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Atlanta, Georgia

For other cities named Atlanta please see Atlanta (disambiguation)

Atlanta is the capital and largest city of the state of Georgia, a state of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 416,474. It is the county seat of Fulton County, and was the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

The city of Atlanta operates the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, one of two airports considered the busiest in the world.

This city is the principal city of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.

The Atlanta flag

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography and Climate
3 Demographics
4 Surrounding Areas
5 Business
6 Colleges and Universities
7 Sports Teams
8 Further Reading
9 Major Attractions
10 Skyscrapers
11 External Links
12 Sources


Atlanta is the fifth city to serve as state capital, after colonial Savannah, which later alternated with Augusta; then for a decade at Louisville, and from 1806 through the Civil War at Milledgeville. The state legislature also met at other temporary sites, including Macon.

The region where Atlanta and its suburbs were built was originally Creek and Cherokee ("indian") territory. After they were deported to Oklahoma along the Trail of Tears by the Federal government, white settlement in this area increased rapidly.

Atlanta was first planned in 1836 as a terminus on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, hence the original name, Terminus. The railroad terminus for lines connecting from Birmingham, Chattanooga, Macon, Athens, etc. was originally intended to be in Decatur, but the citizens of Decatur did not want a railroad terminal. So an arbitrary spot was picked, around which the village of Terminus grew up in expectation of railroad traffic. The name "Atlanta" dates officially from 1847, by which time several of the railroad lines were already in operation.

In 1864, the city became the target of a major Union invasion in the American Civil War and scene of the Battle of Atlanta, later immortalized in the novel and film Gone With the Wind. On September 1, 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood evacuated Atlanta after a four month siege mounted by Union General William T. Sherman, and ordered all public buildings and possible union assests destroyed. Forces under General Sherman entered Atlanta the next day and Sherman ordered the civilian population to evacuate on September 7. General Sherman ordered Atlanta burned to the ground on November 11 in preparation for his punitive march south. The remainder of war resources were then destroyed in the aftermath and in Sherman's March to the Sea. The fall of Atlanta is seen as the most critical point in the Civil War, giving the North more confidence, leading to the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and the eventual surrender of the South.

Despite these romantic associations, Atlanta has always been a commercial city, and not an ante-bellum monument. It is the major center of regional commerce, and boasts an especially strong convention and trade show business. Several major national and international companies are headquartered in Atlanta or its nearby suburbs, including United Parcel Service in Sandy Springs and home-grown Home Depot. Newell Rubbermaid has also recently announced plans to move to the area as well. Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus is also donating more than 200 million dollars to build the new Georgia Aquarium between Underground Atlanta and Centennial Olympic Park. Atlanta also has its own Flatiron Building, built before (1897) the more well-known one in New York City (1902).

On the north side of the city near Midtown, the former Atlantic Steel plant is being redevloped as Atlantic Station, a mixed-use project combining housing, retail, and office space, and promoted as one solution to Atlanta's ever more serious traffic and summer smog problems. The metro area has one of the world's longest daily commutes, and is one of the most car-dependent cities on the planet, both due to suburban sprawl, and lack of large nearby lakes or mountains to compress growth. It also has a notorious reputation as being one of the most dangerous for pedestrians, as far back as 1949, when Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell was struck by a speeding car and killed while crossing Peachtree at the corner of Thirteenth, near her home The Dump (now a museum open to the public) [1].

The city is a major cable television programming source; the CNN Center headquarters of the Cable News Network is in Atlanta, where it was founded, and The Weather Channel broadcasts from just outside of town. In addition to CNN, Ted Turner's (and now Time Warner's) other networks from Atlanta include Cartoon Network and companion channel Boomerang, TNT, Turner South, CNN International, CNN Headline News, CNNfn, CNN Airport Network, and TBS. Atlanta's WTBS-TV channel 17 was Turner's start in television in the 1970s, after he bought the struggling UHF TV station, turning it into a profitable venture which still broadcasts "Superstation" TBS locally and nationally.

One of its most important features however is the fact that it was one of the major centers of the American civil rights movement in the 1960's. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was born in the city, and his boyhood home on Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn district is preserved by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site. Meetings with other civil rights leaders, including Hosea Williams and current Congressman John Lewis, often happened at Paschal's, a diner and motor inn which was a favorite for "colored" people, banned from "white" restaurants in an era of racial segregation and intolerance. King's final resting place is in the tomb at the center of the reflecting pool at The King Center.

Geography and Climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 343.0 km² (132.4 mi²). 341.2 km² (131.8 mi²) of it is land and 1.8 km² (0.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.51% water.

At more than 1000 feet or 300 meters above mean sea level, Atlanta is third in elevation to slightly higher Phoenix and mile-high Denver among major American cities, sitting atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River. Though now somewhat offset by the urban heat island effect, this still results in a climate slightly more moderate than many other cities in the Southern US, despite its common nickname as "Hotlanta". Its central avenue, Peachtree Street, runs through the center of the city on the Eastern Continental Divide, so that rainwater on the east side runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean while rainwater on the west side of the street runs into the Gulf of Mexico.

