History of Atlanta


A Chronology of the History of Atlanta

1782 - 2010

It could be argued that the history of Atlanta began at a site known as Fort Peachtree, where Peachtree Creek flows into the Chattahoochee River.

Way back when this point was the borderline between the Creek Indian lands to the south and Cherokee territories to the north, there stood a large peach tree (or, depending on who you listen to, it may have been some sort of pine, or "pitch" tree.) The tree gave the name to the nearby creek, which in turn gave the name to the main Indian trail in the area, and from that, the street, and so on.

And on this spot in 1814, the Americans built Fort Peachtree to watch over the neighborhood (and maybe also the tribes) during the War of 1812. (The fort in the picture is a latter-day recreation constructed by the Water Department, which today operates a water quality monitoring station on the site.)

Later, this spot was briefly chosen as the location where the railroads would come together to form the city of Atlanta. But later, possibly because rivers and train tracks all coming together in one place would promise too confusing, they decided to locate the terminus several miles to the east.

Here begins a more detailed chronology of Atlanta history:


§          The Indian Village of "Standing Peachtree" exists at the junction of the Chattahoochee River and Peachtree Creek.

§          Fort Gilmer (later called Fort Peachtree) built near site of "Standing Peachtree" village.


§          Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin prods the legislature to charter three railroad lines, but none of them between middle Georgia and the northern USA.


§          White Hall Tavern established by Charmer Humphries near Atlanta at the corner of present-day Gordon and Lee Streets.

§          Hardy Ivey becomes Atlanta's first permanent white settler, building his cabin at present corner of Courtland Avenue and International Blvd.


§          The state-financed Western & Atlantic Railroad, tying mid-Georgia to the north, is founded by the legislature and signed by the Governor.


§          Work to build the southern terminus of the line begins in July at Pittman Ferry, near Hog Mountain in present-day Norcross, which would be the location of present-day Atlanta had the site not been abandoned because of too many creeks, valleys, and unsatisfactory gradients.

§          The engineers switch the terminus site to Montgomery's Ferry at Ft. Gilmer, where Peachtree Creek runs into the Chattahoochee River, for a savings of $18,000 per mile.

§          The legislature changes the terminus again by extending the line several miles to what is now where Foundry St. crosses the railroad tracks, next to the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. (They felt the land at that point was more "eligible for running branch roads" of the railroads.)


§          Henry Irby buys about 200 acres north of Atlanta and erects a tavern and grocery at the northwest corner of what is now Roswell Road and West Paces Ferry Road. (Two years later, the head of a local buck was mounted on a post nearby, giving the tavern and then the area the name "Buckhead.)


§          John Thrasher and a partner named Johnson open a general store, the first store in Terminus, on land that is now the Federal Reserve Bank on Marietta Street in downtown Atlanta.



§          The chief engineer of the W&A railroad resigns, declining a half share in land along present Marietta Street, saying that "Terminus will be a good location for one tavern, a blacksmith shop, a grocery store, and nothing else."


§          Willis and Julia Carlisle move to Terminus from Marietta, putting their grocery store/home across from what is now the Federal Reserve Bank. Their child, Julia, born in August, is the first Atlanta baby. (She died in 1919.)

§          The settlement of six buildings and 30 inhabitants gets a name change, from "Terminus" to "Marthasville," after the daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin. (The City’s founding fathers wanted to initially just call the town "Lumpkin," but were persuaded to name it after his daughter, Martha, instead.)

§          The new depot, now the tallest building in town, is built. It is two stories tall.


§          Thirty-three miles of track north of Marthasville are reported as having been laid.


§          William T. Sherman, a 23-year old Army lieutenant, passes through Marthasville on his way to his assignment in nearby Marietta, Ga. Sherman to later order the burning of Atlanta during the Civil War.

§          Marthasville commissioners try to levy a tax to open new streets but are turned down by residents, who say their seven streets (Marietta, Decatur, Peachtree, Whitehall, Pryor, Alabama and Loyd) are enough.


§          The name "Atlanta" is suggested to replace "Marthasville" by John Thomson, chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad. The name, shortened from the mouthful "Atlantica-Pacifica," becomes popular with residents, and the name change becomes official later in the year.

§          The first train to reach Atlanta, a Georgia Railroad freight, arrives after a one-hour journey from Decatur, Ga. to the east. (That trip now takes fifteen minutes by car.)

§          The next day, the first passenger train arrives, from Augusta, Ga., carrying Georgia Railroad president John P. King, who then stepped off the train in the dark and fell into a well. According to one observer, he was "highly disgusted and for years would not buy Atlanta real estate."

§          George Washington Collier opens a grocery at what is now Five Points, which later serves as Atlanta's first post office in 1846.

§          The first Jewish families, of Jacob Haas and Herman Levi, arrive and open a dry goods store on Whitehall St.



§          A third railroad, the Macon & Western, enters Atlanta.

§          Atlanta's first and second hotels, the Atlanta Hotel, between Whitehall, Pryor, Decatur and Wall Streets, and Washington Hall, facing Loyd (now Central) Street, open. (Both were later destroyed in the war.)

§          Atlanta's first and second newspapers, "The Luminary" and the weekly "Enterprise," begin publication, both lasting only a year or two.


§          The town of Atlanta is incorporated, with town limits defined as a one-mile radius from the mile marker at the depot. A movement had already begun to move the state capital from Milledgeville to Atlanta. Atlanta has 30 stores, several hotels and private schools, at least one house of worship, and a population of about 2,500.


§          Moses Formwalt becomes Atlanta's first mayor, defeating Jonathan Norcross for the job. The polling place is Thomas Kil's grocery at present-day Five Points in downtown; 215 voters show up.

§          The first Atlanta Board of Aldermen and City Council meeting (At the time the City of Atlanta had a bicameral form of government similar to today’s Congressional House and Senate) approves wooden sidewalks, a ban on Sunday business, and a marshal for the new town. The first Board of Aldermen/City Council also imposes the violations for certain infractions such as: shooting a pistol in the city limits and keeping open doors on the Sabbath – which would have cost a violator $1.50. But the oddest fine levied was a $1 fine imposed against a Mr. Ed Elliott for not removing a dead cow from a city street.

§          September Crime Spree: Atlanta's first homicide, end of a family feud, occurs when William Terrell stabs James McWilliams; Terrell gets four years hard labor. Also, Judge Francis Cone stabs Alexander Stephens at the Atlanta Hotel; Stephens survives, later becomes Governor of the state, then Vice President of the Confederacy.

