Atlanta, Georgia

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: North American Geography

Atlanta, Georgia
The Atlanta skyline at night
The Atlanta skyline at night
Official flag of Atlanta, Georgia
Official seal of Atlanta, Georgia
Flag Seal
Nickname: "Hotlanta, The Big Peach, The ATL, A-Town"
Location in Fulton County in the state of Georgia
Location in Fulton County in the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 33°45′18″N, 84°23′24″W
Country United States
State Georgia
Counties Fulton, Dekalb
Mayor Shirley Franklin ( D)
 - City 343.0 km²  (132.4  sq mi)
 - Land 341.2 km²  (131.8 sq mi)
 - Water 1.8 km² (0.7 sq mi)
Elevation 225-320 m
 - City (2005) 470,688
 - Density 1,221/km²
 - Urban 4,708,297
 - Metro 4,949,121
Time zone EST ( UTC-5)
 - Summer ( DST) EDT ( UTC-4)

Atlanta ( IPA: /ˌætˈlɛ̃n.nə/ or /ˌɛtˈlɛ̃n.nə/) is the capital and the most populous city of the State of Georgia, and the central city of the ninth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. It is the county seat of Fulton County, although a portion of the city extends into DeKalb County. According to the July 2005 census estimate, the city has a population of 470,688 and a metropolitan population of 4,917,717. As of July 1, 2005, Atlanta's combined statistical area (CSA) is estimated to have a population of 5,249,121.

A major city in its own right, Atlanta is considered a poster child for cities world wide experiencing rapid urban sprawl, economic development and growth. In the last decade, the Atlanta metropolitan area added over 1,150,000 residents – the fourth-largest gain in absolute numbers of any metropolitan area in the United States. Atlanta is recognized as one of the driving forces of the "New South," and has in recent years, along with Houston, Miami and Dallas, undergone a transition from a city of regional commerce to a city of international influence.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta stood apart from Southern cities that supported segregation, and became known as the "City Too Busy to Hate." The city's progressive civil rights record made it increasingly popular as a relocation destination for African Americans, and the city's population became majority-black by 1972. African Americans soon became the dominant political force in the city; since 1974, all of the mayors of Atlanta have been African-American, as well as the majority of the city's fire chiefs, police chiefs, and other high-profile government officials. White flight occurred in the city in the 1970s and 1980s; the city's population dropped by more than 100,000 from 1970 to 1990. That trend has reversed itself, however, and with accelerating gentrification, the black majority has dropped from 69 percent in 1980 to 54 percent in 2005.

Common nicknames for the city include A Town, The A-T-L (derived from its IATA airport code), the Big Peach, and Hotlanta.


The region where Atlanta and its suburbs were built was originally Creek and Cherokee Native American territory. The Creek land in the eastern part of the metro area (including Decatur) was opened to white settlement in 1823. In 1835, leaders of the Cherokee nation ceded their land to the government in exchange for land out west under the Treaty of New Echota, an act that eventually led to the Trail of Tears.

In 1836 the Georgia General Assembly voted to build the Western and Atlantic Railroad to provide a trade route to the Midwest, with the area around Atlanta--then called Terminus--serving as the terminal. The terminus was originally planned for Decatur, but its citizens did not want it. Besides Decatur, several other suburbs of Atlanta predate the city by several years, including Marietta and Lawrenceville.

Terminus grew as a railroad town; later it was renamed Marthasville after then-Governor Wilson Lumpkin's daughter Martha. Marthasville was renamed Atlanta in 1845 (a feminized version of Atlantic suggested by J. Edgar Thomson) and was incorporated as such in 1847.

A slave auction house on Whitehall St.
A slave auction house on Whitehall St.

In 1864, the city became the target of a major Union invasion (the subject of the 1939 film Gone with the Wind). The area now covered by Atlanta was the scene of several battles, including the Battle of Peachtree Creek, the Battle of Atlanta, and the Battle of Ezra Church. 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 assets destroyed. The next day, mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city, and on September 7 Sherman ordered the civilian population to evacuate. His forces occupied the city for several months, and he then ordered Atlanta burned to the ground on November 11 in preparation for his punitive march south. After a plea by Father Thomas O'Reilly of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Sherman did not burn the city's churches or hospitals. The remaining war resources were then destroyed in the aftermath and in Sherman's March to the Sea. The fall of Atlanta was a critical point in the Civil War, giving the North more confidence, and (along with the Battle of Mobile Bay) leading to the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and the eventual surrender of the Confederacy.

The city emerged from the ashes – hence the city's symbol, the phoenix – and was gradually rebuilt. It soon became the industrial and commercial centre of the South. From 1867 until 1888, U.S. Army soldiers occupied McPherson Barracks (later renamed Fort McPherson) in southwest Atlanta to ensure Reconstruction era reforms. To help the newly freed slaves, the federal government set up a Freedmen's Bureau, which helped establish what is now Clark Atlanta University, one of several historically black colleges in Atlanta.

In 1868, Atlanta became the fifth city to serve as the state capital. Henry W. Grady, the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, promoted the city to investors as a city of the "New South", by which he meant a diversification of the economy away from agriculture and a shift from the " Old South" attitudes of slavery and rebellion. As part of the effort to modernize the South, Grady and many others also supported the creation of the Georgia School of Technology (now the Georgia Institute of Technology), which was founded on the city's northern outskirts in 1885.

