Atlanta, Georgia

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Atlanta, Georgia
City flag City seal
City nicknames: "The Horizon City", "Hotlanta", "The Phoenix City", "The ATL", "A-Town", or "The Big Peach"

Located in Fulton County and Dekalb County in the state of Georgia
County Fulton County, Georgia
 - Total
 - Water

343.0 km² (132.4 mi²)
1.8 km² (0.7 mi²) 0.51%
County Dekalb County, Georgia
 - Total
 - Water

695.0 km² (268.0 mi²)
7.0 km² (3.0 mi²) 1.00%
 - Total (2000)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

Time zone Eastern: UTC–5
Location 33° 45′ 18″ N, 84° 23′ 24″ W
Mayor Shirley Franklin
City website

Atlanta is the capital and largest city of Georgia, a state of the United States of America. It is the county seat of Fulton County, although a portion of the city (the 1909 annex) is located in DeKalb County. According to the latest census estimates (as of December, 2004), the city had a population of 425,000 and the fast-growing Atlanta metropolitan area totaled 4,708,297, making it the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the United States and the 41st-largest city proper. Atlanta is arguably a poster-child for cities worldwide experiencing rapid urban sprawl, population growth, and commercial development. As a result, Atlanta is a common case study for college students who study Urban Geography around the globe.

Atlanta's development began in the early 19th century as a railroad hub. It was largely destroyed by Union forces during the Civil War, but recovered in time to be chosen the state capital shortly thereafter. In the 20th century, Atlanta was a center for the American Civil Rights Movement and served as the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics.

One of the city's nicknames, "The Phoenix City", relates to its rise after the Civil War. The phoenix appears in many of Atlanta's symbols, including its seal and flag. In the 1940s and 1950s, former Atlanta mayor William B. Hartsfield called Atlanta "The City Too Busy to Hate". In addition, it has also been called the "New York of the South" in response to one of Georgia's own nicknames, "The Empire State of the South." Atlanta may also be known as ATL, a colloquialism for the city (also the IATA airport code for the airport).

Atlanta is circled by Interstate 285, which has come to delineate the interior of the city from the surrounding suburbs. This has given rise to calling residents inside the "Perimeter" (local parlance for I-285) as ITP (Inside the Perimeter) and those in the suburbs OTP (Outside the Perimeter). The Perimeter is Atlanta's equivalent to the Capital Beltway around Washington, DC.

Atlanta has such a great economic impact on the state and the surrounding region that cities and towns up to 60 miles away are considered 'exurbs', defined by the fact that people depend on their livelihoods by commuting to work in the city, rapidly growing what is called Metro Atlanta.



The region where Atlanta and its suburbs were built was originally Creek and Cherokee Native American territory. 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, and 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 and was incorporated as such in 1847.

A slave auction house on Whitehall St., before Sherman burned Atlanta
A slave auction house on Whitehall St., before Sherman burned Atlanta

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 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. 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 leading to the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and the eventual surrender of the Confederacy.

After the war, Atlanta was gradually rebuilt and soon became the industrial and commercial center of the South. From 1867 until 1888, US 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.

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. A race riot in 1906 left at least twelve 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 southeast 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 Center, 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 1960s, Atlanta was a major organizing center of the 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" by avoiding the types of violent confrontations that took place in Selma, Alabama and Birmingham.

In 1990, the International Olympic Committee selected Atlanta as the site for the 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. The games themselves were a wonderful achievement in sports, but were marred by the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, which resulted in the death of two people and injured several others. The bombing was carried out by Eric Robert Rudolph.