The latter is via the Chattahoochee River, part of the ACF River Basin, and from which Atlanta and many of its neighbors draw most of their municipal water supplies. Being at the far northwestern edge of the city limits, much of the river's natural habitat is still preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Downstream however, the area's excessive water use and pollution during droughts has been a source of contention and legal wrangling.

Average annual rainfall is about 54 inches or 137cm, typically with late winter and spring being the wettest and fall being the driest. Average annual snowfall is about 1.5 inches or 3.8cm, falling mostly in January and early February. Snow (or ice) occasionally occurs as early as December or as late as mid-March; since 1878 snow or flurries has fallen only three times in October and four in April. Winters are mild, with January daily lows (minimums) near freezing and highs (maximums) near 50°F or 10°C. Summers are somewhat hot and humid, with July mornings near 70°F or 11°C and afternoons near 88°F or 31°C, slight breezes, and typically a 20~30% chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Spring weather is typically very pleasant but quite variable, as cold fronts often bring strong or severe thunderstorms to almost all of the eastern and central U.S. The rain helps wash out Atlanta's abundant oak and pine tree pollens however, and fuels beautiful blooms from native dogwood trees, as well as vibrant azaleas, forsythias, magnolias, and of course peach trees, both flowering-only and fruiting. This city-wide display runs during all of March and April, and inspires the Dogwood Festival, one of Atlanta's largest. Fall is also quite pleasant, with less rain and fewer storms, lower humidity, and beautiful leaves changing colors from late October to mid-November, especially during drier years.

The heart of the city's nature and its festivals is Piedmont Park, which is to Atlanta what Central Park is to New York City. In 1887, a group of prominent Atlantans purchased 189 acres of farmland to build a horse racing track, later developed into the site of the Cotton States International Exposition of 1895. In 1904, the city council purchased the land for $99,000, and today it is the largest park in metro Atlanta, with more than 2.5 million visitors each year. The grounds were part of the Battle at Peachtree Creek – a Confederate division occupied the northern edge on July 20, 1864 as part of the outer defense line against Sherman's approach. Other notable events were the first intercollegiate football game in the South, Auburn vs. Georgia in 1892, and the international debut of motion pictures in 1895. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is currently located next to the park, and Zoo Atlanta is located in Grant Park.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 416,474 people, 168,147 households, and 83,232 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,220.5/km² (3,161.2/mi²). There are 186,925 housing units at an average density of 547.8/km² (1,418.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 33.22% White, 61.39% African American, 0.18% Native American, 1.93% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.99% from other races, and 1.24% from two or more races. 4.49% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 168,147 households out of which 22.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 24.5% are married couples living together, 20.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 50.5% are non-families. 38.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.30 and the average family size is 3.16.

In the city the population is spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 35.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $34,770, and the median income for a family is $37,231. Males have a median income of $36,162 versus $30,178 for females. The per capita income for the city is $25,772. 24.4% of the population and 21.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 38.8% are under the age of 18 and 20.7% are 65 or older.

Surrounding Areas

See also: Atlanta Metropolitan Area


There are many major businesses who were founded or have their headquarters in Atlanta. Here is a list of the major ones.

World Airways is headquartered in the suburb of Peachtree City.

Colleges and Universities

Atlanta is home to numerous educational institutions: Emory University, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and Agnes Scott College as well as a cluster of historically black institutions including Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.

Sports Teams

Major League Baseball: Atlanta Braves
American football, National Football League: Atlanta Falcons
Basketball, National Basketball Association: Atlanta Hawks
Hockey, National Hockey League: Atlanta Thrashers
Soccer, Women's United Soccer Association: Atlanta Beat

Further Reading

Major Attractions


In recent years, Atlanta has become a haven for tall buildings. Here is a list of the ten tallest:

  1. Bank of America Plaza [1]
  2. SunTrust Plaza [1]
  3. One Atlantic Center (the "IBM Building") [1]
  4. 191 Peachtree Tower [1]
  5. Westin Peachtree Plaza [1]
  6. Georgia Pacific Tower [1]
  7. Promenade II [1]
  8. BellSouth Building [1]
  9. Four Seasons Hotel [1]
  10. Wachovia Bank of Georgia [1]

The Marriott Marquis Hotel [1] is also notable for its bulging base, and is therefore often jokingly known as the "pregnant building" for its odd shape. More about Atlanta's buildings can be found at

A 614 meter skyscraper dubbed the "Atlanta Tower" had been proposed. The idea was rejected, though, because it would have dwarfed the surrounding skyline. It was to contain 130 stories of office space. The idea never got far enough for the design to be released to the public. Two good design ideas can be found at [ this page.

External Links