new luxury golf communities growing up outside the city, while tennis players can visit any one of more than 200 courts.
Water sports enthusiasts can take advantage of the facilities along the Chattahoochee River to go canoeing, rafting, fishing, and camping. Within an hour's drive of the city are Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona, both man-made lakes surrounded by recreation areas that encompass beaches, golf courses, horseback riding trails, and other amenities.
The Peachtree Center Athletic Club brings a number of activities to the downtown area such as aquatics, racquetball, pilates, squash, and group fitness.
Shopping and Dining
Atlanta's modern shopping facilities draw consumers to the city from throughout the entire region. More than a dozen malls and outlet centers ring the metropolitan area. Lenox Square, in the Buckhead neighborhood, and nearby Phipps Plaza, offer exclusive shops such as Neiman Marcus, Macy's, and Rich's along with antique stores. Downtown, Peachtree Center offers shopping in the heart of the city while other shopping opportunities await at Underground Atlanta. Opened since 1999 just north of Atlanta is the Mall of Georgia, the southeast's largest shopping complex; it is anchored by Lord & Taylor, Penney's, Dillard's, Rich-Macy's, and Nordstrom, and its restaurants offer cuisines ranging from traditional Southern food to upscale and ethnic delicacies. The mall's decor incorporates the five regions of Georgia and their histories. Ten miles south of the city is the State Farmer's Market, a gigantic retail and wholesale center where visitors have the opportunity to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, meats, plants, shrubs, and flowers.
Atlanta diners have hundreds of restaurants to choose from, and traditional Southern cooking (catfish, hushpuppies, ham and redeye gravy, barbecue, fried chicken, and Brunswick stew) and soul food are widely available. Atlanta's growth as a center of international business has made haute cuisine and ethnic specialties extremely popular alternatives to traditional southern fare.
Visitor Information: Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, 233 Peachtree St., NE, Ste. 100, Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404)521-6600; fax (404)577-3293. The Convention Bureau publishes a city guide especially for African Americans called Atlanta Heritage. A visitor center is located at Underground Atlanta.
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
While the Coca-Cola Company wields considerable influence in Atlanta—much of it in areas outside its immediate manufacturing concerns—no single industry or firm truly dominates the local economy. Service industries employ the largest number of workers, but trade and manufacturing are also important elements. Having such diversity, Atlanta has been slower to suffer a downturn and quicker to recover from any temporary setback than many other major American cities. In fact, metropolitan Atlanta saw a decrease in unemployment and an increase in its labor force between 2002–2003 despite the country's economic recession during that time period.
In 2000, 24 Fortune 1000 corporations were headquartered in metropolitan Atlanta. Atlanta is home to BellSouth, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, UPS, and Georgia-Pacific, among other big names.
The Atlanta MSA added more than 1.1 million new residents between 1990–2000, which has attracted more and more new businesses. Metropolitan Atlanta has consistently led the nation in new housing permits every year since 1991, leading the way in 2003 with 53,750 new permits, according to Bureau of Census figures. In 1991, according to the National Association of Home Builders, the number was nearly 25,000; in comparison, 2002 topped off at 66,550.
Efforts by Georgia Tech and local industry to make Atlanta a high-tech center are paying off; even though much of the technology field suffered losses, Atlanta held steady and was ranked third in 2003 among the top ten metropolitan areas in this field by the Milken Institute. Atlanta is also becoming a leading world center of business and trade. More than 1,300 foreign-based businesses have operations in metropolitan Atlanta, and they employ more than 81,000 residents.
Items and goods produced: metals, machinery, transportation, equipment, food and beverages, printing, publishing, textiles, apparel, furniture, telecommunications hardware, steel, chemicals
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
Georgia has the reputation for being a strong pro-business state. Many new companies have relocated to metro Atlanta and have either built new facilities or converted vacant office space. The various local and state business incentives offered have encouraged these company moves as well as expansions of local firms.