In 1880, Sister Cecilia Carroll, RSM, and three companions traveled from Savannah, Georgia to Atlanta to minister to the sick. With just 50 cents in their collective purse, the sisters opened the Atlanta Hospital, the first medical facility in the city after the Civil War. This later became known as Saint Joseph's Hospital.

In 1907, Peachtree Street, the main street of Atlanta, was busy with streetcars and automobiles.
In 1907, Peachtree Street, the main street of Atlanta, was busy with streetcars and automobiles.

As Atlanta grew, ethnic and racial tensions mounted. The Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 left at least 27 dead and over seventy injured. In 1913, Leo Frank, a Jewish supervisor at an Atlanta factory, was put on trial for raping and murdering a thirteen-year old white employee. After doubts about Frank's guilt led his death sentence to be commuted in 1915, riots broke out in Atlanta and Frank was lynched.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression hit Atlanta. With the city government nearing bankruptcy, the Coca-Cola Company had to help bail out the city's deficit. The federal government stepped in to help Atlantans by establishing Techwood Homes, the nation's first federal housing project in 1935. With the entry of the United States into World War II, soldiers from around the Southeastern United States went through Atlanta to train and later be discharged at Fort McPherson. War-related manufacturing such as the Bell Aircraft factory in the suburb of Marietta helped boost the city's population and economy. Shortly after the war in 1946, the Communicable Disease Centre, later called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was founded in Atlanta from the old Malaria Control in War Areas offices and staff.

In 1951, the city received the All-America City Award, due to its rapid growth and high standard of living in the southern U.S.

In the wake of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which helped usher in the Civil Rights Movement, racial tensions in Atlanta began to express themselves in acts of violence. For example, on October 12, 1958, a Reform Jewish temple on Peachtree Street was bombed. The "Confederate Underground" claimed responsibility. Many believed that Jews, especially those from the northeast, were advocates of the Civil Rights Movement.

In the 1960s, Atlanta was a major organizing centre of the US Civil Rights Movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King and students from Atlanta's historically black colleges and universities playing major roles in the movement's leadership. On October 19, 1960, a sit-in at the lunch counters of several Atlanta department stores led to the arrest of Dr. King and several students, drawing attention from the national media and from presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. Despite this incident, Atlanta's political and business leaders fostered Atlanta's image as "the city too busy to hate". In 1961, Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. became one of the few Southern white mayors to support desegregation of Atlanta's public schools. While the city mostly avoided confrontation, small race riots did occur in 1965 and in 1968.

In 1990, the International Olympic Committee selected Atlanta as the site for the Centennial Olympic Games 1996 Summer Olympics. Following the announcement, Atlanta undertook several major construction projects to improve the city's parks, sports facilities, and transportation. Former Mayor Bill Campbell allowed many "tent cities" to be built, creating a carnival atmosphere around the games. Atlanta became the third American city to host the Olympics, after St. Louis and Los Angeles, which hosted the 1904 games, 1932 games and the 1984 games. The games themselves were notable in the realm of sporting events, but they were marred by numerous organizational inefficiencies as well as the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, which resulted in the death of one person and injured several others. Much later it was determined that the bombing was carried out by North Carolinian Eric Robert Rudolph as an anti-government and pro-life protest.

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 about 1050 feet or 320 meters above mean sea level (the airport is 1010 feet), Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River. Amongst the 25 largest MSAs, Atlanta is the fourth-highest in elevation, slightly lower than Pittsburgh (the city itself is higher than downtown Pittsburgh, however) and Phoenix, but significantly lower than Denver (1 mile or 1,600 m).

According to folklore, its central avenue, Peachtree Street, runs through the centre of the city on the Eastern Continental Divide. In actuality, the divide line enters Atlanta from the southwest, proceeding to downtown. From downtown, the divide line runs eastward along DeKalb Avenue and the CSX rail lines through Decatur. Rainwater that falls on the south and east side runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean while rainwater on the north and west side of the divide runs into the Gulf of Mexico.

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 water. Being at the far northwestern edge of the city, much of the river's natural habitat is still preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Downstream however, excessive water use during droughts and pollution during floods has been a source of contention and legal battles with neighboring states Alabama and Florida.


Panoramic view of the central Atlanta skyline, spanning Midtown (left) and Downtown (right)
Panoramic view of the central Atlanta skyline, spanning Midtown (left) and Downtown (right)

Atlanta has a prominent skyline, punctuated with highrises and comprising buildings of modern and postmodern vintage. Its tallest landmark – the Bank of America Plaza – is the 20th-tallest building in the world at 1,023 feet, and the newest skyscraper in America to have been one of the ten tallest buildings on Earth.

The city centre actually contains two distinct skylines. The central business district, clustered around the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel – the tallest building in Atlanta at the time of its completion in 1976 – also includes the newer 191 Peachtree Tower, SunTrust Plaza, Georgia-Pacific Tower, and the low-slung buildings of Peachtree Centre. Midtown Atlanta, farther north, developed rapidly after the completion of One Atlantic Centre in 1987 established the neighborhood as a centre of commercial development. The skylines meet at the Bank of America Plaza, which sits at the border of downtown and midtown on North Avenue.