§          The first town jail, so flimsy that prisoners could tip it over to escape, is erected at Pryor and Alabama Streets.


§          The W&A Railroad track to Chattanooga, 138 miles to the north, is completed.

§          The Board of Aldermen/City Council okays a 30 cents per $100 value property tax, little of which ever gets collected. The town also issues six-month $500 municipal bonds.

§          Atlanta gets its first telegraph line, connecting the town to Macon.

§          P.T. Barnum and his huge elephant, Tipo Sultan, are star attractions at the Southern Central Agricultural Society Fair held at Stone Mountain.


§          The "fast passenger train" to Dalton makes the 99-mile trip in a mere seven hours.

§          Every slave sale in Atlanta is taxed $1.

§          The Board of Aldermen/City Council hires two night watchmen at $20 per month each to patrol the town from 10 p.m. to dawn.

§  Atlanta Census: 2058 whites, 18 free African Americans, 493 slaves. Among main jobs:

70 carpenters, 38 merchants, 11 clerks, 10 farmers, 10 grocers, and eight clergymen.  

§          The city buys land that becomes Oakland Cemetery. (According to tradition, its first occupant feared being buried alive and arranged for a doctor to slit his body's throat before it was put in the ground.)


§          Mayor Norcross, who had run on "law & order" platform, cleans up the town and survives personal threats from town ruffians.


§          Bank of Atlanta becomes first bank chartered in Atlanta. (It goes out of business three years later.)

§          Freight cars are being manufactured in Atlanta at the factory of Joseph Winship.


§          The Board of Aldermen/City Council forms three-man police force and approves oil-burning street lamps, the oil to be supplied by residents.

§          Grand openings: Atlanta gets its first hospital (mostly to deal with smallpox), its first public school (The Holland Free School, which did not survive past the war), and a central market on Market Street.

§          Atlanta exceeds 6,000 population and outgrows DeKalb County (Decatur being county seat) and Fulton County is formed, with Atlanta its seat.


§          The Board of Aldermen/City Council okays plan for gas lighting, bans hogs from streets, and continues attempts to make Atlanta the state capital.

§          City Hall opens on four acres of land bought the year before (land that now sits under the state capitol building.)

§          The Examiner, Atlanta's first daily newspaper, launches. One week later, the Intelligencer goes daily.

§          Atlanta's first theatre, the Athenaeum, opens on the second floor of a brick building on Decatur Street, between Peachtree and Prior Streets.

§          A new 100-by-300 foot passenger depot made of brick opens to serve all four railroads. (It is destroyed in the war in 1864.)



§          Philadelphian William Helme erects a gas works (using coal) to illuminate streets and buildings of Atlanta, talking the Board of Aldermen/City Council into buying 40% of his $50,000 worth of stock. The first lights go on Christmas day.

§          The Fulton County Grand Jury warns of an "evil of vast magnitude, the herds of unruly and vicious boys who infest the streets of the city ... by day and night, especially on the Sabbath, to the great annoyance of (the) citizens..."

§          The founding of Atlanta Medical College which, in 1915 joins with other medical schools to form part of Emory University.

§          Mayor Allison Nelson abruptly resigns office after power struggle between he and the Board of Aldermen/City Council. The legislative body reduced a fine the Mayor imposed on two men for fighting and using foul language on a city street. Nelson heads back to Texas on horseback. He is never heard from again. John Glen takes over as acting Mayor.


§          Atlanta population: About 8,000.

§          Helme's gas works granted corporate charter as Atlanta Gas Light Company, which still exists today.


§          The "National American" newspaper begins publication. (In 1861, after secession, it changes it will change its name to the "Gate City Guardian.")


§          Atlanta's first public park is built on land bounded by the streets of Decatur, Pryor, Loyd (now Central) and the passenger depot.


§          The Board of Aldermen/City Council ignores petition of white dentists to prohibit the practice of black dentist Roderick D. Badger. (Badger practiced until his death in 1891.)


§          A Mercantile Association meets to remedy discrimination against the city, by boycotting northern merchants. The group is the forerunner of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

§          Senator Stephen A. Douglas, candidate for President, comes to Atlanta and speaks against secession.

§          Presidential votes cast by Atlantans: 1,070 for John Bell of Tennessee and VP Edward Everett of Massachusetts (Constitutional Union Party), 835 for John Breckinridge of Kentucky and VP Joseph Lane of Oregon (Southern Democrat), 336 for Stephen Douglas of Illinois and VP Herschel Johnson of Georgia (Democrat). The winners, Republicans Abraham Lincoln of Illinois and VP Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, were not on the ballot.

§          Board of Aldermen/City Council donates six 15-by-30 foot lots to Atlanta's Jews for burials in the Atlanta City (Oakland) Cemetery.



§          Atlanta has a ten-second earthquake on the afternoon of January 3.

§          Secession Convention at Milledgeville votes 208 to 89 in favor, making Georgia the fourth state to leave the union.

§          Confederate States President Jefferson Davis visits Atlanta and is given a party at the Trout House hotel, near Five Points.


§          Atlanta becomes the war supplier of the south, manufacturing railroad cars, revolvers, cannon, knives, saddles and spurs, buttons and belt buckles, tents and canteens.

§          Atlanta now being a military post, martial law is established.

§          Smallpox hospital constructed to deal with the epidemic in the city.


§          Col. L.P. Grant begins supervising construction of fortifications around the city, including the ferries on the Chattahoochee River.

§          Mayor James Calhoun issues a proclamation noting "the more than probability of an early raid on this city," (Federals having two months earlier raided Rome, Georgia), "...I do now request every citizen able to bear arms ... to enroll their names upon some company list..."

§          By military order, whiskey can no longer be sold in retail stores.

§          Gen. Howell Cobb is named commander of Georgia state troops, headquartered in Atlanta.

§          A private female institute, located on corner of Courtland and Ellis streets since 1860, is taken over for a Confederate hospital, relocating the school to the Neal home at Washington and Mitchell streets, now the site of Atlanta City Hall. (In the following year, Yankee Gen. Sherman will take over the Neal house for his Atlanta headquarters.)


§          In early May, union Gen. William T. Sherman  Atlanta in July, 1864begins moving his troops out of Chattanooga, along the railroad route toward Atlanta.

