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Historic Atlanta

Atlanta began as the terminal point of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, a project authorized by the State of Georgia in 1836. Originally known as Terminus, and later Marthasville, by the Civil War Atlanta was a bustling city. Crippled by the burning of the city during the war, Atlanta rebounded during the last part of the century. Today it is home to more than 4 million people and is considered the entertainment and cultural center of the South, attracting more than 17 million travelers each year. This latest National Register of Historic Places travel itinerary highlights 70 historic places that tell the story of this capital city--from its picturesque homes to its reaching skyscrapers--tales of former slaves, educators, authors, and millionaires who have shaped the development of Atlanta over the past two centuries.

Union General William T. Sherman's occupation of Atlanta during the Civil War left much of the city in ruin, and antebellum era buildings such as the Tullie Smith House are today a rarity. Yet Atlantans rebuilt quickly as the city became the junction of three of the region's most important railroad lines, and the location for the Georgia State Capitol in 1868. The end of the 19th century brought great industrial development, with factories such as E. Van Winkle's Gin and Machine Works, lining the railroad corridors radiating from downtown. By the turn of the century, skyscrapers such as the English-American Building were dotting the city's skyline, and the dense redevelopment of downtown Atlanta had pushed residents to the edges of the city. Numerous suburban developments emerged such as West End, Inman Park, Druid Hills and Ansley Park. African Americans were establishing their own neighborhoods of Washington Park and Sweet Auburn, and institutions such as Atlanta University. Atlanta became the birthplace of the Coca-Cola empire--home to the company's founder, Asa Candler, who erected the Candler Building as a monument to himself, and the location of the early Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant. Popular authors Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind) and Joel Chandler Harris (Uncle Remus Tales) called Atlanta home, as well as major leaders in the black community such as Alonzo Herndon, a former slave who founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, and Civil Rights movement leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Information provided by:
National Park Service



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