Atlanta History & Culture

Not many know the history surrounding the historical city before it became the definitive capital of the New South.
Atlanta History & Culture
Millions of people now call Atlanta, GA home. But not many know the history surrounding the historical city before it became the definitive capital of the New South. Long before Buckhead or Downtown existed, there was nothing but pastureland. The small town was known as Terminus and consisted of nothing more than a few houses centered around the train depot. Most townspeople worked for the Western and Atlantic Railroad.

Terminus was briefly known as Marthasville around 10 years decade before The Civil War. Marthasville was changed to Atlanta a few years later and had the makings of a real town with a courthouse, the railroad, a town newspaper, hotels and two colleges. Atlanta's prosperity was short lived; Sherman's soldiers marched destroyed nearly everything. The Marietta National Cemetery contains the graves of 10,000 Union soldiers who died during Sherman's famous "March To The Sea." The Atlantans who stayed began reconstruction right away and the building hasn't slowed since.

As a result of Atlanta's aggressive rebuilding, the capitol of Georgia was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta. Two newspapers emerged as The Atlanta Constitution and The Atlanta Journal. The Journal made a promise to "cover Dixie like the dew."

In 1891, Asa Griggs Candler, Sr. became the sole owner of Coca-Cola for a payout of $2,300. That same decade, President Grover Cleveland gave spoke at the Cotton Exposition in Piedmont Park. Tragedy struck once again and the Fire of 1917 took about 50 blocks of homes and businesses along Jackson Street and North Boulevard.

Horse drawn steamers were never used again for putting out fires.The 1920's marked the start of major growth in the city and became known as the "Golden Age." With it came the first two radio stations, Sears & Roebuck, the High Museum, the Atlanta Historical Society and a Tourism Commission.

Atlanta went airborne with the addition of their first public airport, Candler Field. Candler Field started out with 16 passenger flights and air mail service daily. Known today as Hartsfield International, Atlanta's airport is the busiest in the world. Atlanta gained worldwide recognition with the release of Atlanta native, Margaret Mitchell's only novel, "Gone With The Wind." Lovejoy Plantation, 20 miles south of Atlanta, is said to be the inspiration for Twelve Oaks in the classic novel.

Margaret Mitchell was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her work, which later premiered on the big screen at the beautiful Loew's Grand Theater! "Gone With The Wind" is known today as the best selling novel ever written and has been translated into 36 languages.

Not long after came the premiere of "Gone With The Wind" came "The Song of the South." The Uncle Remus stories, written by Atlantan, Joel Chandler Harris, first appeared in the Atlanta Constitution. Harris intended the stories to help heal racial divisions, and the stories were loved by children of all races.

In 1948, WSB Television hit the airwaves. Not everyone in Atlanta owned a television, but it didn't take long for most homes to catch up with the rest of the country, and, by the time the world was watching, the television news teams had a new focus.... desegregation.

Desegregation began in earnest in the schools. Restaurants, public parks and other facilities quickly followed. This movement was spearheaded by one of history's most noble figures, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King became Atlanta's second Nobel Prize winner for his work in civil rights.

Thousands of people attended King's funeral and many Atlantans realized that Dr. King's passing wasn't the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. Atlantans had something to be excited about when the Braves baseball team came from Milwaukee. A new sports era had begun and continued in the 60's when the Falcons came home to roost.

In a rush to give the Braves a new home, the Atlanta-Fulton County stadium was built in 364 days. Record crowds filled the stadium when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break the world record.

By the 1980's, Atlanta had really come into its own, with a huge assortment of office buildings, convention centers, shopping malls, international companies and sports complexes. A new skyline took shape and, by the 1990's, Atlanta was the twelfth largest city in the country!

During the 90s, Atlanta moved up the ranks to the tenth largest city and welcomed the new Ted Turner Stadium and a new hockey team, the Thrashers. The world took notice in 1996, when Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympic Games and inherited a legacy that will live on for the next hundred years.

Calling itself "The Gateway To the South" and "The City Too Busy to Hate," there is simply no other city like Atlanta!