Atlanta began its history in 1782 at the convergence of the Chattahoochee River and the Peachtree Creek. This is where the Indian Village called “Standing Peachtree” was located. In 1822 a parcel of land including the Atlanta area was sold by the Cherokee and Creek Indians to white colonists. Atlanta was orinally called “Terminus” in 1837 after beginning of construction of the eastern terminus of the railroad traveling to the midwest.
In 1842, the settlement known as Terminus was renamed “Marthasville” after the daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin. Eventually in 1847 the town was incorporated and the name changed to Atlanta – the feminine version of Atlantic (railroad).
Atlanta became a major focus point during the Civil War and hosted several battles. In 1864 Union General William “Tecumseh” Sherman began his march from Chattanooga to Atlanta. General Sherman consistently defeated the undermanned Confederate Army under the leadership of General Joseph Johnston. A long fought battle took place at Kennesaw Mountain where Confederates are victorious.
In an effort to slow down the advancing Union troops after crossing the Chattahoochee River President Andrew Davis orders the replacement of General Joe Johnston with General John Bell Hood. Mayor James Calhoun surrenders the city after losing a series of fights that included the Battle Of Peachtree Creek, the Battle Of Ezra Church, and the Battle of Atlanta where over 10,000 people died.
On November 11, 1864 civilians were ordered out of the city taken over by General Sherman in order to prepare for his infamous “March to the Sea”. Despite ordering Atlanta burned to the ground, Sherman spares 400 structures including churches and hospitals. Confederate soldiers and civilians began arriving to the city about a week later.
The editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution Henry Grady began promoting Atlanta as the “New South” . In 1868 through hard work and determination Atlanta becomes the Capital of Georgia.
In 1885 the first glass of Coca-Cola is dispensed from a soda fountain at Jacob’s Pharmacy. The syrupy concoction invented by Dr. John Pemberton originally contained cocaine anda lot more caffeine than today’s recipe. Dr. Pemberton stated his drink could cure the common cold as well as other ailments.
Asa Candler buys the Coca-Cola brand and formula in 1889 and incorporates the Coca-Cola Company in 1892. Coca-Cola goes on to become the world’s most popular brand as well as the largest beverage company in the world.
Race Riots in Atlanta erupt in 1906 killing 28 people including 26 African Americans. Competition for employment and civil rights were the main causes for tensions between black and whites.
On January 15, 1929 the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is born in Atlanta and ushers in the Civil Rights Movement. Later on Dr. King becomes the most famous civil rights leader in our nations history.
On December 15, 1939 the Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta hosts the world premier of the motion picture “Gone With the Wind” . Along with a crowd of 300,000 were movie stars Clark Cable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Haviland. Atlanta Native Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the novel she wrote depicting the Antebellum South.
In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his first public appearance in Atlanta and also gives his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C.
Dr. Martin Luther Kings actions help pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then the Voting Rights act of 1965. In 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. becomes the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize .
In April 1966 the Atlanta Braves play their first game at the new Fulton County Stadium. Atlanta also gets the Falcons football team and becomes the only city to ever get both a baseball and a football team in the same year. Stone Mountain Park opens for the first time.
On April 4th, 1968 Dr Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by a sniper’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee. On April 9, a nationally televised march takes place through the streets of Atlanta and Dr. King is buried.
Tom Cousins purchases the St Louis Hawks in 1968 and brings Atlanta their first NBA Team, the Atlanta Hawks.
After several decades of work the Stone Mountain Memorial Carving is completed in 1972 and is the largest bas relief sculpture in the world. The carving on Stone Mountain consists of three Confederate leaders of the American Civil War, President Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
In 1972 the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) purchases the Atlanta Transit Company for $12 million and puts in place a new rail system, new buses and bus routes. MARTA eventually becomes the 7th largest public transit system in the nation.
Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run in 1974 as the nation watches on live television. “Hammering” Hank breaks one of baseballs most cherished records.
In 1983 President Reagen establishes a federal holiday named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and is observed on the third Monday of each January.
Atlanta hosts the Democratic National Convention in 1988.
Although considered a long shot, Atlanta is selected as the site for the Games of the XXVI Olympiad. Also known as the Centennial Olympics, Atlanta wins over Toronto, Athens and Tokyo as the host city.
Atlanta Braves win the World Series in 1995 by defeating the Cleveland Indians.
In 1996 Atlanta opens its doors to the world by hosting the Centennial Olympic Games. The Olympics changed Atlanta as new sports venues were added, streets and sidewalks were improved. A major part of the downtown revitalization occurred when Centennial Olympic Park was created.
All said the Centennial Olympic Games brought in over $5 billion dollars to the local economy. Over two million visitors came to Atlanta while 3.5 billion watched the Olympics on tv. The profound impact of 1996 Centennial Olympics cannot be understated as they catapulted Atlanta as an international destination to millions around the globe.
Today Atlanta Georgia is not only a booming Metropolis and but a transportation hub to the world. Atlanta is the third largest city in the country and ranks number one as the fastest growing city in the country since 2000. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. Atlanta is indeed the “New South” as evidenced by its bustling skyline like a phoenix rising from the ashes and its history is still being written!