Atlanta was an empowerment zone city named by the Clinton administration, but in 2002 it converted to a "Renewal Community" allowing the city to benefit from a nationwide pot of $17 billion in tax incentives. Businesses within the three "renewal clusters" that were created receive tax credits and deductions, capital gains exclusives, and bond financing.
Georgia has business-friendly tax laws; the state does not use the unitary tax method, but instead taxes businesses only on income apportioned to Georgia. In addition, at four percent the state sales tax rate has risen only one percentage point since 1951. Attractive inventory tax exemptions are available in all metropolitan Atlanta counties, and sales and property tax exemptions are available for certain pollution control equipment used in production. Georgia's Freeport zones, like Atlanta's, exempt for ad valorem taxation all or part of the value of certain tangible property held in certain inventories. Companies can apply for a permit from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division which can result in their obtaining their federal permit as well, via a single application.
Job training programs
The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education administers the Georgia Quick Start program, a three-way partnership between Quick Start, one of the state's technical institutions, and a company wishing to start up business in Georgia via 34 technical colleges and institutes, 4 associated university programs, and 18 satellite campuses. By developing and implementing high quality customized training programs and materials, Quick Start assists the company in obtaining a trained work force ready to begin as soon as the company opens for business. In addition, metro Atlanta's 43 colleges and universities provide a continuing supply of educated and ready-to-work graduates.
The staging of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta had a tremendous impact on development that extends today. More than $2 billion was spent on new construction, sporting arenas, entertainment venues, and beautification projects in preparation for the games. Another $100 million was spent on hotel renovations and expansions. The downtown area received the lion's share of the improvements as the city furthered its goal of becoming world class. Buildings were leveled and 21 acres were cleared to create the $57 million Centennial Olympic Park, which now serves as the centerpiece of downtown Atlanta. Following the Olympics, the city was left with several other multimillion-dollar sporting venues, including Turner Field, now home to the Atlanta Braves; the Georgia International Horse Park; and the Stone Mountain Tennis Center. While all of the Olympics-related construction was going on, downtown living was making a comeback with the construction of new housing units. In December 2004 Centennial Park West, which began building in 1999–2000, sold three of its million-dollar penthouse suites leaving it only four short of sellout. This property is part of Legacy Property Group, LLC who has also been involved in a 435,000 square foot, $100 million hotel and residential development that has brought the downtown area an Embassy Suites Hotel and several fine dining restaurants.
Meanwhile, in midtown Atlanta, the redevelopment of a 145-acre site (formerly a steel mill) as a community of homes, offices, shops, and hotels connected to surrounding areas by bicycle lanes, walking paths, and public transportation has been designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a national model for innovative development that improves air quality. This designation allows developers to build a bridge across I-75/85, connecting midtown to areas west of the Downtown Connector.
Atlanta has long been the center of business activity and development in the Southeast. In October 2004 Cousins Properties Inc. announced leases with three companies to occupy the new building of a 31-story, 500,000 square foot office tower. Construction on a new headquarters building for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to be completed in 2005 with an estimated cost of $81 million for the 12-story, 360,000 square foot facility. In February 2005 CSX Transportation opened its $8 million technology-driven training center to future engineers, conductors, and other technicians.
Economic Development Information: Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, 235 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404)880-9000
An extensive array of air, rail, and truck connections makes Atlanta a city with a robust cargo industry. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the main focus of activity. A Foreign Trade Zone located near the airport at the Atlanta Tradeport provides companies with an opportunity to delay, reduce, or eliminate customs duty on imported items, while the U.S. Customs Service Model Inland Port is a highly computerized center designed to expedite quick clearance for international freight.
The railroad, for so long crucial to Atlanta's well-being, continues to serve the city through two major systems, CSX and Norfolk Southern, which operate more than 100 freight trains in and out of the city daily. In 2003 the Association of American Railroads named Atlanta as its first "Freight Rail Smart Zone" as two million railcars transport vast amounts of consumer goods throughout the region. Several hundred motor freight carriers also offer their services in Atlanta, as do many other carriers that transport only their own products.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Atlanta enjoys an expanding labor pool derived from the surrounding counties and from people coming to the city from other parts of the country and the world. Skilled laborers are more than willing to relocate to Atlanta. Wages have been the fastest-growing in the country; that trend is predicted to continue for the next 20 to 30 years as Atlanta creates more high quality jobs.