The influx of business to Midtown has continued – the district's newest tower, 1180 Peachtree, opened in 2006 at a height of 645 feet, and won a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Award that year from the U.S. Green Building Council. Atlanta has been in the midst of a highrise construction and retail boom, with over 60 new highrise buildings either proposed or under construction as of April 19, 2006. October 2005 marked the opening of Atlantic Station, a former brownfield steel plant site redeveloped into a mixed-use urban district. In early 2006, Mayor Franklin set in motion a plan to make the 14-block stretch of Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta (nicknamed "Midtown Mile") a street-level shopping destination envisioned to rival Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive or Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

In spite of civic efforts such as the opening of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown in 1996, Atlanta ranks near last in acreage of park land per capita among cities of similar population density, with 8.9 acres per thousand residents in 2005. The city has a reputation, however, as a "city of trees" or a "city in a forest"; beyond the central Atlanta and Buckhead business districts, the skyline gives way to a sometimes dense canopy of woods that spreads into the suburbs.

The city's northern section, Buckhead, is consistently ranked by the Robb Report as one of the most affluent communities in the United States, comparable to Los Angeles' Bel-Air and Manhattan's Upper East Side. Since the opening of the intown segment of the Georgia 400 tollway linked the district to the city superhighway system in the early 1990s, Buckhead has developed a dense commercial district, clustered around the high-end retail centers at Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza and including a growing number of office buildings and residential highrises. Viewed from certain angles, the Buckhead skyline can blend into those of downtown and midtown to the south.

The edge cities clustered around Perimeter Mall and Cumberland Mall have distinct skylines of their own. The Concourse at Landmark Centre, located near Perimeter Mall in Sandy Springs, includes a pair of buildings that each measure 570 feet in total height.

The sprawling layout of the Atlanta region has resulted in serious traffic and air quality problems. The metro area has one of America's longest average daily commutes, and is one of the most car-dependent cities on the planet due both to suburban sprawl and underfunded mass transit systems. It also has a 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 as she was crossing the street to the premiere of her movie at Lowe's Theatre.


Atlanta has a humid subtropical climate, (Cfa) according to the Köppen classification, with hot, humid summers and mild winters by the standards of the United States.

The summers are hot and humid, with afternoon highs peaking at about 90°F (32°C) in late July. Temperatures can also exceed 100°F (38°C) in a major heat wave. The highest temperature recorded in the city is 105°F (40.6°C), reached on July 13 and July 17, 1980.

January is the coldest month, with an average high of 52°F (11°C), and low of 33°F (1°C). Warm fronts can bring springlike temperatures in the 60s in winter, and arctic air masses can drop temperatures into the low teens as well. An average year sees frost on 48 days; snowfall averages 2 inches (5 centimeters) annually. The heaviest single storm brought 10 inches on January 23, 1940. The lowest temperature recorded in the city is -9°F (-22°C), reached on 13 February 1899. A close second was -8°F on 21 January 1985. The frequent ice storms can cause more problems than snow; the most severe such storm may have occurred on January 7, 1973.

Like the rest of the Southeastern U.S., Atlanta receives abundant rainfall, which is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year. Average annual rainfall is 50.5 inches (127 centimeters).

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 52 (11) 57 (14) 65 (18) 73 (23) 80 (27) 87 (31) 89 (32) 88 (31) 82 (28) 73 (23) 63 (17) 55 (13) 72 (22)
Average low °F (°C) 33 (1) 37 (3) 45 (7) 50 (10) 59 (15) 66 (19) 72 (22) 70 (21) 64 (18) 54 (12) 45 (7) 34 (1) 51 (11)
Average rainfall: inches (millimeters) 5.03 (127.8) 4.68 (118.9) 5.38 (136.7) 3.62 (91.9) 3.95 (100.3) 3.63 (92.2) 5.12 (130.0) 3.63 (92.2) 4.09 (103.9) 3.11 (79.0) 4.10 (104.1) 3.82 (97.0) 50.16 (1274)


Atlanta population
Year City
1850 2,572
1860 9,554
1870 21,789
1880 37,409
1890 65,533
1900 89,872 419,375
1910 154,839 522,442
1920 200,616 622,283
1930 270,366 715,391
1940 302,288 820,579
1950 331,314 997,666
1960 487,455 1,312,474
1970 496,973 1,763,626
1980 425,022 2,233,324
1990 394,017 2,959,950
2000 416,474 4,112,198
2005 470,688 4,926,611

The census of 2000 states there are 416,474 people (470,688 in the July 2005 estimate), 168,147 households, and 83,232 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,221/km² (3,161/mi²). There are 186,925 housing units at an average density of 548/km² (1,419/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 61.39% Black, 33.22% White,1.93% Asian, 0.18% Native American, 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. The city has one of the largest gay populations in the nation; according to Census 2000 both DeKalb and Fulton counties are among the ten most heavily gay counties in America.

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 $51,482 and the median income for a family is $55,939. Males have a median income of $36,162 compared to $30,178 for females. The per capita income for the city is $29,772, and 24.4% of the population and 21.3% of families are below the poverty line. 38.8% of those under the age of 18 and 20.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

In July 2006, several neighborhoods in South Fulton county voted to join the city of Atlanta, which would become effective October 30, 2006. If these applications for annexation are accepted, this could add another 17,000 or so residents to the city and increase the land area as well.

According to a 2000 daytime population estimate by the Census Bureau, over 250,000 more people commute to Atlanta on any given workday, boosting the city's estimated daytime population at the time to 676,431. This is an increase of 62.4 percent over Atlanta's resident population – the second-largest daytime population swing in America among cities with more than 250,000 residents.