§          Mayor James Calhoun calls on all capable males to report for induction into military units, adding "All male citizens who are not willing to defend their home and families are requested to leave the city at their earliest convenience, as their presence only embarrasses the authorities and tends to the demoralization of others."

§          The Battle of Peachtree Creek (in present-day Tanyard Park on Collier Road, near Piedmont Hospital) is a victory for the north. A Union colonel in that battle, Benjamin Harrison, will go on to be a US President.

§          Shells are lobbed into the city from the north of town. Confederate and Union soldiers meet in what becomes known as the Battle of Atlanta, which results in the death of Confederate General William Walker and one of Sherman's top generals, James B. McPherson.

§          West of Atlanta, the battle of Ezra Church ends in what some historians called the most one-sided victory of the war for the Yankees, who sustained 600 casualties to the Rebels' three-to-five thousand.

§          In Jonesboro, Ga., Union soldiers succeed in totally isolating nearby Atlanta by destroying the rails from the south. Hood is forced to evacuate Atlanta, setting fire to major supply dumps on the way out of town.

§          On September 2, Mayor James Calhoun leads a city delegation northwest on Marietta Street to seek out Union troops to surrender the city. He finds some and does so at what is now the corner of Marietta and Northside Drive.

§          Sherman orders civilians out of the city, despite the protests of Gen. Hood.

§          U.S. President Abraham Lincoln wins re-election on November 8.

§          More than two months after taking the town of Atlanta, Sherman orders it burned, leaving only 400 structures. This includes five churches, thanks to the personal pleadings of Father Thomas O'Reilly, an Irish Catholic priest.

§          The next day, Sherman marches his troops to the south, beginning the "march to the sea," planning to live off the land on the journey rather than maintaining a supply line back to Union territory.

§          About a week later, the Confederates reoccupy the burned city, and civilians begin returning. Newly re-elected Mayor Calhoun looks into the city treasury and finds $1.64.


§          Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, Lincoln is shot less than a week later and dies.

§          On May 16, the American flag is officially raised over Atlanta and immediately lowered to honor the assassinated president.

§          Mayor Calhoun, leading first public meeting since Sherman captured the town, deplores Lincoln's assassination, and calls for restoration of commercial ties with the north.

§          Board of Aldermen/City Council vows equal application of laws to whites and African Americans.

§          The Atlanta National Bank is chartered, which will later become First National Bank of Atlanta, then First Atlanta, and finally Wachovia.

§          A school for black children, the first in Atlanta, opens in an old church building on Armstrong Street.



§          By the end of the year, Atlanta boasts 22 private schools but no public schools. The legislature approves a public-school system, but lacking funds, none exists until 1873.

§          Atlanta's population: 10,940 whites, 9,288 blacks. The city limits are extended one-half mile outward from the zero-mile post (near present Underground Atlanta), making Atlanta three miles across.

§          Atlanta Gas Light Co starts lighting the streets again for the first time since Sherman burned the place.

§          Italian opera is performed in Atlanta for the first time, and opera becomes all the rage.


§          Morris Rich, 19 years old, opens a small store on Whitehall Street. (It is the precursor of the Rich's department store chain, bought out 100 years later by rival Macy's.)

§          The first soda fountain in Atlanta opens in the Redwine & Fox drug store at Whitehall & Alabama Streets.

§          Atlanta University is chartered.

§          The Federal Government leases property southwest of the city for encamping soldiers. The location, at that time a racetrack, later became site of Ft. McPherson and Spelman College.

§          Atlanta is named headquarters of the Third Military District under the U.S. Reconstruction Act, and Gen. John S. Pope is put in command.

§          Gen. Pope issues orders allowing African Americans to serve on juries, ordering Mayor James Williams to remain in office another year, and banning city advertising in newspapers that don't favor reconstruction.

§          President Andrew Johnson issues order removing Gen. Pope from his Atlanta command. Gen. George G. Meade soon replaces him.

§          A convention convenes in Atlanta to draw up a new constitution for the state.


§          Gen. Meade removes Gov. Jenkins and the State treasurer from office for refusing to pay $40,000 toward costs of the Constitutional Convention.

§          In April, elections are held, approving Atlanta as the new state capital and naming as governor Republican Rufus Bullock, who defeated the Democratic candidate, former Confederate Gen. John B. Gordon.

§          On June 16, the Atlanta Constitution puts out its first edition. The following month, it editorializes that "We return to the Union ... under a Constitution and a state government which has no foundations in the affection of our people ... By the enfranchisement of the lowest class ... and the wholesale disenfranchisement of our best citizens, we have certainly taken a retrograde movement..."

§          Kimball opera house chosen as temporary state Capitol. The building, at the southeast corner of Marietta and Forsyth streets, served until the present capitol building opened in 1889.


§          Georgia Railroad freight depot opens at what is now the entrance to Underground Atlanta.

§          Dr. Albert Hape and Prof. Samuel A. King become the first locals to go up in a balloon. (Hape's brother later will found the city of Hapeville, future home the Atlanta's airport.)

§          A coeducational black school that will later become Clark College is founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church's Freedman's Aid Society.


§          The Georgia Legislature ratifies the 15th Amendment and the state is readmitted to the Union.

§          Oglethorpe University, which was once located in Milledgeville, reopens in Atlanta with 11 instructors.

§          Hannibal Kimball builds a new hotel in Atlanta with central heat and elevators.

§          Radical Republican Dennis Hammond is elected mayor and the new Board of Aldermen/City Council gets its first two black members.

§          Atlanta population: 21,789 residents living on about nine square miles.


§          A street railway company, owned by George Adair and Richard Peters, starts up with the first line running two miles to the barracks at Ft. McPherson, from 7 am to 10 pm.

§          A survey of city businesses shows Atlanta has 76 doctors, 46 lawyers, 20 billiard tables and a skating rink.



§          The city school system opens. By the end of the year, the Boys and Girls high schools and seven grade schools will have 2,075 students enrolled.

§          A water company begins delivering bottled water by wagon from Ponce de Leon Springs (near today's City Hall East, the old Sears building on Ponce De Leon Avenue).

§          The street railway as of this year includes lines on Peachtree and Decatur Streets and Ponce De Leon Avenue.




§          Citizens Bank of Georgia opens.

§          Free mail delivery begins in Atlanta with the first letter going to grocer John C. Hallman. At the insistence of Postmaster J.L. Dunning and at city expense, all houses are supplied with enamel signs with streets numbers painted on them.

§          Thomas Jones is named the first chief of police to head a force numbering 26 tin-helmeted men.