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 1000 feet or 300 meters above mean sea level, Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River. Amongst the 25 largest MSAs, Atlanta is the third-highest in elevation, slightly lower than Phoenix and 1 mile (1,600 m) high Denver. Though now somewhat offset by the urban heat island effect, this still results in a climate more moderate than many other cities in the South of the U.S., despite its common nickname, "Hotlanta". At 33 degrees 39 minutes north, Atlanta lies at approximately the same latitude as Los Angeles, Phoenix and Casablanca, but due to its elevation and inland location, it is much cooler than these places and often sees snow in winter.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high [°F] 52 57 65 73 80 87 89 88 82 73 63 55 72
Avg low temperature [°F] 32 35 43 50 59 66 70 69 64 52 43 35 51
Rainfall (inches) 5.02 4.68 5.38 3.62 3.95 3.63 5.12 3.67 4.09 3.11 4.10 3.82 50.2

According to folklore, its central avenue, Peachtree Street, runs through the center 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.

People and culture


Thematic map of African Americans, the largest ethnic group in Atlanta
Thematic map of African Americans, the largest ethnic group in Atlanta

The census of 2000 states there are 416,474 people, (423,019 as of 2003 estimates), 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 several predominately and largely gay neighborhoods, mostly in the Midtown area of the city.

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.

See also: population of Atlanta


Despite the city's overwhelming prosperity, Atlanta has had a negative reputation as being among the most violent cities in North America for several decades. The 2003 FBI crime report listed Atlanta as having the highest violent crime rate per 100,000 people in the country, beating Detroit by a narrow margin. The designation is based on crime statistics in six categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and auto theft. [1] Specifically, the murder rate was a very high 26 per 100,000 citizens in 2004. The high crime rate has also negatively affected Atlanta at the International level, where crime statistics were among the greatest factors in the possibility of the International Olympic Committee awarding the 1996 Olympic Games to a safer host city in the early 1990's. Atlanta eventually won out due to its superior infrastructure and financial support.

In 2005 alone, Atlanta-based crime has received embarrassing national and International media attention for the high-profile Brian Nichols manhunt, who became internationally known as the "Courthouse Killer". Furthermore, a murder suspect who perched himself on top of a construction crane for several days in the upscale Buckhead district had the ensuing drama broadcast on international television for several days. Furthermore, a proposed ban on panhandling, which is a reasonably big issue near downtown Atlanta hotels and attractions which include the upcoming Georgia Aquarium attracted worldwide attention.

Despite these setbacks, however, crime statistics have consistently pointed toward a decline in crime in Atlanta, and while still high, the murder rate in 2004 was half that of New Orleans. As of July 2005, Atlanta was on track to reduce its murder rate by over thirty percent in comparison to 2004.

Attractions, events, and recreation

Midtown Atlanta at night.
Midtown Atlanta at night.
The Varsity has been an Atlanta landmark for over 75 years.
The Varsity has been an Atlanta landmark for over 75 years.
Underground Atlanta is home to many shopping and nightlife venues.
Underground Atlanta is home to many shopping and nightlife venues.
Atlanta's Piedmont Park is the city's largest park.
Atlanta's Piedmont Park is the city's largest park.

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 Center.

Other history museums and attractions include the Atlanta History Center; 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 Center and Presidential Library; and the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum.

The arts are represented by several theaters and museums, including the Fox Theatre. The Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony, High Museum of Art, and Atlanta College of Art. Museums geared specifically towards children include the Fernbank Science Center 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.

Atlanta features the world's largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, which will be open to the public in November, 2005. The aquarium will feature over 100,000 specimens in tanks holding approximately eight million gallons of water. Another 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. 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 $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, home to its own panda exhibit, is located 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.

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.
  • Atlanta Gay Pride [2]
  • Atlanta Jazz Festival [3], largest free jazz festival in the USA
  • Sweet Auburn SpringFest
  • Inman Park Festival [4]
  • Virginia-Highlands Summerfest [5]
  • Georgia Renaissance Festival [6]


The major daily newspaper in Atlanta is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Other weekly papers include Creative Loafing and Atlanta Nation.

The Atlanta metro area is served by a wide variety of local television stations, and is the ninth largest designated market area (DMA) in the U.S. with 2,059,450 homes (1.88% of the total U.S.). The major network television affiliates are WXIA 11 (NBC), WSB 2 (ABC), WGCL 46 (CBS), WAGA 5 (FOX), WATL 36 (WB), WUPA 69 (UPN), WUVG 48 (Univision), WPXA 14 (i), and WHSG 63 (TBN). There are also two PBS stations: WGTV 8 (PBS) and WPBA 30 (PBS), and one independently operated station: WATC 54.