Law and government

Atlanta City Hall
Atlanta City Hall
Mayor of Atlanta: Shirley Franklin

Atlanta is governed by a mayor and a city council. The city council consists of 15 representatives—one from each of the city's twelve districts and three at-large positions. The mayor may veto a bill passed by the council, but the council can override the veto with a two-thirds majority. The current mayor of Atlanta is Shirley Franklin.

Possibly owing to the city's African American majority, each mayor elected since 1973 has been black. The uninterrupted string of black mayors in excess of thirty years is a first for any metropolitan area in the country. Maynard Jackson served two terms and was succeeded by Andrew Young in 1982. Jackson returned for a third term in 1990 and was succeeded by Bill Campbell. In 2001, Shirley Franklin became the first woman to be elected Mayor of Atlanta. She was re-elected for a second term in 2005, winning 90 percent of the vote. Atlanta city politics during the Campbell administration suffered from a notorious reputation for corruption, and in 2006 a federal jury convicted former mayor Bill Campbell on three counts of tax evasion in connection with gambling income he received while Mayor during trips he took with city contractors.

The Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta
The Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta

As the state capital, Atlanta is also the site of most of Georgia's state government, including the Georgia State Capitol (topped with gold from Dahlonega, Georgia)and constructed in 1886 houses the General Assembly. Atlanta is the residence of the Governor of Georgia in Buckhead. The "Governor's Mansion" is located on West Paces Ferry Road, in the heart of the up-scale residential community of Buckhead. Atlanta is also home to Georgia Public Broadcasting headquarters and Peachnet, and is the county seat of Fulton County, with which it shares responsibility for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.


For several decades, Atlanta had been among the most violent cities in North America but in recent years the city has reduced violent crime considerably. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, Atlanta recorded 90 homicides in 2005, down from 111 in 2004. Violent crime in 2005 was the lowest since 1969.

However, in 2005 Atlanta received media attention for the high-profile Brian Nichols manhunt, who became internationally known as the "Courthouse Killer". In addition, broadcast media focused attention on a standoff involving a murder suspect (not an Atlanta resident) who perched himself on top of a construction crane for several days in the upscale Buckhead district.

Surrounding cities

The town square in downtown Marietta, a Cobb County suburb of Atlanta
The town square in downtown Marietta, a Cobb County suburb of Atlanta

The population of the Atlanta region spreads across a metropolitan area of 8,376 square miles – a land area larger than that of six states. Because Georgia contains more counties than any other state east of the Mississippi River (an accident of history explained by the now-defunct county unit system of weighing votes in primary elections), area residents live under a heavily decentralized collection of governments. As of the 2000 census, only one in ten area residents lived inside Atlanta itself.

A 2006 survey by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce counted 140 cities and towns in the 28-county metropolitan statistical area in mid-2005. Three cities – one of them Atlanta's most populous suburb, Sandy Springs – have incorporated or won legislative approval for incorporation since then.

Atlanta's environs include the following suburbs, listed in order of population:

  • Sandy Springs: Pop. 85,781
  • Roswell: Pop. 79,338
  • Marietta: Pop. 58,748
  • Smyrna: Pop. 40,999
  • East Point: Pop. 39,595
  • Alpharetta: Pop. 35,139
  • Kennesaw: Pop. 30,522
  • Forest Park: Pop. 21,447
  • College Park: Pop. 20,382
  • Decatur: Pop. 18,147


Despite romantic associations in the public mind from Gone With the Wind and other pop cultural touchstones, Atlanta has always been more a commercial city than a reflection of the region's antebellum past. It is the major centre of commerce in the South, and boasts an especially strong convention and trade-show business.

One of seven American cities classified as Gamma world cities, Atlanta ranks third in the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in its metropolitan area, behind New York City and Houston. Several major national and international companies are headquartered in Atlanta or its nearby suburbs, including four Fortune 100 companies: The Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, BellSouth, and United Parcel Service in adjacent Sandy Springs. The headquarters of Cingular Wireless, the largest mobile phone service provider in the United States, can be found a short distance inside the Perimeter beside Georgia State Route 400. Newell Rubbermaid is one of the most recent companies to relocate to the metro area; in October 2006, it announced plans to move its headquarters to Sandy Springs. Over 75 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies have a presence in the Atlanta area, and the region hosts offices of about 1,250 multinational corporations.

Delta Air Lines claims Atlanta as home, and employs thousands through its hub operations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Delta hub, together with the hub of competing carrier AirTran Airways, has helped to make Hartsfield-Jackson the world's busiest airport, both in terms of passenger traffic and landings and takeoffs. The airport, since its construction in the 1950s, has served as a key engine of Atlanta's economic growth.

Much of the wealth created by local companies' growth has found itself reinvested in the region through philanthropy. Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus contributed more than $200 million dollars to build the new Georgia Aquarium near Centennial Olympic Park. Fellow Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons in 2002, and has pledged $35 million for construction of the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Atlanta Symphony Centre in Midtown. The late Coca-Cola executive Robert W. Woodruff established an Atlanta-based charitable foundation currently worth nearly $2 billion, and made a grant to Emory University in 1979 that at the time was the largest single contribution to a university endowment in American history. Roberto Goizueta also made substantial contributions to Emory University before his death; the business school there now bears his name.

Federal Reserve Bank in Midtown Atlanta.
Federal Reserve Bank in Midtown Atlanta.