§          Daily Herald Editor Henry W. Grady uses the term “The New South” in a published statement.

§          Whitehall Street Railway opens and, with the completion of a bridge over Clear Creek, the Peachtree Street Railway extends all the way to Ponce de Leon Springs.


§          Police Chief Jones urges the Board of Aldermen/City Council to increase the pay of lieutenants to $100 per month and patrolmen to $75 per month. Chief Jones is soon then fired.

§          A dam is raised 51-feet over Poole's Creek to supply the city water system. 


§          Evan Howell buys half of the Atlanta Constitution and then names Henry W. Grady its managing editor, who himself then hires Joel Chandler Harris (who will later create the Uncle Remus stories) as a $25 per week "paragrapher."

§          John Wilkes Booth's brother, Edwin, plays "Hamlet" to a standing-room-only crowd.

§          The Park Medical Institute, at Marietta and Peachtree Streets, advertises a guaranteed "Painless and Permanent Cure for The Opium and Morphine Habit..."


§          President Rutherford B. Hayes becomes first sitting American president to visit Atlanta.

§          The city's first telephone line runs from Union Station to the Western & Atlantic Railroad depot.


§          A weather bureau begins operation in the Kimball House hotel.

§          A Baptist college moves from Augusta to Atlanta. It will go through several name changes and eventually become Morehouse College.



§          Fifteen years after ordering the burning of Atlanta, Gen. |William “Billy” Sherman revisits the town in January, attending a ball at McPherson Army Barracks. Sherman is surprised as the City’s Resurgence from the Ashes.

§          A street linking Decatur Street with Ponce is opened, later to be named Boulevard. The Constitution calls it "Atlanta's best drive."

§          Prominent citizens Martin and Susan DeFoor, for which Defoors Ferry Road in northwest Atlanta will be named, are axed to death in a murder that to this day has never been solved.


§          Morris Brown College founded.

§          By threatening to cut off the streetlights, the city forces a rate reduction on coal gas to $23 per light per year.

§          Atlanta population: 37,409, making it the largest city in Georgia.

§          When school opens in September, 3,328 students attend, while 300 six and seven year olds are turned away for lack of room.

§          Joel Chandler Harris publishes the first in his Uncle Remus series.


§          The International Cotton Exposition, America's first "World's Fair" of a sort, is held in Atlanta's Oglethorpe Park. Seven foreign countries participate.

§          Southern Bell buys out a small telephone operation and opens the first telephone switchboard exchange.

§          Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary opens. It later moves to McPherson Barracks and becomes Spelman Seminary, later to become Spelman College.


§          Amid public demand for more city parks, Col. L.P. Grant offers 100 acres just east of town, later to become Grant Park, home of Zoo Atlanta and the Cyclorama, and a surrounding neighborhood to bear its name.

§          Young law student and future U.S. President Woodrow Wilson moves to town, is admitted to the bar, and sets his up office at 48 Marietta Street.


§          The Atlanta Journal, an evening paper, is launched by Edward Hoge. A subscription costs 10 cents a week.

§          In what some called the "biggest blaze since Sherman," the huge Kimball House hotel is gutted by fire. The Atlanta Journal hits the streets with the city's first "extra" edition. A new Kimball house is planned and construction begins.


§          Plans are announced for a Southern baseball league to include Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock and Atlanta.

§          The telephone company says it has 450 customers. The only long distance service available is to nearby Decatur, Ga., and costs 15 cents per five minutes.

§          City Hall is demolished and the ground is broken on that site for the new (and present) state Capitol.


§          Prohibitionists win a referendum barring liquor from Fulton County. (Two years later, another referendum will make the county wet again.)

§          Fearing Fulton going dry will hurt sales of his French Wine Cola, pharmacist John Pemberton goes into his lab at his 107 Marietta St home and comes out with a new headache remedy he calls Coca-Cola.


§          Pemberton's Coca-Cola formula is dispensed for the first time at Jacobs Pharmacy at the southwest corner of Peachtree and Marietta streets (the site of what is now the Wachovia tower).

§          The state establishes a technological school and Atlanta beats out other cities for what will become Georgia Tech.

§          Henry Grady, city father, journalist and orator who helped reintegrate the states of the former Confederacy into the Union after the American Civil War, declares the reality of "The New South," thus popularizing the phrase, in a speech at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City also attended by Gen. William Sherman.


§          A circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta by a group of German artists goes on display in Detroit. The picture is 50 feet high, 400 feet around, and cost $40,000.

§          The Piedmont Exposition opens on the property of the newly formed Driving Club, later to become Piedmont Park.

§          Hoke Smith, a 37-year-old attorney, buys into the Atlanta Journal for $10,000 and becomes its president.


§          Steam-powered streetcars begin service to Grant Park.

§          The city contracts for 400 electric streetlights for $30 per light per year.


§          The new Capitol building is delivered for $188.43 under the $1-million appropriation.

§          George Gress buys a bankrupt circus and donates the animals to the city to found a zoo.

§          The city's first electric streetcars are used on Joel Hurt's new Edgewood Avenue line to Inman Park.

§          Decatur Female Seminary opens in Decatur with 57-day students and three boarders. It will later become Agnes Scott College.

§          Henry Grady dies.


§          The circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta is auctioned to Paul Atkinson of Georgia.

§          Atlanta population: 65,533. (African Americans make up 43%).

§          Atlanta toilet census: 2,829 indoor; about 9,000 in outhouses.


§          The water commission recommends plan for delivering "10 million gallons of Chattahoochee river water daily" to Atlanta, two replace the aging artesian well system at Five Points. Before speculators get word, Mayor William Hemphill quietly buys up the 200 acres for the new site and a strip of land from it to the city (which will later become Hemphill Avenue). The water will begin flowing two years later.

§          President Benjamin Harrison comes to town. When he asks to visit the site of the Battle of Peachtree Creek in which he fought, the guide takes him to the wrong creek, so he never gets to see it.

§          Asa Candler buys Coca-Cola for $2,300. (Next year, he will incorporate it.)


§          Score of the city's first intercollegiate football game: Auburn 10, University of Georgia 0.

§          The new Grady Memorial Hospital on Butler Street is dedicated with 100 beds and 10 rooms for "pay patients."



§          A new opera house, DeGive's Grand Theatre, opens on Peachtree. (It will become the first theatre in town with electric lights, the host of the world premiere of "Gone With The Wind" in 1939, and will burn in 1978.)