According to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2000, between 1998-2025 metropolitan Atlanta is projected to gain 1.8 million net new jobs becoming the new hub for high-tech companies—some call it the "Silicon Valley of the South." Atlanta led the list of "Top 25 Cities for Doing Business in America" by Inc. magazine in March 2004; specifically mentioned was its diverse economic structure.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Atlanta metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 2,158,600
Number of workers employed in . . .
natural resources and mining: 1,800
trade, transportation and utilities: 492,000
financial activities: 148,000
professional and business services: 337,900
educational and health services: 213,100
leisure and hospitality: 200,700
other services: 94,000
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.29
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
|Largest employers||Number of employees|
|U.S. Postal Service||16,099|
|Emory University (including hospitals)||13,619|
|Cobb County School District||12,372|
|U.S. Army Garrison Headquarters||10,485|
|Home Depot Inc.||9,652|
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Atlanta area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $247,229
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 98.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 6.0%
State sales tax rate: 4.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: Atlanta metropolitan counties levy taxes up to 3%
Property tax rate: $17.86 (within city) per $1,000 of fair market value) (2003)
Economic Information: Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, 235 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404)880-9000
ATLANTA. Probably the only major city in the United States named after a hotel—the Atlanta, erected in 1847—after the small town had already gone through two incarnations as Terminus (1837) and Marthasville (1843), Atlanta has never relinquished its unabashed boosterism. In 1860, just two decades beyond its founding, the city already boasted ten thousand residents. Temporarily thwarted by a swath of destruction during the Civil War, the nascent railroad junction quickly rebounded as local newspaperman Henry W. Grady touted the city to any and all comers and, in the process, authored the New South Creed, a wide-ranging blueprint for economic recovery in a region devastated by the Civil War. Whatever the disappointments of these plans for the South as a whole, Atlantans embraced the main chance, and by 1900 rendered their city the primary commercial center of the Southeast and a key distribution point for the rest of the region. By that time an impressive downtown skyline was rising in an area known as Five Points, and Coca-Cola, headquartered in Atlanta, was well on its way to becoming a national drink.
The city's turn-of-the-century prosperity masked racial tensions. In the decades after the Civil War, a prosperous black middle class had evolved, but segregation, disfranchisement, and the surge in lynching during the
1890s threatened its advances. Whites resented black prosperity and success. These tensions culminated in a vicious race riot in 1906. Despite these setbacks, a vibrant black community continued to grow in an area centered around Sweet Auburn, south and west of the city center. Here black businesses and black churches flourished, albeit within the confines of a rigid Jim Crow society. Black leaders such as the educator John Hope, the businessmen Heman Perry and Alonzo Herndon, and, later, the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. emerged from this district. During the 1920s, with city planning in vogue across the nation, zoning and land use policies further divided the city into black and white areas. This was also the decade when Atlanta became national headquarters for a revived Ku Klux Klan.
Atlanta attained more positive national recognition in 1939 when Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel, Gone with the Wind, was adapted for the screen and the city hosted its world premiere. The movie, along with "the world's largest painting," Cyclorama of the Battle of Atlanta, and the incomplete likenesses of Jefferson Davis, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and Robert E. Lee etched into Stone Mountain fixed Atlanta as a Confederate shrine, a view that seemingly contradicted its New South image but in truth served to mask the more raw forms of boosterism
and racial intolerance. By the 1950s Atlanta was the self-styled "city too busy to hate."