While liberal banking laws in North Carolina permitted Charlotte to grow into the South's largest financial centre, Atlanta still has a sizable financial sector. SunTrust Banks, the ninth-largest bank by asset holdings in the United States, has its home office on Peachtree Street in downtown. The Federal Reserve System has a district headquarters in Atlanta; the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which oversees much of the deep South, relocated from downtown to midtown in 2001. Wachovia announced plans in August 2006 to place its new credit-card division in Atlanta, and city, state and civic leaders harbour long-term hopes of having the city serve as the home of the secretariat of a future Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The auto manufacturing sector in metropolitan Atlanta has suffered setbacks recently, including the planned closure of the General Motors Doraville Assembly plant in 2008, and the shutdown of Ford Motor Company's Atlanta Assembly plant in Hapeville in 2006. Together the closures mean the loss of 6,000 to 8,000 jobs in the Atlanta region. Kia, however, has broken ground on a new assembly plant near West Point, Georgia.

The Downtown Connector
The Downtown Connector

The city is a major cable television programming centre. Ted Turner began the Turner Broadcasting System media empire in Atlanta, where he bought a UHF station that eventually became WTBS. Turner established the headquarters of the Cable News Network at CNN Centre, adjacent today to Centennial Olympic Park. As his company grew, its other channels – the Cartoon Network (see also Adult Swim) and companion channel Boomerang, TNT, Turner South, CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN Headline News, and CNN Airport Network – centered their operations in Atlanta as well. The Weather Channel, owned by Landmark Communications, has its offices in the nearby suburb of Marietta.

Cox Enterprises – a privately held company controlled by billionaire siblings Barbara Cox Anthony and Anne Cox Chambers – has substantial media holdings in and beyond Atlanta. Its Cox Communications division is the nation's third-largest cable television service provider; the company also publishes over a dozen daily newspapers in the United States, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. WSB – the flagship station of Cox Radio – was the first AM radio station in the South; its call letters stand for "Welcome South, Brother."

Atlanta has also reached the city's second high-rise boom in its history. According to Emporis, 45 new high-rises are currently proposed for the city's Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead Districts. 16 high-rises have been approved for construction, while 16 are currently under construction. Much of the development is due to recent residential growth, a shortage of office space, and inadequate hotel capacity.


Colleges and universities

Georgia Tech Tower
Georgia Tech Tower

Atlanta has more than 30 institutions of higher education, among which Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology (popularly known as Georgia Tech), Georgia State University, and Oglethorpe University are prominent. Atlanta University Centre, a consortium of historically black colleges and universities, is also located in the city; members of the consortium include Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College. Adjoining the AUC schools, but independent from them, is the Interdenominational Theological Centre, a collection of seminaries and theological schools from a variety of denominations. The Reformed Theological Seminary is another Atlanta school. The Savannah College of Art and Design opened a Midtown, Atlanta, campus in 2005 and acquired the Atlanta College of Art shortly thereafter. John Marshall Law School is the city's only freestanding law school.

Institutions in the metropolitan area include Agnes Scott College, in Decatur; Columbia Theological Seminary, also in Decatur; Clayton State University, in Morrow; DeVry University, in Decatur; Georgia Perimeter College, with campuses in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Conyers, Covington (scheduled to open in January 2007), Decatur, Dunwoody, and Lawrenceville; Gwinnett University Centre (soon to be known as Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville); Kennesaw State University, in Kennesaw; Mercer University, in Chamblee; Southern Polytechnic State University, in Marietta; and the University of West Georgia, in Carrollton.

Public schools

Part of the Henry W. Grady High School Campus in Midtown Atlanta.
Part of the Henry W. Grady High School Campus in Midtown Atlanta.

The public school system ( Atlanta Public Schools) is run by the Atlanta Board of Education with superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall. Currently, the system has an active enrollment of 51,000 students, attending a total of 85 schools: 59 elementary schools (three of which operate on a year-round calendar), 16 middle schools, 10 high schools, and 7 charter schools. The school system also supports two alternative schools for middle and/or high school students, two community schools, and an adult learning centre. The school system also owns and operates radio station WABE-FM 90.1 (the National Public Radio affiliate) and PBS television station WPBA 30.

Private schools

Notable private schools in Atlanta include The Westminster Schools (Buckhead), Pace Academy (Buckhead), The Lovett School (Buckhead), The Paideia School (Druid Hills), The Galloway School (Chastain Park), Atlanta International School (Buckhead), Dar-un-Noor School, The Benjamin Franklin Academy, Killian Hill Christian School, Cliff Valley School, and the Atlanta Girls School.

Notable private schools near Atlanta include Woodward Academy ( College Park), Bridgeway Christian Academy ( Alpharetta), St. Pius X Catholic High School ( Chamblee), Marist School ( Dunwoody in uninc. DeKalb County), Holy Innocents' Episcopal School ( Sandy Springs) and Wesleyan School ( Norcross, Georgia).


Attractions, events, and recreation

The Sweet Auburn district is preserved as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
The Sweet Auburn district is preserved as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
The Varsity has been an Atlanta landmark for over 75 years.
The Varsity has been an Atlanta landmark for over 75 years.
The Georgia Aquarium.
The Georgia Aquarium.
Atlanta's Piedmont Park is the city's largest park. A portion of the park is seen here with the Midtown Atlanta Skyline.
Atlanta's Piedmont Park is the city's largest park. A portion of the park is seen here with the Midtown Atlanta Skyline.
The Fox Theatre at night.
The Fox Theatre at night.