§          Wheat Street is renamed Auburn Avenue – which would be a prominent street for the city black residents and merchants for generations to come.



§          The waterworks property and lake on the Southside is converted for recreational use, including rowboats and launches on the lake, a bathhouse, a music stand and open-air theatre, and a "large and elegant pavilion." It will open the next year as Lakewood Park.

§          Several rail systems serving Atlanta are reorganized (by J.P. Morgan and others) as the Southern Railway.


§          The huge Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895 opens in Piedmont Park with a switch thrown long-distance by Pres. Cleveland in Buzzard's Bay, Mass. Before the 6,000-exhibit fair closes in December (after running up a nearly $3-million tab), it will be the temporary home of the Liberty Bell, and will be visited by over 800,000 visitors, including the president and his cabinet. One expo attraction: Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. John Philip Sousa will compose "King Cotton March" in honor of the fair and premiere it there.

§          Among speeches at the exposition is the famous "Atlanta Compromise" address of Booker T. Washington, who pleas that African Americans compromise their demands for the sake of getting jobs. Whites cheer while many African Americans are critical.


§          Atlanta University Professor W.E.B. DuBois begins leading conferences on living conditions of urban African Americans. DuBois will later be a founder of the NAACP.

§          Atlanta's first golf course built: seven-holes laid out on the grounds of the Piedmont Driving Club.

§          In an unprecedented use of power and in the absence of Mayor Porter King and 10 out of 19 members of the Board of Aldermen/City Council, the City Clerk issues an arrest warrant to subpoena any member of the city’s general assembly not in attendance at the Feb. 3, 1896 meeting. An additional member was needed for a quorum to conduct the meeting, in accordance to the City Charter.  According to an Atlanta Constitution report on Feb. 4, 1896, Clerk Phillips declared himself acting Mayor in the absence of Mayor King and (to the amusement of many in attendance) ordered the marshal to: “search the highways and byways and bring in any absentee – even if you have to go to Philadelphia.” (Many members of the city’s legislative body and Mayor King were visiting Philadelphia that week.) The marshal did find a junior councilman, Mr. Maddox, from the second ward and escorted him to the meeting.


§          The English-American Building, now known as the Flatiron Building, is erected on Peachtree north of Five Points.


§          The city accepts the Battle of Atlanta painting as a gift, provided it spends at least $1,000 to house it.

§          Named headquarters of the new military Department of the Gulf in anticipation of the invasion of Cuba, Atlanta devotes the entire year to participation of the Spanish-American War, culminating in the December visit of Pres. William McKinley and some of his cabinet for a post-war Peace Jubilee.



§          Eugene Mitchell, president of the Young Men's Library Association, reads in a newspaper that Andrew Carnegie is giving away money to cities for the purpose of establishing public libraries. Through a friend, Mitchell contacts Carnegie, and as a result, the steel magnate offers $100,000 for a free public library in Atlanta if the city provides the land and at least $5,000 per year upkeep.


§          The Atlanta Coca-Cola Bottling Company is licensed by Coca-Cola to bottle the beverage locally. It begins operation in a building that still stands at 125 Edgewood Ave.


§          After years of traffic dodging trains where Peachtree and Whitehall Streets meet, a bridge is finally built over the tracks. (This bridge begins the process that will result in Underground Atlanta.)

§          Baptist Tabernacle Infirmary and Training School for Christian Nurses is founded, later to become Georgia Baptist Medical Center.


§          The Atlanta Federal Penitentiary opens with the transfer of six convicts from Sing Sing in New York.

§          Carnegie Library opens.

§          A race riot, later known as the "Pittsburgh Riot" after that section of the city, leaves three policemen, two black and one white civilian dead.


§          George Washington Collier, Atlanta's longest surviving early settler, dies.

§          Edwin Ansley begins developing a neighborhood that will bear his name.

§          The Independent begins publication. It is Atlanta's first black newspaper.


§          A bad year for the relatively new invention called the “automobile”: After one of Atlanta's first auto accidents (car collides with trolley and horse-drawn surrey on Peachtree; car was wrecked, horse was fine), the Board of Aldermen/City Council says drivers must get license from city clerk and sets speed limit of 8 MPH in the city. Less than two months later, a Marietta chemist dies after losing control of his car on Marietta Street, becoming Atlanta's first auto accident fatality.




§          The new Terminal Station opens at Mitchell Street and Madison Avenue.

§          Pres. and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt arrive in Atlanta after a visit to his mother's home in Roswell.

§          Under leadership of former slave and ex-barber Alonzo Herndon, the Atlanta Life Insurance Company is formed. Herndon is Atlanta's first black millionaire. His home still stands near Morris Brown College and is open to visitors.


§          The 17-story Candler Building (still standing today) is dedicated on Peachtree and Houston Streets.

§          Four days of race rioting in September leave ten African Americans and two whites dead. A report issued by the Chamber of Commerce blames whites for the disturbances. The riot began after a gubernatorial campaign in which one candidate, Hoke Smith (of Atlanta Journal and Grover Cleveland cabinet fame), promised to take away the black vote.


§          Prohibition wins a state referendum but Atlanta bars win right to sell "near beer."

§          Joel Chandler Harris dies at age 59. The Uncle Remus Memorial Association is formed and will eventually buy his home, "Wren's Nest," and keep it up in his honor.


§          Atlanta Taxicab Company introduces the city to taxis, eight of them. The fare is 30 cents for the first half-mile, then 10 cents each additional quarter mile.

§          The Atlanta Crackers win the pennant of the Southern League.

§          Atlanta's first black-owned bank, Atlanta State Savings Bank, is formed.


§          Atlanta's population: 154,839 with 33.5 percent being black.


§          Winner of the city junior golf championship: Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones, 9. It would be the beginning of a great golf career.

§          Grand opening of the Georgian Terrace Hotel on Peachtree and Ponce.



§          On April 26, at the National Pencil Factory, Mary Phagan is murdered. Leo Frank is arrested for the nationally famous crime; he will be convicted and later lynched by an anti-Semitic mob in 1915. About sixty years later, Frank will be pardoned.

§          The Winecoff Hotel opens on Peachtree Street.


§          The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta opens on the second floor of the Hurt Building, with $4-million in gold.


§          The Educational Commission of the Methodist Church having announced its decision the previous summer to establish a university, Emory University is granted a charter. Coke's Asa Candler had pledged $1-million to the school.

