1. Geographical position; climate
Atlanta lies in the northwest of Georgia whose capital it is. The city itself has a population of just more than 400.000, but the metropolitan area has almost nine times that number of people. Atlanta is approximately located in the latitude of Gibraltar which becomes chiefly apparent through the sun that has much more power than in Central European latitudes.
The climate in Atlanta can be described as temperate but pleasant throughout the whole year. From November to late March, average temperatures range between a minimum of 25 degrees F. and a maximum of 60; the thermometer occasionally falls below 15, but snow is infrequent. Spring and fall are delightful, with temperatures fluctuating between 50 and the low 70s. June, July and August are warm and humid, and daily highs often exceed 90 degrees. The wettest months are January and March; summer thunderstorms contribute to another rainy peak in July.
The area of today`s Atlanta was first discovered by some explorers who in 1782 found an Indian village at the river Chattahoochee
and called it standing peachtree. Scientists persume that peach is derived from pitch (Pechkiefer) because peachtrees (Pfirsichbäume)
are not native in this area. Oh, and the area has more than 30 streets with the word Peachtree in its name….gotta be a record, huh?
In 1812 Fort Peachtree was founded in order to protect the early settlers from the Indians. Twenty years later the state sold the
Indian land to white settlers. Hardy Ivy from North Carolina was in 1833 the first white man who settled down there for a longer time (at today`s crossing Courtland/ Ellis Street).
As the land was still undeveloped to a large extent, the State of Georgia chartered a railroad to connect farming and cotton states to eastern markets and ports in 1836. A rail line was built between Atlanta and Chattanooga and 138 mile markers were placed. The Zero Milepost still stands at Underground Atlanta today. The first engine, however, passed over the bridge over the Chattahoochee river only in 1845 — pulled by some mules because rails had not yet been built. The terminal and the town were named as unimaginative as possible: Terminus. This was the birthname of Atlanta. 17.000 Indians were driven away by force, 4.000 of them died during the 1.280 kilometres march to Oklahoma. As Trail Of Tears this incident entered into history books.
Gradually more and more people settled down there and in 1847 they renamed Terminus into Marthasville referring to the daughter of their governor Wilson Lumpkin. At the same time a 23-year-old second lieutnant of the army, William Tecumseh Sherman, was stationed in Marthasville for two months. Later he should be of great importance for this town.
In 1845 taciturn railway-men complained that the name Marthasville was too long and the 2000 imaginative citizens opted for Atlanta which is the female form of Atlantic.
As a bustling new town Atlanta emerged rapidly around the Zero Milepost. On the eve of the Civil War, Atlanta had 10.000 people. It had already become the trade and cultural center for the South and gained a lot of importance because of its railway lines (today the trains have been replaced by planes concerning this function).
Alabama Street, between Peachtree Street and Central Avenue, was the city`s center, which was to become Underground Atlanta. In 1855 America`s first gas-lamps were lighted in Atlanta.
In 1861 the Civil War broke out and Georgia seceded from the Union in January. Atlanta was a prime target for the Army of General William T. Sherman. At the beginning of the year Atlanta saw an earthquake, later it got strategic importance because it was the railroad center for the South and served as the supply depot of the Confederacy. However, Atlanta`s wish to become the capital of the Confederacy run aground; instead of this Richmond (Virginia) became the capital.
In 1862 James J. Andrews, a spy of the Union, together with some soldiers boarded a train with the engine General. They were pursued by the engine Texas, caught and executed. This event is known as The Great Locomotive Chase. The engine Texas is on view in the Cyclorama Museum, General in the Big Shanty Museum.
Federal shelling into the city`s center damaged the gas-lamp, which still stands at Peachtree and lower Alabama Streets.
In 1864, exactly on July 22, General Sherman invaded Atlanta with 100.000 Union-soldiers and put 60.000 Confederates to flight. The battle lasted six weeks and cost the lives of 66.650 people until the mayor of Atlanta, James Calhoun, walked through the streets with a white flag and capitulated. But that didn`t impress Sherman and so his drunken soldiers passed through the town and reduced it to a smoking ruin. Finally 3300 of the 3600 houses were burned down — a dramatical scene in Gone With The Wind, a traumatical event for the city and its inhabitants. Atlanta is the only American city that has ever been destroyed during a war.
One year later the Civil War was over and the rebuilding began. The last soldiers of the Confederacy, however, didn`t leave before 1876. Atlantans sifted through the ashes of wartime and the city drew upon its unconquerable spirit and the wise use of carpetbagger money to again become a booming commercial center.