Several cable television networks also operate from Atlanta, including TBS Superstation, CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, and TNT. These stations are owned by Turner Broadcasting System (now Time Warner). The Weather Channel (owned by Landmark Communications) also broadcasts from the Atlanta area.

Nintendo's American Division has its distribution center based in Atlanta. It's the main place where imported games and products arrive to United States and are often inspected and shipped to stores nationwide.


Jermaine Dupri's 2001 hip hop single "Welcome to Atlanta" declares Atlanta the "new Motown", referencing the city of Detroit, Michigan, which was known for its contributions to popular music. A significant number of Atlantans have become successful musicians, including artists such as OutKast, Jerry Reed, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Kelly Rowland, Blaque, Ludacris, T.I., and Lil Jon, to name a few. Others, such as Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, have moved to the city and made it their home.

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, Usher and Ciara, many of whom are Atlantans themselves. It is also the home of So So Def Records, a label founded by Jermaine Dupri in the mid-1990s, that signed acts such as Da Brat, Jagged Edge, Xscape, and Bow Wow. The success of LaFace and SoSo Def led to Atlanta as an established scene for record labels such as LaFace parent company Arista to set up satellite offices.

Despite producing numerous famous musicians, however, Atlanta's live music scene has suffered in recent years. Due in part to harsher new laws dictating the closing times of bars and nightclubs, many small to medium sized venues have closed down. As a result, fewer and fewer touring acts are stopping by Atlanta, putting further financial strain on the remaining clubs and venues. Furthermore, mainstream rock artists that originates from the Atlanta area lags well behind other US cities of similar size, emphasizing that Atlanta puts perhaps far too much emphasis and attention on the Hip Hop and R&B scenes. Exceptions however, include the five-piece alternative metal band Sevendust, modern rock band Collective Soul, and Connecticut-born pop-rock musician John Mayer.

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.


Club Sport League Stadium Logo
Atlanta Falcons Football National Football League; NFC Georgia Dome Atlanta Falcons Logo
Atlanta Braves Baseball Major League Baseball; NL Turner Field Atlanta Braves Logo
Atlanta Hawks Basketball National Basketball Association Philips Arena Atlanta Hawks Logo
Atlanta Thrashers Ice Hockey National Hockey League Philips Arena Atlanta Thrashers Logo
Games of the XXVI Olympiad
Games of the XXVI Olympiad

Atlanta has a rich sports history, including the first 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 Peach Bowl and the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10K race. Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. Centennial Olympic Park, built for 1996 Summer Olympics, sits adjacent to CNN Center and Philips Arena. It is now operated by the Georgia World Congress Center 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 have had an unprecedented run of fourteen straight divisional championships since 1991. 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.

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 sophmore 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 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.

The Georgia Force has been Atlanta's team in the Arena Football League since the franchise relocated from Nashville in 2002. The 2005 National Conference champions currently play in Philips Arena.

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)

Other nearby sports facilities include Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) NASCAR race track in Hampton, Georgia.

Atlanta is home to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl which is played at the Georgia Dome and matches a SEC team against an ACC opponent, as well as the SEC Championship Game in football annually, as well as hosting the basketball and gymnastics championships on several occasions.


Being the unofficial capital of the 'bible belt', a geographic region considered among the most highly religious in western civilization, the Atlanta cityscape is teeming with a seemingly countless amount of large denominational churches and other places of worship. A large majority of Atlantans profess to following a Protestant Christian faith, and many people point out that religion plays a reasonably important role in their weekly lives. As a result, the city could arguably have the distinction of being among the most religious major cities in the country. Furthermore, a large number of students in the Metro area's northern counties attend faith-based Private Schools at a rate unsurpassed by many other parts of the country.