§          Gutzon Borglum of New York visits Atlanta to see if Stone Mountain is suitable for a huge sculpture of Confederate heroes.


§          Board of Aldermen/City Council approves the purchase of trucks to  replace some of the horses in the Atlanta Fire Department. The measure provided for faster response to fires in the growing city.

§          With the urging of citizens, Asa Candler of Coca-Cola runs for mayor and wins.


§          The "Hanson Six" automobile, selling for about $1,000, is manufactured in Atlanta.

§          Fires start all over Atlanta, burning almost two thousand houses and leaving one person dead and 10,000 (mostly African Americans) homeless.


§          The Federal Reserve Bank opens on Marietta Street.


§          Isadore M. Weinstein, an Atlanta war vet, opens a shop on Walker Street to supply linens to restaurants. The company later becomes the National Linen Service.

§          Asa Candler sells the Coca-Cola Company to a group led by Ernest Woodruff for $25-million. The Woodruff family takes the company to worldwide prominence.

§          One year before the nation ratifies the 19th Amendment, 4,000 women vote in the primaries in Atlanta.



§          A referendum for reading the Bible in public schools passes 7,631 to 1,865.

§          Atlanta population: 200,616.


§          The Cyclorama building is dedicated in Grant Park. The fireproof building houses the circular painting of the Battle of Atlanta.


§          WSB, the first commercial broadcast station licensed in the South, is granted. The radio station is owned The Atlanta Journal. The Constitution soon begins broadcasting on its WGM, but later donates it to Georgia Tech, renamed WGST.

§          Rebecca Latimer Felton of DeKalb County is selected to fill the office of late Sen. Tom Watson, thereby becoming the first woman member of the U.S. Senate. She served one day.

§          Atlanta Constitution reporter Bessie Kempton becomes the first woman to win a seat in the Georgia Legislature.


§          Robert Woodruff named president of Coca-Cola.

§          The million-dollar Spring Street viaduct opens.

§          Borglum beings carving the face of Robert E. Lee on the side of Stone Mountain.


§          The fabulous Biltmore Hotel opens at a cost of $6-million.

§          A municipal farmers' market opens on Edgewood Avenue, next to what is now the entrance to the interstate.


§          The Stone Mountain Memorial Association cancels Gutzon Borglum's contract. He then destroys the models and flees the town. He is replaced by Augustus Lukeman, who begins his work by blasting away Borglum's work. (Borglum later went on to carve Mt. Rushmore.)


§          Mrs. H.M. High donates her home to Atlanta on the condition it become an art museum. It opens in October.  The multi-million dollar High Museum of Art still carries her name.

§          Air Mail service begins between Atlanta and Miami.

§          Asa Candler donates 53 acres to the city, which becomes Candler Park.

§          The Sears Roebuck building begins construction on Ponce de Leon. It later becomes City Hall East.


§          R.H. Macy, having purchased Davison-Paxon-Stokes two years prior, opens the six-story Davison's department store at Peachtree and Ellis streets.


§          The Stone Mountain carving design is unveiled but the project is put on hold due to lack of funds, and Stone Mountain's owners, the Venable family, reclaim the mountain, unfinished carving and all.

§          Egleston Hospital for Children opens.

§          General Motors opens a plant in Lakewood.


§          Georgia Tech wins the Rose Bowl.

§          Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler dies.

§          The Fox Theatre opens.

§          Under the leadership of Alderman William B. Hartsfield, the city buys land for a city airport, an old crop dusting strip named Candler Field. Daily flights between Atlanta and Birmingham begin.


§          The new 14-story City Hall on Mitchell Street opens at a cost of $1-million. The building still stands today and serves as the City Hall Tower, which includes many city bureaus and offices. During its heydays, the building was touted as the grandest City Hall in the South.

§          Manufactured gas is replaced by natural gas, which begins arriving in pipelines from Louisiana.

§          Air passenger service between New York and Atlanta begins, followed next year by Atlanta-Miami service. Atlanta is added to the coast-to-coast airmail route.

§          The Fulton County Grand Jury probe of Atlanta municipal graft results in 15 convictions and ousting of many office-holders at the polls.


§          Southern Bell installs dial service.

§          Atlanta votes to keep itself on Central Standard Time (slow time). The city is currently on Eastern Standard Time.



§          Fulton County is enlarged by the merger into it of Milton and Campbell counties.

§          Anticipating that the whites-only primary will be someday declared unconstitutional, black leaders set up citizenship schools to teach African Americans how to register to vote.

§          Atlanta's first air terminal, at Candler Field, is dedicated.


§          It's the depression, and the city Finance Committee cuts municipal salaries by 20 percent. City banks deny credit to City Hall unless it cuts the $14-million budget by $1-million.

§          Eastern Air Transport moves its headquarters to Atlanta (and will soon change its name to Eastern Airlines).


§          Construction of Atlanta's new sewer system, financed by the federal Public Works Administration, is begun. Prior, half of all sewage was dumped in streams leading to the Chattahoochee River.

§          Coca-Cola helps bail out the city of Atlanta from its $1-million-plus deficit by advancing it $800,000.

§          Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, leads a voter registration march to City Hall. Retired railroad mail clerk John Wesley Dobbs organizes the Atlanta Civil and Political League to encourage black involvement in politics.


§          President Roosevelt dedicates Techwood Homes, the nation’s first federally assisted public housing project. He then visits University Homes, Techwood's black counterpart.


§          Gone With The Wind is published.

§          Coca-Cola says it will back the financially strapped City’s payroll, allowing Atlanta scrip to be honored at face value by banks.

§          Former Alderman William B. Hartsfield elected mayor.  Hartsfield displayed a can-do tenacity as he wrestled with the problems of a city racked by the Depression and administrative chaos. Within three years, he overhauled the police and fire departments, increased revenues and brought bookkeeping procedures into the 20th century. To cap it off, Hartsfield hosted the world at the premiere of the film "Gone With the Wind" in December 1939.


§          GWTW author Margaret Mitchell wins the Pulitzer for her book.

§          The Atlanta Journal opens Radio station WAGA.


§          The nation's first air traffic control tower opens for business at the Atlanta Airport.

§          U.S. 41, Georgia's first four-lane highway, opens between Atlanta and Marietta.

§          Ralph McGill is named executive editor and columnist of the Constitution.


§          The movie "Gone With The Wind" has its world premiere at Leow's Grand Theatre on Peachtree.