Atlanta boasts a variety of museums on subjects ranging from history to fine arts, natural history, and beverages. Prominent among them are sites honoring Atlanta's participation in the civil rights movement. 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 as the Martin Luther King, Jr. 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 Centre.

Other history museums and attractions include the Atlanta History Centre; the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum (a huge painting and diorama in-the-round, with a rotating central audience platform, that depicts the Battle of Atlanta in the Civil War); the Carter Centre and Presidential Library; historic house museum Rhodes Hall; and the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.

The arts are represented by several theaters and museums, including the Fox Theatre. The Woodruff Arts Centre is home to the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony, High Museum of Art, and Atlanta College of Art. The Atlanta Contemporary Art Centre is the city's home for challenging contemporary art and education geared toward working artists and collectors of art. Museums geared specifically towards children include the Fernbank Science Centre and Imagine It! Atlanta's Children's Museum. The High Museum of Art is the city's major fine/visual arts venue, with a significant permanent collection and an assortment of traveling exhibitions. The Atlanta Opera, which was founded in 1979 by members of two struggling local companies, is arguably the most important opera company in the southeastern United States and enjoys a growing audience and international reputation.

Atlanta features the world's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, which officially opened to the public on November 23, 2005. The aquarium features over 100,000 specimens in tanks holding approximately eight million gallons of water. One unique museum is the World of Coca-Cola featuring the history of the world famous soft drink brand and its well-known advertising. Adjacent is Underground Atlanta, a historic shopping and entertainment complex situated under the streets of downtown Atlanta. In addition the Atlantic Station, a huge new urban renewal project on the northwestern edge of Midtown Atlanta, officially opened in October of 2005. While not a museum per se, The Varsity is the main branch of the long-lived fast food chain, featured as the world's largest drive-in restaurant.

The heart of the city's festivals is Piedmont Park. In 1887, a group of prominent Atlantans purchased 189 acres (0.76 km²) 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 US$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 of Peachtree Creek – a Confederate division occupied the northern edge on July 20, 1864 as part of the outer defense line against Sherman's approach. Next to the park is the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Zoo Atlanta, with a panda exhibit, is in Grant Park.

Just east of the city, Stone Mountain is the largest piece of exposed granite in the world. On its face are giant carvings of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. It is also the site of impressive laser shows in the summer. A few miles west of Atlanta on I-20 is the Six Flags Over Georgia Theme Park, which opened near the city in 1967, and was the second theme park in the Six Flags chain.

Popular annual cultural events include:

  • Atlanta Dogwood Festival, a Spring arts and crafts festival at Piedmont Park.
  • Music Midtown - Three-day music festival in early summer. (Now on hiatus)
  • Screen on the Green - Outdoor classic movies in June in Piedmont Park.
  • Atlanta Gay Pride
  • Atlanta Jazz Festival – largest free jazz festival in the USA
  • Sweet Auburn SpringFest
  • Inman Park Festival
  • Virginia-Highlands Summerfest
  • Georgia Renaissance Festival
  • Greek Festival


Atlanta has a reputation as a highly musical city, especially well-known for hip-hop and R&B musicians. Jermaine Dupri's 2001 hip hop single "Welcome to Atlanta" (feat. Ludacris) declares Atlanta the "new Motown", referencing the city of Detroit, Michigan, which was known for its contributions to popular music, fertile job market and affordable urban housing in the 1950's to 1980's. The Dirty South style of hip-hop emerged in part from Atlanta artists such as Outkast and Goodie Mob. More recently, rapper/producer Lil' Jon has been a driving force behind the party-oriented style known as crunk.

Record Producers L.A. Reid and Babyface founded LaFace Records in Atlanta in the late-1980s; the label has eventually become the home to multi-platinum selling artists such as Toni Braxton, TLC, OutKast, Goodie Mob, Monica, Usher and Ciara, many of whom are Atlantans themselves. It is also the home of Jon Boii Productions & So So Def Records, a label founded by Jermaine Dupri in the mid-1990s, that signed acts such as Da Brat, Jagged Edge, Xscape, Bow Wow, and Dem Franchise Boyz. The success of LaFace and SoSo Def led to Atlanta as an established scene for record labels such as LaFace parent company Arista Records to set up satellite offices. Atlanta is also home to multi-platinum rappers Ludacris and T.I., among others. Artists such as B5, Phife Dawg, and Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys have moved to the city and made it their home. Atlanta is also a well known place for producers and artists trying to get into the music business.

Atlanta has also produced rock and pop music singers, such as The Black Crowes, alternative metal band Sevendust, rock bands Collective Soul and Third Day, the folk-pop Indigo Girls, Butch Walker, and was a proving ground for Connecticut-born pop-rock-blues musician John Mayer. Mayer, as well as Indie.Arie and Shawn Mullins, all performed pre-fame at Eddie's Attic, an independent club in the intown suburb of Decatur. The "Open Mic Shootout" at Eddie's Attic consistently draws singer-songwriter talent from across the nation, and is held every Monday night.

Atlanta's classical music scene includes well-renowned ensembles such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, period-instrument ensemble New Trinity Baroque, Atlanta Boy Choir, and many others. Classical musicians include renowned conductors such as the late Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony's Robert Spano.

The city has a well-known and active live music scene, though recently rapid gentrification and early venue closing times have hurt small clubs and other music venues. In the early 1980s, Atlanta was the home of a thriving new wave music scene featuring such bands as The Brains and The Producers, closely linked to the new wave scenes in Athens, Georgia and other college towns in the southeast.

