Atlanta is the vanguard of the New South, with the charm and elegance of the Old. It is a city that balances southern traditions with sleek modernism. In Atlanta, the peach trees are plentiful and the tea is sweet, yet this city boasts three skylines and the world’s busiest airport. Atlanta has been burnt to the ground and built back up; it has seen the horrors of war and felt the pain of droughts and floods. Atlanta knows rebirth and endurance though, perhaps better than any other city. Atlanta was host to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, gave birth to the greatest figure of the civil rights movement, is the beloved capital of the state of Georgia, and has become the enduring leader of the American South.
The separated skyscrapers of Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead make Atlanta’s three skylines, and the size of any one of these districts could rival the center of any other city in the South. Atlanta is not all high rises though; each of the city’s urban neighborhoods offer unique atmospheres that are well adapted to living in the shadow of the city.
Downtown (Five Points, Centennial Park, Sweet Auburn, Hotel District, Castleberry Hill)
The most central and commercial area in Georgia (economically and politically), downtown Atlanta includes the state capitol, city hall, the CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium and the New World of Coca-Cola
Midtown (Midtown, Atlantic Station)
Just North of Downtown, this is a major business and residential district with tall skyscrapers and a popular nightlife area. This district also includes Piedmont Park, the Woodruff Arts Center, and the Georgia Tech campus.
Located sveral miles North of Midtown, Buckhead is a popular business and nightlife district. Buckhead is surrounded by neighboring Brookwood Hills, as well as Peachtree Battle, Lindbergh Center, and the Governor's Mansion.
East Atlanta (Virginia-Highland, Little Five Points, Candler Park, Poncey-Highland, East Atlanta Village)
The alternative style neighborhood Little Five Points is bordered by trendy Virginia-Highland with nearby Poncey-Highland, as well as the growing community of East Atlanta Village.
South Atlanta (Grant Park, Hapeville, Southeast Atlanta)
Home of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field and one of the busiest airports in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. South Atlanta also contains the neighborhoods of Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, and Lakewood.
West Atlanta (Upper Westside)
Includes Vine City, Bankhead, Historic West End, Collier Heights, and the Upper Westside
Atlanta is on the Piedmont Plateau, at an approximate elevation of 800 ft - 1900 ft (240 m - 580 m) above sea level. The city is thus somewhat cooler than other places in the US South, a fact that certainly helped the growth of the city before the introduction of air conditioning.
Atlanta experiences a very wide range of temperatures. Temperatures in winter can drop into the single digits on occasion, and some winters bring significant snowfall. The region can also receive devastating ice storms. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures frequently reaching above 90°F (32°C), thus the city earning the nickname "Hotlanta". Rainfall is high in late winter and early spring, and afternoon thunderstorms are common in summer. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. The region is often affected during hurricane season (June 1 to November 30) from remnants that spill out from the Gulf, bringing heavy rains and sometimes high winds.
Atlanta began taking substantive shape in 1837 when the Western & Atlantic Railroad selected the site as the Southern end of its tracks. The town was called Terminus until 1843 when it was renamed Marthasville after the daughter of Gov. Wilson Lumpkin. In 1847, the city was renamed Atlanta, supposedly a feminine form of "Atlantic" probably created by an engineer with the Western & Atlantic. The city was incorporated in 1847.
By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta was a major railroad hub, manufacturing center, and supply depot. But, in 1864, in order to cripple transportation between the South and the North, Union General William T. Sherman's army burned all of the railroad facilities, almost every business and more than two-thirds of the city's homes to the ground during his infamous "March to the Sea." Atlanta lay in ruins, the only major American city ever destroyed by war.
Atlanta's first resurgence began soon after. Within four years of Sherman's attack, the Georgia capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta and a drive to attract new business was underway. In the meantime, college and universities began to open, telephones were introduced, and trolleys began to roll. In 1895, the Cotton States and International Exposition in Piedmont Park showed 800,000 visitors and residents that Atlanta was headed in a new direction and braced for the 20th century.
By the late 1920s, a downtown business sector had taken shape, giving Atlanta much of the distinct pattern it maintains today. At the same time, Atlanta Alderman (and later Mayor) William B. Hartsfield campaigned long and hard to convince the city to turn a vacant racetrack into an airport. Today, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the world's busiest airport, with more than 80 million annual passengers.
While the city continued its economic surge, it also became known as the "City Too Busy to Hate." Atlanta and Georgia preempted much of the strife associated with the 1950s and '60s by taking the lead in the Southeast in strengthening minority rights. The city's strongest identification with the movement was through its native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Much has been accomplished in the last 25 years to elevate Atlanta to world-class status. An efficient public transportation system, MARTA, was put in place; Underground Atlanta was added to the entertainment map; the Georgia World Congress Center made the city a convention hub; the Georgia Dome was built in 1992; and Philips Arena was built in 1999.
From July 20 through August 4, 1996, all eyes were on Atlanta as it hosted the Centennial Olympic Games. The city successfully hosted the biggest Olympic Games ever, showcasing itself to 2 million people in person and 3.5 billion people through global broadcast.
The Olympics served as a catalyst for a second resurgence of Atlanta as it experiences a dramatic transformation from great American city to greater international city by fueling more than $6 billion in development and changes.
Most recently, Atlanta has become a major conference and convention destination, due mostly to the enormous airport and favorable weather. Most of the conference venues are located around the Peachtree Center MARTA station in downtown, and when there is a large show in town, it can sometimes seem as though every other person in the city is wearing a name tag.
Atlanta’s southern culture, deep history, and bustling city have been the backdrop for numerous classic films.
Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939). Steeped in Confederate politics, a struggle for survival, and unavoidable love intrigues, this film has the rare distinction of being as good as if not better than the classic southern book it is based on.
Driving Miss Daisy (Bruce Beresford, 1989). This film tactfully explores the racial issues of the civil rights-era through the nuances of a relationship between a wealthy white woman and her black chauffer.
ATL (Chris Robinson, 2006). A coming of age drama set in the hip-hop culture of the modern city.
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