§          Former 1920 Democratic presidential candidate James M. Cox buys The Atlanta Journal and its WSB radio station. He also buys out the Journal's competitors and closes them down.

§          The Catholic Co-Cathedral of Christ the King is dedicated on land once owned by the Ku Klux Klan, whose Imperial Wizard is invited to the ceremony.


§          Atlanta's population: 302,288, of which about one-third are black.

§          Work to build the Atlanta Naval Air Station, today's Peachtree DeKalb Airport, begins.

§          A series of floggings in Fulton County are traced to the KKK, ten members of which are indicted.

§          Throughout 1940, Mayor Hartsfield failed to notice the popularity of mayoral challenger Roy LeCraw, an ambitious insurance man and former Chamber of Commerce president.  When the votes were in that fall, LeCraw had eked out a victory.  Hartsfield loss partly because of his insistence that City police chase down speeders and crush the "bug," a well-entrenched illegal lottery that operated throughout the city. The crackdown on speeders in particularly nourished resentments. Many motorists - some nailed a dozen times or more for going 30 in a 25-mph zone - began to see the practice as an annoying way of generating revenue. Besides, the mayor was a notoriously reckless driver, according to Atlanta newspapers.

§          Hartsfield later issued his famous quote about running for re-election. He said: "You've got to fight every time. You could pave the streets with gold, reduce taxes to a nickel a year and scent the sewers with Chanel No. 5 - and they wouldn't remember you unless you reminded them."


§          Delta Airlines moves its headquarters to Atlanta. Delta Airlines began operations in 1924 as the world's first crop dusting service and was named in honor of the Mississippi Delta.

§          Four New Deal housing projects -- Capitol Homes, Egan, Grady, and Herndon -- are completed, bringing the number of Atlanta federally funded projects to eight.

§          Governor Eugene Talmadge says he will withhold newsworthy information from The Journal and The Constitution unless they "correct their attitude."



§          Marietta named as home of the Bell assembly plant of B-29 bombers, predicted to bring 40,000 jobs.

§          Atlanta Mayor Roy LeCraw resigns to enlist in the army. William Hartsfield is elected to replace him (and will be at that post through 1961.)

§          Atlanta population in December: 473,800, according to the Chamber of Commerce. The area begins to surpass its sister city, Birmingham, Ala., as the most populated metropolitan area in the South and Southeast business center, despite a lack of natural resources, such as coal and iron ore.


§          Mayor Hartsfield, who by now had gained a reputation as one of Atlanta’s biggest sales men and boosters, purposes the city subsidize development of unused residential neighborhoods in hopes of persuading residents not to move away after the war.


§          Atlanta pays the lowest wages in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

§          Among prominent Atlanta African Americans who failed an attempt to vote in Georgia's all-white primary are Martin Luther King Sr. and Professor Clarence Bacote, head of Atlanta University's history department, although all of them were registered to vote in the general election.


§          A train carrying the body of FDR north passes through Atlanta a day after his death in Warm Springs, GA.


§          119 people die when the Winecoff Hotel burns, even now listed as one of the worst fire tragedies in the nation's history. The hotel will reopen in 1951 as the Peachtree Hotel.

§          The U.S. Supreme Court rules the Georgia all-white primary unconstitutional in the case of Chapman vs King. A massive two-month voter drive raises the number of Atlanta African Americans registered from under 7,000 to over twenty-four thousand.

§          Governor-elect Eugene Talmadge dies before taking office, leaving the state in confusion as to who legally succeeds him.


§          The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is formed.

§          Voters defeat Mayor Hartsfield’s plan to annex Buckhead and Cascade Heights.

§          The city's high schools end their gender segregation. Tech High and Boys High combine to become coed Grady High, while Girls High becomes coed Roosevelt High.

§          The Board of Aldermen/City Council okays hiring black policemen, but the police union wins a stay order preventing it.


§          The stay order is overturned and eight black policemen are hired.

§          WSB-TV, the South's first TV station, goes on the air. The Rich Foundation gives WABE to the Atlanta Public Schools.

§          General Motors opens a plant in Doraville, Ford having opened its Hapeville plant the year before.


§          While crossing Peachtree Street with her husband, a speeding car strikes Margaret Mitchell. She dies five days later.

§          Atlanta Board of Aldermen/City Council moves against the KKK by banning wearing of masks in public.

§          African Americans vote in a mayoral primary for the first time since the whites-only primary was ruled unconstitutional.  Many overwhelmingly support Hartsfield.

§          It was Sunday, April 10, 1949. The Brooklyn Dodgers were in town to play the Atlanta Crackers in an exhibition series. Far more specifically and significantly, Jackie Robinson was in town, the first black man ever to play baseball with whites in Atlanta. Two years earlier, on April 15, 1947, Robinson, in the terminology of the time, had "broken the color barrier" in major-league baseball.


§          Atlanta Journal owner James Cox takes over The Atlanta Constitution and merges the two papers' production, ad sales and Sunday editions.

§          Two hundred black children and their parents petition to end segregation in the city schools. The petition will be denied.


§          Marietta Bell Bomber plant, closed after WWII, reopens to meet Korean War needs.

§          Power struggle between Gov. Herman Talmadge & Atlanta Journal & Constitution ends when state Legislature adjourns without restricting paper's right to publish.

§          WSB-TV becomes most powerful station in the U.S. after increasing power and moving from channel 8 to channel 2.



§          The city triples in square miles, from 33 to 118, due to Plan of Improvement.

§          The first parking meter in Atlanta is installed.


§          Carver Community opens, becoming Atlanta's first post-war housing project.


§          City does away with its bicameral system of government (City Council and Board of Aldermen). The City establishes just one legislative body with two Aldermen from each district.


§          U.S. Supreme Court says segregation of city's golf courses is unconstitutional and they are integrated without incident, but Atlanta library defies court orders and denies petitions to desegregate.


§          Lake Lanier is formed with the completion of Buford Dam, a six-year project of the U.S. Corps of Engineers.


§          In January sixty African Americans from 10 states attend an integration strategy meeting in Atlanta that will eventually evolve into the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

§          Mayor Hartsfield trounces segregationist Lester Maddox's petition campaign and is reelected to a sixth term.

§          Female police officers walk the beat for the first time in Atlanta.


§          The Temple of the Hebrew Benevolent Association on Peachtree is bombed, the suspected motive being the rabbi's support for school desegregation. The trial of suspects, members of the National States Rights Party, ends with no verdict.