In the five years between 1866 and 1871 the city`s population doubled to 22.000. In 1877 Atlanta became the capital of the State of Georgia.
In 1886 the chemist John S. Pemberton invented the most popular product that has been offered all over the world for 100 years: a drink called Coca-Cola. Two years later Pemberton sold the patent to Asa Chandler for 2300 dollars who developed Coca-Cola into a product for millions of people. Ernest Woodruff, a banker from Atlanta, bought the company in 1916 for 50 mio dollars and became Mr. Coca-Cola. Woodruff endowed 225 mio dollars to Emory University which today would not exist without him.
In 1929 Atlanta`s first airport was opened and became the home-airport of Delta Air Lines.
Seven years later, in 1936, Margaret Mitchell`s novel Gone With The Wind was published, three years later the movie was shown for the first time. Due to segregation blacks were not allowed to watch the film.
In the late 50s Martin Luther King Jr. who was born in Atlanta in 1925 and assassinated in Memphis in 1968 succeeded with his idea of nonviolent resistance. In 1959 segregation was abolished in public transport, two years later at schools and universities. Maynard Jackson was in 1974 the first black mayor of Atlanta, his successor Andrew Young was also black.
Starting in 1960 the unknown architect John Portman made Atlanta a booming city. For example he built the Marchandise Mart, the Portman Center, some towers, famous hotels (like the Hyatt Regency Atlanta which made him famous all over the world) or the Mariott Hotel. Soon another architect, Tom Cousins came. The hard competition between the two architects led to today`s skyline of Atlanta without any order or architectural planning.
In 1979 Atlanta got a modern rapid-rail system: MARTA.
After selection by the International Olympic Committee, Atlanta hosted
the 1996 summer Olympics.
Today Atlanta is the third largest city of the USA, the commercial, industrial and financial giant of the Southeast. Atlantans call it The Next Great International City and that shows a certain pride in their booming city. From an economic perspective, there is ample evidence to support this slogan: more than 30 international banks have offices there, foreign capital investment tops $ 6 billion, and there are more than 1.000 facilities either owned or leased by international companies. The Atlanta International School attracts students from 48 countries and the city boasts three foreign-language newspapers, a consular corps representing 22 nations, two dozen international trade and tourism offices and nine foreign chambers of commerce. The United Nations is even preparing to move its international training facilities from Switzerland to Atlanta. And how many cities can claim a chamber of commerce branch office in Russia? CNN is based there and Coca-Cola claims Atlanta as its hometown. With low unemployment and a solid, multi-industry economy to keep the cost of living in check, Atlanta draws annual praise from business journals as one of the country`s ²best cities in which to do business².
Some more of the claims to fame are the Hartsfield International Airport which is the largest passenger terminal complex in the world, the Atlanta Ballet (the longest running ballet company in the world) or the Georgia World Congress Center (the most-occupied city convention site in the United States).
And this list could go on and on, so experience it yourself…
Atlanta is, like numerous other cities, a city of neighborhoods. Profiled below are some of Atlantas`s most distinctive intown districts.
At Atlanta`s famed Five Points, a quintet of streets spins from the city`s early commercial center towards some of its most compelling landmarks. Close by are the 1889 State Capitol, capped with glittering gold mined in north Georgia, the Georgia State Univeristy, the Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium, home of the Braves and the Falcons, and the Omni Coliseum, where the Hawks play; the World Congress Center and the CNN Center. A skip away, between the bases of finance and governments, Underground Atlanta spreads its attractive shops, restaurants and nightspots over 12 lively acres. Next to Underground Atlanta you find the World of Coca-Cola. In contrast to downtown`s soaring twentieth-century skyline, you should visit Woodruff Park which offers a lunchtime oasis for the office crowd. Don`t miss Peachtree Center, the galaxy of gleaming hotels and office towers.
North of downtown, corporate elegance continues into burgeoning midtown — but the mood changes. Along these wide, shady streets, cushy condos contrast with the spacious, spruced-up older houses, while restaurants and nightspots run the gamut from jeans to dress-up. Nearby, at the north end of Piedmont Park you should visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden which shelters rare tropical and desert plants. In Midtown you find also the Fox Theatre and the Woodruff Memorial Arts Center.