Atlanta serves as the provincial see for the Province of Atlanta, in addition to being home to the Archdiocese of Atlanta (Catholic). The city is also a major Southern Baptist center.


Despite romantic associations, Atlanta has always been more a commercial city than an ante-bellum monument. It is the major center of regional commerce, and boasts an especially strong convention and trade show business. According to the ranking of world cities undertaken by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group & Network (GaWC) and based on the level of presence of global corporate service organisations, Atlanta is considered a gamma or minor world city.

Several major national and international companies are headquartered in Atlanta or its nearby suburbs, including five Fortune 100 companies: The Coca-Cola Company (started in Atlanta), BellSouth, United Parcel Service in Sandy Springs, Home Depot (started in Atlanta), and Georgia-Pacific. Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus has donated more than 200 million dollars to build the new Georgia Aquarium. Newell Rubbermaid recently moved to Sandy Springs as well. Atlanta also has its own Flatiron Building, built before (1897) the better-known one in New York City (1902).

On the north side of the city near Midtown, the former Atlantic Steel plant is being redeveloped as Atlantic Station, a mixed-use urban renewal 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 America'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.

The city is a major cable television programming source; CNN Center, headquarters of the Cable News Network, is in Atlanta where the network 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/Adult Swim and companion channel Boomerang, TNT, Turner South, CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN Headline News, CNN Airport Network, and TBS. Atlanta's WTBS channel 17 (originally WTCG) 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. Atlanta's WSB was the first AM radio station in the South. There are also many Atlanta FM radio stations that play music of different kinds.



Atlanta City Hall
Atlanta City Hall

Atlanta is governed by an at-large elected mayor and a city council. The city council consists of representatives of twelve districts from the city as well as three at-large positions. The mayor may veto a bill passed by the council, but the council may override 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 was elected for two terms and then for another term in the early 1990s. His successors Andrew Young (and later, Bill Campbell) owed their success in the mayoral election at least in part to Jackson's endorsement.

In July 2004, Atlanta became the first city in the state to impose a sales tax of its own, bringing the total to 8% in both the Fulton and DeKalb parts of the city. This passed in a referendum during the July 20th primary election with a 75% majority, after being allowed by the state legislature earlier in 2004. The sales tax helped to reduce a huge rate increase on water and sewer bills, necessary to pay three billion dollars in bonds to fix the city's aging (and in places decrepit) municipal water and sewer systems. Combined sewer overflows will also be eliminated, so that runoff water is separated, preventing diluted sewage from overflowing at sewage treatment plants during heavy rains.

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), the General Assembly, and the residence of the Governor of Georgia in Buckhead. It 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.


MARTA provides public transportation in Atlanta.
MARTA provides public transportation in Atlanta.

Atlanta is served by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (IATA: ATL, ICAO: KATL), the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic and the world's second busiest by aircraft traffic, providing air service to and from many national and international destinations. It is situated 10 miles south of downtown, adjacent to the intersection of I-85 and I-285. The MARTA rail system has a station within the airport terminal, and provides direct service to the business areas in downtown Atlanta, Buckhead and Sandy Springs. The major general aviation airports near the city proper are DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (IATA: PDK, ICAO: KPDK) and Atlanta/Fulton County Airport-Brown Field (IATA: FTY, ICAO: KFTY). See List of airports in the Atlanta area for a more complete listing.

Three major interstate highways intersect the city; I-20 runs east-west, while I-75 and I-85 run roughly north-south and join together as the Downtown Connector through the center of the city. I-285 (also known as "the Perimeter") encircles the city and some of its inner suburbs. I-75 just north of the Windy Hill Road interchange in Cobb County is one of the widest freeways (seventeen lanes) in the entire world. The intersection of I-85 and I-285 in Doraville, locally referred to as Spaghetti Junction, is one of the tallest 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)). The Georgia Department of Transportation operates Georgia Navigator to disseminate current traffic (travel times, camera images, accidents) and road (construction, flooding, ice, debris) conditions throughout the state.

