Brief History of Atlanta, Georgia

This brief history of Atlanta is presented to you by the #1 roofing contractor Atlanta GA.


Since 1898, Atlanta has been the capital of the state of Georgia. Atlanta is also the county seat of Fulton County and it is located at the junction of the Chattahoochee River with Peachtree Creek. There are many interesting facts about Atlanta, including that it was founded for the needs of railroads and that today, it is the most populated city in the U.S. state of Georgia. 

Read on to learn more about the founding of the city and its history until today.

Early History of Atlanta

The region of Atlanta used to be the territory of the Creek Indians and the Cherokee Native Americans, of which the first non-native settlement was called Fort Peachtree during 1813.

The Western and Atlantic Railroad were built in 1837 eastward, while the Georgia Railroad grew west. The “zero-mile marker” was the meeting point of these two railroads which led to a community growing around this meeting point. The area was first called Terminus, then Marthaville until it was renamed once again into Atlanta. 

The first train took off towards Marietta, Georgia in 1842 after which Atlanta continued to grow. A four-square-mile area center was incorporated in 1847 on the terminus. The Moral Party and the Free and Rowdy Party competed in the first city election during 1848 of which the latter won the vote. 

After the telegraph arrived in Atlanta during 1849, several additional railroads made their way to Atlanta in the following years. Atlanta and its suburbs got included in Fulton County during 1854 after Georgia created a legislature. 

Civil War Years

Atlanta grew fast in population and by the outbreak of the Civil War, there were about 8,000 residents in Atlanta. However, due to Atlanta’s role as a hospital center, people flocked to the city until there were about 20,000 people by the time General Tecumseh Sherman reached the town in 1864. 

Following his arrival, General Sherman then gave the order for Atlanta to be burned down to the ground. During this devastating action, more than 3,000 buildings were destroyed. But despite this tragedy, the city of Atlanta rapidly and successfully rebuilt itself after the war, which is why the bird phoenix is the symbol of Atlanta today.  

After the war, the Freedmen’s Bureau was established and operated until 1870. The Freedmen’s Bureau, Methodist Episcopal Church, and Clark College played a role in developing the Atlanta University since 1865. 

In 1989, the two institutions became one to form Clark Atlanta University. Baptists found the Morehouse College in 1867 and the Spelman College in 1881. All of the above-mentioned educational institutes take part in the Atlanta University Center today.

St Joseph’s Hospital was founded in 1880 by the Sisters of Mercy. St. Joseph’s Hospital is the oldest hospital in Atlanta and is still operating today. In 1905, Piedmont Hospital also opened its doors. 

The 20th Century 

During the first few decades of the twentieth century, the city of Atlanta experienced some significant growth. The population of the city tripled, while the city limits started expanding into the surrounding areas and suburbs. Construction in the city was also very busy, as many new buildings emerged, such as the Flatiron, Equitable, Empire, and Candler buildings and the Sweet Auburn center.

Atlanta consisted of numerous train tracks because it was built as a railroad center. These tracks caused problems for vehicle traffic downtown. Therefore, the street level was moved one and a half stories above ground level during 1929. The old street level is today known as Underground Atlanta. 

Apart from the growth and expansion, the city was also marked with racial tensions and segregation during the first decades of the twentieth century. This later sparked the organization of the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of this movement and protest against racial segregation in Atlanta. Eventually, compared to the rest of the Southern cities, Atlanta is the one that adopted one of the most progressive approaches to racial problems. This led to the integration of city schools to take place without significant incidents. 

In 1996, Atlanta also had the honor to host the Summer Olympic Games which was a success in general and initiated a great reconstruction of many of the city’s sporting venues, parks, and transportation infrastructure. 

On a Final Note

Atlanta is a diverse city with over 486 290 residents. The areas of Atlanta are made up of various neighborhoods and districts. Each of these neighborhoods contains a unique name and a community within that strives to make their neighborhoods special. Within each neighborhood, one can come across various attractions and annual festivals. 

Today, the heritage of Atlanta is being preserved in the Atlanta History Center, the Zoo Atlanta can be found in Grant Park, and Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located in the vast urban Piedmont Forest. 

If you are looking for adult art, then you can visit the High Museum of Art, and for children, there is the Children’s Art Museum. Carved into the side of Stone Mountain is a large memorial to the Confederacy. This Mountain can be found outside of Atlanta and used to be the meeting place for Indians before the white settlers arrived.  

The city of Atlanta developed into a big metropolis and its significant history contributes to its culture today. The history of Atlanta can be seen throughout the city in the form of monuments and old buildings and one can also explore the history in one of the many museums.

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