About six miles north of downtown Peachtree enters Buckhead which is Atlanta`s answer to Beverly Hills. Its elite homes and fashionable lifestyle belie its humble beginnings, when the head of a hapless buck, tacked up outside a long-ago tavern, gave birth to the section`s singular designation. Today, a far cry from humble, Buckhead is the locale of the currently ²in² restaurants, favored watering holes of the city`s young professionals, and such ultrachic shopping enclaves as Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square. Buckhead includes also the elegant 1928 Swan House and the 1840 plantation plain-style Tullie Smith House, part of the Atlanta History Center complex.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Historic District and ²Sweet Auburn²
About a mile east of downtown`s Five Points is the Auburn Avenue site of the birthplace of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Also on the artery dubbed ²Sweet Auburn² is the Ebenezer Baptist Church, were he and his father preached. Next door is the Freedom Hall complex, location of King`s gravesite and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change. The two-block district was named a National Historic Site in 1980.
4. Sights to see
Georgia State Capitol was patterned after the National Capitol. Gold leaf mined in north Georgia covers the exterior dome. Inside, the Georgia State Museum of Science and Industry displays rocks, minerals, fossils, commercial products and Indian artifacts.
The Antebellum Plantation is a complex of early 19th-century homes and buildings relocated from throughout the state. The buildings include the main house, overseer`s house, slave cabins and a country store, all furnished in period.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Center
The tomb of Atlanta`s native son, civil rights leader and Nobel Prize winner, stands next to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, so closely associated with his life, work and death. The birthplace house is in the next block. Across Auburn Avenue is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
The Fox Theatre
The Fox is not just a movie theater, but a complex of different facilities, including the 7.000-square-foot Egyptian Ballroom, Grand Salon, executive offices and the Grand Auditorium. The auditorium was conceived as an open courtyard in a Moorish city, with twinkling stars and floating clouds in an azure sky overhead. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Fox is now used for performances of a wide scope of entertainment, from Broadway musicals and plays to rock concerts and classic films.
Georgia World Congress Center
Atlanta`s largest convention center, located next to the Omni Hotel. The World Congress Center boasts exhibit areas totaling 639.000 square feet, the equivalent of more than 13 football fields. This unique structure offers simultaneous interpretation facilities for up to six languages in a theater and meeting room. Georgia`s products, tourist attractions and heritage are displayed in the Georgia Hall.
Renowed for its unique modern architecture, this downtown center now includes seven office towers, shops and restaurants, the 70.000 square-foot Peachtree Athletic Club and three hotels the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the 73-story Westin Peachtree Plaza, and the Marietta Marquis, the largest convention hotel in the Southeast. Also included as part of the Atlanta Market Center complex are the Atlanta Apparel Mart and Atlanta Merchandise Mart.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
The center´s 60 acres contain vegetable, herb, Japanese and rose gardens, forest walking trails and a glass-enclosed conservatory for tropical, Mediterranean, desert and endangered plants.
Atlanta History Center
encompasses 32 acres of gardens and woodland trails that are the setting for two historic homes. Swan House is a 1928 Palladian-style mansion furnished in period; Tullie Smith Farm is an 1840s plantation farmhouse completed with traditional outbuildings.
exhibits more than 1.000 animals on 37 acres. Known for ist reptile collection and children`s zoo, the zoo also includes the Ford Rain Forest, where mountain gorillas live in family groups; Flamingo Plaza, home to 50 Chilean flamingos; Masai Mara, a replica of the East African plains with browsing giraffes, antelopes and the endangered black rhinoceros; and the Ketambe exhibit, home to rare Sumatran tigers.
Robert W. Woodruffs Arts Center
is dedicated to the 122 Atlanta Art Association members killed in a Paris plane crash in 1962. The four-story center offers education and entertainment in the visual and performing arts.
High Museum Of Arts
is a modern six-story building sheathed in white enamel panels. The museum incorporates large windows and a soaring atrium lit by skylights, allowing glimpses of more than one exhibition area at a time and both distant and close-up views of individual works of art. Permanent exhibits include Italian art from the 14th-18th centuries, 19th-century French and 19th- and 20th-century American art, African art, photographs, prints, and an extensive collection of decorative arts. Paintings by American artists form the basis of the collection.
SciTrek, the sience and technology museum of Atlanta
More than 100 exhibits in four main halls — Simple Machines; Light, Color and Perception; Electricity and Magnetism; and Kidspace — provide opportunities for learning about science and technology through hands-on participation.
The World of Coca-Cola
This $15 million, 45.000-square-foot, three-story facility commemorates more than a century of one of America`s favourite refreshments. The outside features a 12-ton neon display, while inside, Coca-Cola artifacts, technological displays and interactive exhibits are presented.
Hourly tours provide an inside look at Turner Broadcasting`s networks — CNN and Headline News — which revolutionized television journalism with their 24-hour live news coverage.