Video Concert Hall, precursor to MTV, was founded in Atlanta.


Club Sport League Venue
Atlanta Falcons American Football National Football League Georgia Dome
Atlanta Braves Baseball Major League Baseball, NL Turner Field
Atlanta Hawks Basketball National Basketball Association Philips Arena
Atlanta Thrashers Ice Hockey National Hockey League Philips Arena
Atlanta Rollergirls Roller Derby Women's Flat Track Derby Association All American Skating Centre
Atlanta Silverbacks Soccer (Football) USL First Division Silverbacks Park
Georgia Force Arena Football Arena Football League Philips Arena
Atlanta Vision Basketball ABA: Blue Conference The Sampson's Centre
Turner Field
Turner Field

Atlanta has a rich sports history, including the oldest on-campus Division I football stadium, Bobby Dodd Stadium, built in 1913 by the students of Georgia Tech. Atlanta also played host to the second intercollegiate football game in the South, Auburn University vs. University of Georgia in 1892. This game is often considered the Oldest Rivalry in the South. Currently it hosts college football's annual Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10 km race. Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. Centennial Olympic Park, built for 1996 Summer Olympics, sits adjacent to CNN Centre and Philips Arena. It is now operated by the Georgia World Congress Centre Authority.

The city is also host to four different major league sports. The Atlanta Braves baseball team has been the Major League Baseball franchise of Atlanta since 1966; the franchise was previously known as the Boston Braves (1912-1952), and the Milwaukee Braves (1953-1965). The team was founded in 1871 in Boston, Massachusetts as a National Association club, making it the oldest continuously operating sports franchise in North American sports. The Braves won the World Series in 1995 and had a recently ended unprecedented run of 14 straight divisional championships from 1991 to 2005. Before the Braves moved to Atlanta, the Atlanta Crackers were Atlanta's professional baseball team from 1901 until their last season in 1965. They won 17 league championships in the minor leagues. The Atlanta Black Crackers were Atlanta's Negro League team from around 1921 until 1949.

The Atlanta Falcons American football team plays at the Georgia Dome. They have been Atlanta's National Football League franchise since 1966. They have won the division title three times, and a conference championship once, only to go on to lose to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII. Super Bowl XXVIII and XXXIV were held in the city. In the Arena Football League, The Georgia Force has been Atlanta's team since the franchise relocated from Nashville in 2002. The 2005 National Conference champions currently play in Philips Arena.

The Atlanta Hawks basketball team has been the National Basketball Association franchise of Atlanta since 1969; the team was previously known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks (1946-1951), Milwaukee Hawks (1951-55), St. Louis Hawks (1955-68). Their only NBA championship was in 1958, when they were the St. Louis Hawks.

From 1992 to 1996 Atlanta was home to the short-lived Atlanta Knights, an International Hockey League team. Their inaugural season was excellent for a new team, and was only bested by their sophomore season in which they won the championship Turner Cup. In 1996 they moved to Quebec City and became the Quebec Rafales. In 1999 the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team became Atlanta's National Hockey League franchise. They replaced the Atlanta Flames which had departed for Calgary, Alberta in 1980, becoming the Calgary Flames. The Thrashers have yet to make it to the playoffs. Both the Thrashers and the Hawks play in Philips Arena.

In golf, the final event of the PGA Tour season, THE TOUR Championship, is played annually at East Lake Golf Club. This golf course is used because of its connection to the great amateur golfer Bobby Jones, an Atlanta native.

From 2001 to 2003 Atlanta hosted the Atlanta Beat soccer team of the defunct Women's United Soccer Association. They appeared in two of the three Founders Cup championships held, losing to the Bay Area CyberRays in 2001, and the Washington Freedom team in 2003. Currently, Atlanta is the home of the Atlanta Silverbacks of the United Soccer Leagues First Division (Men) and W-League (Women)

The Atlanta Kookaburras are a successful Australian rules football club that compete in mens and women's divisions in the MAAFL and SEAFL and USAFL National Championships.

Other nearby sports facilities include Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) NASCAR race track in Hampton, Georgia. Road Atlanta is another famous local race track, located in Braselton, Georgia.


An example of Christianity in Atlanta.
An example of Christianity in Atlanta.

There are over 1,000 churches and other places of worship within the city of Atlanta. A large majority of Atlantans profess to following a Protestant Christian faith. A number of African-American megachurches are located in the Atlanta area, including New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, led by Bishop Eddie Long, and World Changers Ministries, led by Creflo Dollar. In addition to nearly 50 nonsectarian private schools listed in Fulton and DeKalb counties, there are over 80 religiously-affiliated private schools.

Atlanta is also home to a large, vibrant Jewish community estimated by the Jewish Federation of Atlanta's Jewish Community Study to include 120,000 individuals in 61,300 households (study by the Ukeles Associates, 2006). This study places Atlanta's Jewish population as the 11th largest in the United States, up from 17th largest in 1996. The Temple synagogue, located on Peachtree Street, and its then-rabbi, Alvin Sugarman, were featured in the film Driving Miss Daisy.

As the see of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, Atlanta serves as the Provincial See for the Province of Atlanta. It is currently the second fastest growing diocese in the United States.

The city is also a major Southern Baptist centre.