"Busyness" indeed characterized Atlanta during the first half of the twentieth century. By the 1940s the city had surpassed its last major rival, Birmingham, Alabama, most particularly with the growth of what became Harts-field International Airport. Atlanta also evolved into an important center for higher education. Atlanta University (1867) emerged as one of the key institutions of black higher education in the nation; Georgia Tech (1888), Emory University (1836, relocated to Atlanta in 1915), and Georgia State University (1955) offered a variety of educational options for an increasingly cosmopolitan region. The High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Symphony spread a cultural patina over the booster image. It was not until the 1990s, however, that the city enjoyed excellent dining. Atlanta still lags behind Dallas, Miami, and certainly New Orleans in terms of culinary imagination.
The major postwar political change occurred in 1973 with the election of Maynard Jackson, son of a prominent black family, as mayor. Jackson's election reflected the growth of the city's black population, a demographic inevitability because, unlike other southern cities, Atlanta could no longer annex whites who had fled to the suburbs. The last major annexation occurred in 1952 with the addition of predominantly white Buckhead. School desegregation eventually became an unattainable objective; by the 1990s more than 80 percent of the school population was black, and a sharp divide emerged between an increasingly black city and mostly white suburbs, reflecting the intracity divisions that had existed since late in the nineteenth century. Even the extension of the public transport system, known as MARTA, became fraught with racial overtones in the 1990s.
While Atlanta began the twentieth century seeking regional dominance, the effort at the beginning of the twenty-first century focuses on becoming a "world-class city." The "city too busy to hate" has become the rather tepid "The World's Next Great City," a boast given some credibility by its hosting of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. As world headquarters of Cable News Network (CNN), Delta Airlines, and Coca-Cola, Atlanta indeed has a global reach. At the same time many of its problems, including black poverty, traffic gridlock, air pollution, and suburban sprawl, remain intractable as city and suburban leaders find few common areas of cooperation. The city's demographic and economic profile more nearly fits the struggling, declining cities of the Rust Belt rather than the Sun Belt ideal.
Bayor, Ronald H. Race and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Atlanta. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Preston, Howard L. Automobile Age Atlanta: The Making of a Southern Metropolis, 1900–1935. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1979.
Russell, James Michael. Atlanta, 1847–1890: City Building in the Old South and the New. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.
Rutheiser, Charles. Imagineering Atlanta: The Politics of Place in the City of Dreams. London and New York: Verso, 1996.
Atlanta: Education and Research
Atlanta: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Atlanta system is located in the city of Atlanta, as well as in unincorporated portions of Fulton and DeKalb Counties. Policies are formed by the nine-member Atlanta Board of Education, all elected positions. The Atlanta schools work closely with parents and local businesses to "stay the course and focus on student success," as Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, Ed.D. explained. Special programs within the Atlanta schools system include Early Childhood Development Centers, three planetariums, two teen parent programs, evening/community high schools and Alternate Schools, programs for exceptional children, exchange student programs, and the Atlanta Area Technical Schools.
Several schools have received state and national awards, including the 2003 National Blue Ribbon Award for Brandon Elementary, and Grove Park Elementary received a 2004 Georgia School of Excellence. In the state of Georgia, any student who graduates from high school with at least a B average is eligible for free college tuition and a $300 per academic book allowance at any of the state's colleges or universities. Those who choose a private college in Georgia get a $3,000 grant. The program is called HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally).
The following is a summary of data regarding Atlanta's public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 51,000
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 62
middle schools: 16
senior high schools: 10
other: 7 charter and 4 alternate schools
Student/teacher ratio: 14.2:1
Funding per pupil: $10,993 (2002-03)
More than 150 private schools also operate in the Atlanta area, ranging from residential preparatory institutions to church-affiliated programs. A number of private schools offer foreign language curriculums, including several Japanese schools, a German school and the Atlanta International School.
