Atlanta is more than the home of CNN and Coca-Cola, as well as the 1996 Olympics. While it is a fairly young city (established in 1847), there are some little known, what I think are entertaining, facts about Atlanta. (The above images are my loose interpretation of the skyline in 1980 and 1970).
1. Atlanta was the fifth city to become the capital of the state of Georgia (Savannah, Augusta, Louisville and Milledgeville were first!).
2. The symbol of the city is the mythological Egyptian bird called the Phoenix, which rose from it’s ashes. Why is this symbol of Atlanta?
There was a historic fire in Atlanta that was deliberately set to burn the city.
Of course, I am referring to Sherman burning the city of Atlanta in 1864. In fact, Atlanta is considered the only U.S. city to have been destroyed by an act of war. Over 400 buildings were destroyed. Atlanta surrendered to the Union on September 2, 1864.
3. There was a second fire in Atlanta that occurred in 1917.
When the fire was stopped at 10PM, 22,000,000 gallons of water had been pumped. Fire trucks came from from nine Georgia towns, as well as from Tennessee. When it was over, 1,938 buildings were destroyed over 300 acres that spanned 72 city blocks.
More than 85% of the burned buildings were made of wood shingles.
So, the symbol of the Phoenix is appropriate for this city that continues to rebuild.
4. Atlanta hosted the Atlanta International Pop Festival, held one month prior to Woodstock. Many of the same bands played at the Atlanta festival that played at Woodstock, such as Janis Joplin among others.
5. The Atlanta Braves are the oldest continually operated professional sports franchise in the U.S. They began as the Boston Red Soxs in 1871 and moved to Atlanta in 1966.
6. The Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is honestly the world’s busiest airport. Why? Partly because you can fly to almost 80% of the U.S. within 3 hours from Atlanta. The terminal is larger than 45 football fields.
7. I know The Continental Divide is a big deal out west, but in Atlanta you can find the Eastern Continental Divide. This divides water flowing into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.
8. You can ride your bike to Alabama on the Silver Comet Trail.
9. It is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole.
10. Stone Mountain is one of the largest blocks of exposed granite in the world. And the etching on the side of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, is the largest bas-relief in the world.
11. Babe Ruth hit a home run into the tree that is behind the Whole Foods on Ponce de Leon. That was the home of the Atlanta Crackers and a magnolia tree stood in the outfield. The Babe hit a ball into the tree during an exhibition game – the tree is still there!
12. The infamous punk rock band, The Sex Pistols, played their first American show at The Great Southeast Music Hall, located in a shopping center in Atlanta. (I was there!). Here you see Johnny Rotten having his beer there.
13. Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With The Wind while recuperating from a sprained ankle. “Scarlet” was originally “Pansy”, and this was changed only six months prior to publication. “Tara” was known at “Fortenoy Hall”, and “Melanie” was almost “Permelia”. In fact, the original title was “Tomorrow is Another Day.”
14. There are over 55 streets bearing the name “Peachtree” in Atlanta. Interestingly, the Peach Tree is not native to Atlanta. It is “said” the Creek Indians had a site called “Pitch Tree”, which is what pine trees were called because of the sap (this is disputed fact.)
15. Atlanta is one of only two cities that are home to two Nobel Peace Prize Winners, Martin Luther King and President Jimmy Carter (I’m very proud of this fact actually.)
16. The Peachtree Road Race is the world’s largest 10k race, this year there were more than 60,000 participants
17. And, last but nott least, Atlanta has the largest toll-free dialing area in the world. I guess there is something to be said about Southern Hospitality.
Hope you enjoyed this. This is just a small sampling on Atlanta’s short history. I previously gave historical tours of a couple of Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods, so Atlanta’s history has always been of interest to me.