MARTA is the public transit agency in the city, operating the subway and bus system within Fulton and Dekalb Counties. Clayton County, Gwinnett County and Cobb County all operate separate, autonomous transit authorities, all consisting of a bus network, with no rail. However, many commuters in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs use automobiles as their primary mode of transportation. This results in heavy traffic during rush hour and contributes to Atlanta's air pollution problems. In recent years, the Atlanta metro area has ranked at or near the top of the longest average commute time in the US.

Atlanta grew up as a railroad town and is still today a major rail junction, with several busy freight lines belonging to Norfolk Southern and CSX intersecting below street level in the downtown area. Long distance passenger service is provided by Amtrak's Crescent train which connects Atlanta with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Birmingham and New Orleans. The Amtrak station is situated at 1688 Peachtree St. N.W., several miles north of downtown and not well located for onward public transportation. An ambitious long-standing proposal would create a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal in downtown adjacent to Philips Arena and the Five-Points MARTA station which would link MARTA bus and rail, intercity bus service, proposed commuter rail service to other Georgia cities, and Amtrak in a single facility.

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.

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.


Public schools

The public school system (Atlanta Public Schools) is run by the Atlanta Board of Education. 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 center. 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

There are also several private schools in the area. Some notable private schools include Atlanta International School (Buckhead), The Galloway School, Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Pace Academy, The Lovett School (Buckhead), The Paideia School, Greater Atlanta Christian School (Norcross), St. Pius X Catholic High School (Chamblee-Tucker), Blessed Trinity Catholic High School, The Westminster Schools (Buckhead), Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School (Rabun Gap), Woodward Academy (College Park), and Atlanta Girls' School (Buckhead).

Colleges and universities

Some of the prominent institutions of higher education in Atlanta include Emory University, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Mercer University, and Oglethorpe University. Atlanta University Center, a consortium of historically-black colleges and universities, is also located in the city. Schools that are part of this consortium include Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, and Spelman College. Other schools in the city include the Atlanta College of Art, Portfolio Center, and Reformed Theological Seminary.

Institutions in the surrounding metro area include Agnes Scott College (Decatur), DeVry University (Decatur), Clayton State University (Morrow), Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw), Georgia Perimeter College, Gwinnett University Center (soon to be known as Georgia Gwinnett College, in Lawrenceville), The University of West Georgia (Carrollton), and Southern Polytechnic State University (Marietta).

Sister cities

Atlanta has eighteen sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Ancient Olympia (Greece), Brussels (Belgium), Daegu (South Korea), Tbilisi (Republic of Georgia), Toulouse (France), Ra'annana (Israel), Taipei (Taiwan), Port-of-Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), Lagos Island (Lagos, Nigeria), Fukuoka (Japan), Bucharest (Romania), Cotonou (Benin), Montego Bay (Jamaica), Newcastle-upon-Tyne (England), Nürnberg (Germany), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Salcedo (Dominican Republic), and Salzburg (Austria).

See also


  • Frederick Allen. Atlanta Rising. Atlanta: Longstreet Press, 1996. A detailed history of Atlanta from 1946 to 1996, with much about City Councilman, later Mayor, William B. Hartsfield's work in making Atlanta a major air transport hub, and about the civil rights movement as it affected (and was affected by) Atlanta.
  • Clinton, Paul (20 April 2000). "Diana Ross' tour excludes old partner, friend" (
  • Darlene R. Roth and Andy Ambrose. Metropolitan Frontiers: A short history of Atlanta. Atlanta: Longstreet Press, 1996. An overview of the city's history with an emphasis on its growth.
  • Elise Reid Boylston. Atlanta: Its Lore, Legends and Laughter. Doraville: privately printed, 1968. Lots of neat anecdotes about the history of the city.
  • Atlanta, Then and Now. Part of the Then and Now book series.
  • Atlanta, GA (Source for Atlanta Flag)
  • Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events : Years of Change and Challenge, 1940-1976 by Franklin M. Garrett, Harold H. Martin
  • Georgia Humanities Council. The New Georgia Encyclopedia. [7]

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Travel guide to Atlanta from Wikitravel

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