Public Schools Information: Atlanta Public Schools, Administrative Office, 130 Trinity Ave. S.W., Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404)802-3500
Colleges and Universities
Metropolitan Atlanta is home to 43 post-secondary institutions, including several of the most prestigious in the United States. They feature more than 300 programs of study and offer a variety of associate and undergraduate degrees, as well as graduate degrees in such fields as medicine, law, and theology. Among the city's principal schools are the 11,300-student body Emory University, nationally recognized for its business and medical research programs; Georgia Institute of Technology, with 16,000 students is famous for its research programs in dozens of different high-technology disciplines; and the Atlanta University Center, the largest assemblage of African American institutions in the world. The center is comprised of five colleges: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College, and the Inter-denominational Theological Seminary (it previously included a sixth member, Morris Brown College, which lost its accreditation in 2002). Other notable facilities in Atlanta include Georgia State University; Mercer University's Cecil B. Day Campus, its Stetson School of Business and Economics, and its Southern School of Pharmacy; Oglethorpe University; and Art Institute of Atlanta. The Atlanta Technical College offers more than 70 programs in a variety of fields including health and human services, information technology, and skilled trades. The metropolitan area also has large public two-year and four-year colleges to serve students, including Clayton College & State University and several schools that offer specialized vocational and religious instruction.
Libraries and Research Centers
In addition to a modern central library located downtown, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library operates 34 branches throughout the city and Fulton and DeKalb counties. The system's holdings include more than 2.1 million books, periodical subscriptions, films, and a large collection of compact discs, records, and audio- and videotapes. The Auburn Avenue Research Library, part of the public library system, is devoted to collecting materials on African American history and culture. Among Atlanta's several outstanding historical research libraries is the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum, dedicated to the former president. The University of Georgia Libraries hold more than 3.5 million books, and Emory University Libraries house more than 2.7 million books, 39,801 periodical subscriptions, 4.5 million microform units, and 15,653 film and video sources. The various campus libraries in Atlanta house special collections of material; many are open to the public for in-house reading and research.
Nearly 150 research centers are based in Atlanta, most of which are affiliated with either the Georgia Institute of Technology or Emory University. The topics under investigation are wide ranging; among them are health care, computers and software, bioengineering, economics, mining, biotechnology, business, women's studies, electronics, energy, pharmacology, cancer, and immunology.
Atlanta boasts four research centers of international renown. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies some of the world's deadliest diseases in maximum security laboratories. The Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center is the oldest continuously operated center for research on the biological and behavioral characteristics of nonhuman primates. Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is one of the country's premier bioengineering programs producing advances in prosthetics and engineered assistance for the disabled. Tech's Medical Informatics Research Group, part of Georgia Institute of Technology, Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center, explores the ways in which computer science methods and techniques can help solve problems in medicine and biomedicine. Affiliated with Emory University and founded in 1982 by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, The Carter Center focuses on global environmental, agricultural, economic, and public health concerns; its Task Force for Child Survival and Development addresses issues of immunization, malnutrition, disease control, and child advocacy.
Public Library Information: Atlanta-Fulton Central Library, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404)730-1700
City Develops as Trade Center
Until the early nineteenth century, the site near the Chattahoochee River where Atlanta is located (originally named the Standing Peach Tree for a peach tree on a small hill about seven miles away) was virgin territory sparsely occupied by Creek and Cherokee Native American tribes. The first permanent white settlers arrived during the War of 1812, when Fort Gilmer was built at the Standing Peach Tree. After the war, the land around Fort Gilmer was slowly settled by farmers from northern Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Then, in the late 1830s, the Western & Atlantic Railroad was constructed, connecting the Chattahoochee River with the town of Chattanooga to the north. The area thus became an important trade center, and a village soon developed at the southern end of the railroad. Initially called Terminus (after the word for the engineer's final stake) the village was chartered as Marthasville in 1843, then renamed Atlanta in 1845 and reincorporated in 1847.
By the end of the 1850s, the population of Atlanta had grown to 10,000 people (up from approximately 2,500 people in 1847), and the city had undergone extensive industrial development to become a railway hub, a vital trade link between North and South. Retaining the rough-and-tumble spirit of a frontier town, Atlanta had also progressed as a center of civilization and culture. When the Civil War broke out, Atlanta ceased trade with the North and was established as a Confederate military post. Because of its railroads and factories the city was a prime target, and it was bombarded by Union forces in July 1864.