Atlanta is also the see of the Episcopal Diocese of Altanta, one of the largest in the country, both in number of member parishes and in individual worshipers. The Diocese is headquartered at Saint Philip's Cathedral and is currently lead by the Right Reverend J. Neil Alexander whose powerful and influential voice within the Church made him a candidate for Primacy at the 2006 General Convention.

The city is also the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, with Annunciation Cathedral and Metropolitan Alexios presiding. In total, there are eleven Orthodox parishes in Atlanta, including Greek, Orthodox Church in America, Antiochian, Serbian, Ukrainian and Romanian.

The Southeast Conference, United Church of Christ, is also headquartered in Atlanta and serves the states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and central and eastern Tennessee. There are eight United Church of Christ congregations in the Atlanta metro area.


MARTA provides public transportation in Atlanta
MARTA provides public transportation in Atlanta
The Downtown Connector, with the downtown skyline in the background
The Downtown Connector, with the downtown skyline in the background

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ( IATA: ATL ICAO: KATL), the world's busiest airport as measured by passenger traffic and by aircraft traffic, provides air service between Atlanta many national and international destinations. Situated 10 miles (16 km) south of downtown, the airport covers most of the land inside a wedge formed by Interstates 75, 85, and 285. The MARTA rail system has a station within the airport terminal, and provides direct service to downtown Atlanta, midtown, Buckhead and Sandy Springs. The major general aviation airports near the city proper are DeKalb-Peachtree Airport ( IATA: PDK ICAO: KPDK) and Brown Field ( IATA: FTY ICAO: KFTY). See List of airports in the Atlanta area for a more complete listing.

With a comprehensive network of freeways that radiate out from the city, Atlantans rely on their cars as the dominant mode of transportation in the region – a fact that leads some to call the city "the Los Angeles of the South." Atlanta is mostly encircled by Interstate 285, a beltway locally known as "the Perimeter" which has come to mark the boundary between the interior of the region and its surrounding suburbs. Terms such as ITP (Inside The Perimeter) and OTP (Outside The Perimeter) have arisen to describe area neighborhoods, residents, and businesses. The Perimeter plays a social and geographical role in Atlanta similar to that of the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C.

Three major interstate highways converge in Atlanta; I-20 runs east to west across town, while I-75 runs from northwest to southeast, and I-85 runs from northeast to southwest. The latter two merge to form the Downtown Connector through the centre of the city; the combined highway carries more than 340,000 vehicles per day. The Connector is considered one of the ten most congested segments of interstate highway in the United States.

Interstate 75 just north of the Windy Hill Road interchange in Cobb County carries 17 lanes, making it one of the widest expressways on Earth. The intersection of I-85 and I-285 in Doraville – officially called the Tom Moreland Interchange, but known to most residents as Spaghetti Junction – contains some of the tallest overpasses in the eastern United States. Metropolitan Atlanta is crisscrossed by thirteen freeways (in addition to the aforementioned interstates, I-575, Georgia 400, Georgia 141, I-675, Georgia 316, I-985, Stone Mountain Freeway (US 78), and Langford Parkway (SR 166)). One of the most notable features of Atlanta's roads are the sheer number of them named Peachtree Street or some variation thereof.

The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is Atlanta's public-transit system, operating the rail and bus system within Fulton and Dekalb Counties. Clayton, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties each operate separate, autonomous transit authorities, using buses but no trains. However, many commuters in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs use private automobiles as their primary transportation. (This may be partly because Georgia has had one of the lowest excise taxes on gasoline in the United States. Such taxes in Georgia have risen, however, in recent years: for example, in July 2002, Alaska was the only state with a tax lower than Georgia's 30.6 cents per gallon, but, by August 2005, Georgia's tax had risen by 34.6%, to 41.2 cents per gallon, and 21 states and the District of Columbia had taxes lower than Georgia's.) This results in heavy traffic during rush hour and contributes to Atlanta's air pollution. In recent years, the Atlanta metro area has ranked at or near the top of the longest average commute times in the U.S. In 2001, a group of transit riders joined to form Citizens for Progressive Transit, an organization dedicated to increasing the reach and improving the quality of public transportation in metro Atlanta.

The proposed Beltline would create a greenway and public transit system in a circle around the city from a series of mostly abandoned rail lines. This rail right-of-way would also accommodate multi-use trails connecting a string of existing and new parks. In addition, there is a proposed streetcar project that would create a streetcar line along Peachtree from downtown to Buckhead as well as possibly another East-West line.

Atlanta began as a railroad town and still serves as a major rail junction, with several freight lines belonging to Norfolk Southern and CSX intersecting below street level in downtown. Long-distance passenger service is provided by Amtrak's Crescent train, which connects Atlanta with Baltimore, Maryland; Birmingham, Alabama; Charlotte, North Carolina; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Washington, D.C. The Amtrak station at 1688 Peachtree Street, N.W., known as Brookwood Station (leased to Amtrak by Norfolk Southern), is several miles north of downtown, however, and lacks a connection to the MARTA rail system. An ambitious, long-standing proposal would create a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal downtown, adjacent to Philips Arena and the Five Points MARTA station, which would link, in a single facility, MARTA bus and rail, intercity bus services, proposed commuter rail services to other Georgia cities, and Amtrak.

Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus service between Atlanta and many locations throughout the United States and Canada. The Greyhound terminal is situated at 232 Forsyth Street, on the southern edge of the downtown area and directly beneath MARTA's Garnett rail station.

Sister cities

Atlanta has nineteen sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

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