The Battle of Atlanta was fierce. For a time Southern troops were able to defend the city, but military and civilian casualties from enemy shells and typhoid fever were high. The battle lost, the mayor, James Calhoun, and a few citizens surrendered on September 2, 1864. The fall of Atlanta was catastrophic. All civilians were evacuated, and 90 percent of the structures in the city were destroyed by Union Army General William T. Sherman's troops as they marched toward Georgia's Atlantic coast. Reconstruction began almost immediately after Sherman's army departed. Slowed by smallpox epidemics in 1865 and 1866 that forced the building of a temporary hospital, efforts to rebuild the city were nevertheless successful, and in 1868 Atlanta became the state capital (officially confirmed in 1877).
Atlanta Becomes a Major City
Expansion and growth continued through the nineteenth century and into the early decades of the twentieth, though the city was beset by periodic racial conflict. By 1920 the population of Atlanta had reached 200,000 people. The Great Depression brought more hard times, as it did throughout the country, but the city rose to meet the challenge of World War II. The transportation hub for the Southeast, Atlanta was one of the most important cities in the war effort.
After the war came renewed expansion in manufacturing, as well as a vital role in aviation. Having been a railroad center for most of its history, Atlanta was by the 1950s also the busiest and most important airline center in the South. In recent decades both the economy and cultural life have flourished, with Atlanta emerging as the major city of the "New South." While racial tension has troubled modern Atlanta, citizens have brought about a new spirit of cooperation and teamwork in the political process. Atlantans are optimistic about the future of their metropolis of more than four million inhabitants; a city that enjoys a nearly ideal climate and natural beauty, Atlanta has gained a momentum that promises continued growth and prosperity. Atlanta was the focus of world attention when it hosted the 1996 Centennial Summer Olympic Games. By most media accounts, the city has distinguished itself as world class and an economic leader. City leaders are buoyed by the trend back toward downtown living that has taken place in recent years. Business is thriving as many lucrative business projects are in development.
Atlanta's strength as a business community is reflected with its distinction as Inc. magazine's number one ranked city for doing business in America. Contributing to this is the dramatic growth of the metropolitan area's population between 1990–2000 of 38.9%, many of whom are employed at the wide variety of area corporations including two dozen on the Fortune 1000 list. The local economy is bolstered by the ldquo;the world's busiest passenger airport." of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Consumer goods find easy transport in the highly successful rail system.
Further, the area offers a vibrant arts scene along with beautiful parks and exciting activities. Many tourists are drawn to the historical significance of the area including its Civil War landmarks. This mix of history, tourism, job growth, and business opportunities all lends to the boundless prosperity that the area has enjoyed and its prospects for a bright future.
Historical Information: Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30305-1366; telephone (404)814-4000
Newspapers and Magazines
One major daily newspaper serves Atlantans: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The major weeklies include The Atlanta Bulletin, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and Mundo Hispanico (a Hispanic-oriented paper published since 1979). Numerous African American-oriented newspapers and magazines are published in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Daily World, Atlanta's oldest continuously published (since 1928) African American newspaper, and The Atlanta Inquirer. About 16 other daily, weekly, and biweekly newspapers are circulated throughout the metropolitan area, most of them focusing on county and community news, consumer affairs, and business topics. Atlanta Magazine and KNOW Atlanta Magazine cover life in the city. Many other monthly magazines based in Atlanta are targeted at specific business, medical, educational, and hobbyist markets.
Television and Radio
Seven television stations, including major network affiliates, one PBS, one commercial, and two independents, broadcast in the Atlanta area; cable service is also available. In the 1970s, Atlanta became a national media force when entrepreneur Ted Turner launched his independent "superstation" WTBS-TV Superstation and the Cable News Network (CNN), viewed by cable television subscribers across the United States. As for radio, 24 stations based in Atlanta offer news, public service programming, and a variety of musical formats to metropolitan listeners.
Media Information: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 72 Marietta St., NW Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404) 522-4141; Atlanta Magazine, 260 Peachtree St., Ste. 300, Atlanta, GA 30303; telephone (404)527-5500; fax (404)527-5575
AccessAtlanta (local news, entertainment listings, real estate information, and a section that covers the Atlanta-area technology scene). Available www.accessatlanta.com
Arts in Atlanta. Available www.artsinatlanta.org
Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.atlanta.com or www.acvb.com
Atlanta Daily World. Available www.AtlantaDailyWorld.com
Atlanta Downtown. Available www.atlantadowntown.com
Atlanta-Fulton County Library System. Available www.af.public.lib.ga.us/library
Atlanta History Center. Available www.atlhist.org
Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Available www.ajc.com
The Atlanta Nation (daily internet newspaper). Available www.atlantanation.com
Atlanta Public Schools. Available www.atlanta.k12.ga.us
City of Atlanta home page. Available www.atlantaga.gov
Fulton County home page. Available www.co.fulton.ga.us
Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce home page. Available www.metroatlantachamber.com
Allen, Frederick, Atlanta Rising: The Invention of an International City, 1946–1996 (Atlanta: Longstreet Press, 1996)
Craig, Robert M., and Richard Guy Wilson, Atlanta Architecture: Art Deco to Modern Classic, 1929–1959 (Gretna: Pelican, 1995)
Willard, Fred, Down on Ponce: A Novel (Atlanta, Ga.: Longstreet Press, 1997)
Atlanta: Population Profile
Atlanta: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990–2000: 38.9%
U.S. rank in 1980: 16th
U.S. rank in 1990: 12th
U.S. rank in 2000: 11th
2003 estimate: 423,019
Percent change, 1990–2000: 5.8%
U.S. rank in 1980: 29th
U.S. rank in 1990: 36th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 48th
Density: 3,161.2 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 255,689
American Indian and Alaska Native: 765
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 173
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 18,720
Percent of residents born in state: 58.5% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 26,666
Population 5 to 9 years old: 27,386
Population 10 to 14 years old: 25,023
Population 15 to 19 years old: 30,048
Population 20 to 24 years old: 39,157
Population 25 to 34 years old: 82,083
Population 35 to 44 years old: 64,632
Population 45 to 54 years old: 50,178
Population 55 to 59 years old: 17,164
Population 60 to 64 years old: 13,602
Population 65 to 74 years old: 20,855
Population 75 to 84 years old: 13,649
Population 85 years and older: 6,031
Median age: 31.9 years
Births (2003, Fulton County)
Total number: 13,013
Deaths (2003, Fulton County)
Total number: 5,917 (of which, 106 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $25,772
Median household income: $34,770
Total households: 168,341
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 28,669
$10,000 to $14,999: 12,267
$15,000 to $24,999: 23,191
$25,000 to $34,999: 20,403
$35,000 to $49,999: 21,704
$50,000 to $74,999: 23,819
$75,000 to $99,999: 12,859
$100,000 to $149,999: 12,398
$150,000 to $199,999: 4,475
$200,000 or more: 8,556
Percent of families below poverty level: 21.3% (56.8% of which were female householder families in poverty)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 49,451
Atlanta: Geography and Climate
Atlanta: Population Profile
Atlanta: Municipal Government
Atlanta: Education and Research
Atlanta: Health Care
Atlanta: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: circa 1837 (incorporated as Marthasville, 1843; reincorporated 1847)
Head Official: Mayor Shirley Franklin (D) (since 2002)
2003 estimate: 423,019
Percent change, 1990–2000: 5.8%
U.S. rank in 1980: 29th
U.S. rank in 1990: 36th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 48th
Metropolitan Area Population
Percent change, 1990–2000: 38.9%
U.S. rank in 1980: 16th
U.S. rank in 1990: 12th
U.S. rank in 2000: 11th
Area: 132 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 1,010 feet above sea level
Average Annual Temperature: 64.2° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 50.77 inches
Major Economic Sectors: wholesale and retail trade, services, government
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
Per Capita Income: $25,772 (1999)
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $247,229
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 98.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 49,451
Major Colleges and Universities: Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta University Center, Georgia State University
Daily Newspaper: Atlanta Journal-Constitution