§          Mayor Hartsfield asks the state for "local option" to allow Atlantans to decide to keep integrated schools open. State law forbids all public funding of integrated schools.

§          Nearly 13% of total wholesale transactions in the South are made in Atlanta.



§          The Atlanta Public Library is integrated with the issuing of a library card to Mrs. Maynard Jackson. (Three days later, it removes from the shelves a children's book about a black and a white bunny rabbit getting married.)

§          Lenox Square mall opens with 47 shops.

§          Atlanta population passes the million mark.


§          Martin Luther King Jr. gives his first sermon at Ebenezer Baptist as co-pastor.

§          Atlanta University students stage a series of sit-ins at government building lunch counters and transportation terminals. The protests lead to several arrests, including that of Martin Luther King at Rich's department store.

§          A state-formed Committee on Schools visits Atlanta and finds overwhelming local support for keeping schools open, integrated or not. They go back to the legislature and recommend local-option.

§          The Atlanta Inquirer, with Julian Bond one of its editors, is founded as an alternative to the Daily World, which the students regard as too conservative.


§          The Chamber of Commerce and black leaders announce an agreement that would end segregation at downtown lunch counters (and protests thereof) within 30 days of desegregation of Atlanta public schools. All charges against the students would be dropped.

§          Nine black kids integrate four white high schools. Georgia Tech desegregates with the admission of three black students.

§          "Atlanta" magazine, designed to promote the city, is launched in association with the Chamber of Commerce's Forward Atlanta Program.

§          Mayor Hartsfield retires and Ivan Allen Jr. becomes mayor, after defeating Lester Maddox in the primary. Hartsfield leaves office as the one of the city’s most popular leaders. He is honored with a baby ape at Zoo Atlanta named after him, “Willie B.”

§          The Merchandise Mart, a project of Edwards & Portman Architects, opens. So does a new $20-million air terminal at the municipal airport.


§          On urging of the Police Chief, Mayor Allen removes patrol and detainment restrictions imposed on black cops that had been in effect since 1947.

§          Twenty-three students are arrested at Grady Hospital for protesting segregation of its facilities.

§          The feds rule Georgia's "county unit" system unconstitutional, thus increasing Atlanta's legislators from one to 12, one of whom (LeRoy Johnson) is black.

§          One hundred eleven Atlanta art patrons die in a plane crash at Orly field in Paris. The shock of the tragedy will lead to the creation of the Woodruff Arts Center.


§          Among Atlanta area schools agreeing to accept African Americans this year: Agnes Scott, Atlanta Speech School, DeKalb Area Trade Schools, Emory, Oglethorpe, Smith-Hughes Vocational School, Trinity Presbyterian. Georgia State College did so in 1962.

§          On August 28, Martin Luther King Jr gives his "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington.

§          In December, Martin Luther King Jr has his first public appearance in Atlanta, his hometown.


§          Work resumes on the Stone Mountain carving.

§          The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Martin Luther King Jr.


§          Grady Hospital begins desegregating.

§          The new Atlanta Stadium opens and will be the home of the Atlanta Crackers for one year. (Although the Braves play one three-game series there with the Detroit Tigers, they officially finish that season back in Milwaukee.)

§          Atlanta has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation with 2.2 percent.


§          In January, Julian Bond is refused a seat in the Georgia House because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.

§          In April, the Braves play their first official game in the new stadium and Stone Mountain Park opens.

§          The Atlanta Historical Society purchases Swan House as its headquarters.

§          The NFL comes to Atlanta on the wings of the Falcons. (No other city ever got both pro baseball and football teams in the same year.)

§          There's a race riot in the Summerhill neighborhood from September 6-11. One Hundred thirty-eight arrested, 35 injured, as African Americans riot after a suspected car thief is shot escaping a white cop. Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee's (SNCC's) Stokely Carmichael is indicted for inciting a riot, and Julian Bond resigns from SNCC.

§          Although Bo Callaway grabs the popular vote for Governor, he lacks a majority and the Legislature picks segregationist Lester Maddox as governor.

§          The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Julian Bond's right to be a Georgia legislator.



§          Atlanta Constitution editor Eugene Patterson wins Pulitzer Prize for editorials.

§          Six Flags Over Georgia opens.

§          In June, Civil Rights activist Stokely Carmichael is arrested, followed by racial unrest in which one black dies and three are wounded. Mayor Allen declares a curfew.


§          On April 4, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shot to death in Memphis. On April 9, he's buried after a march featuring his coffin carried by a wagon and mule followed by thousands of mourners through Atlanta streets. The funeral procession is televised nationwide.

§          Four convicts attempt to escape the Federal Penitentiary, taking 25 hostages. The Atlanta Journal prints the prisoners' list of complaints, and the hostages are freed.

§          The "Memorial Arts Center," later the "Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center," opens.

§          The NBA comes to Atlanta with the purchase of St. Louis Hawks, brought in by Tom Cousins. First games played at Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

§          November Elections: Fulton and DeKalb voters reject MARTA bonds, Herman Talmadge defeats Maynard Jackson for U.S. Senator.

§          The Greater Atlanta Council on Human Relations, a very active white group promoting racial change in Atlanta, goes out of existence with the Civil Rights laws and the elimination of legal segregation.


§          Underground Atlanta opens.

§          In August, there are altercations as police arrest hippies for drugs near Piedmont Park.

§          Sam Massell becomes first Jewish Mayor of Atlanta. Maynard Jackson, a black, becomes vice mayor, with the number of black aldermen increased from one to five, and Benjamin Mays, a black educator, is elected to Board of Education.


§          Mayor Sam Massell takes office, appoints African Americans as chairmen of Finance and Police Committees.

§          The Stone Mountain carving, a Confederate Memorial, is finally finished and dedicated, after 50 years.

§          Jimmy Carter, a former state senator, is elected governor.




§          Former Mayor William B. Hartsfield dies, and within a month, City leaders name the airport after him. (In July, Hartsfield Airport becomes Hartsfield International Airport after Eastern Airlines inaugurates daily non-stop flights to Mexico City.)

§          Mayor Massell says he'll propose legislation to expand the city by 50,000 residents, citing loss of inner-city businesses. Governor Maddox kills it in the Senate.

§          Last year, Massell had also called for all city departments to "change with a goal of 50 percent minority employment" within 40 months. In accordance, the Water Department desegregates itself.

§          Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb residents give thumbs up to four percent sales tax for MARTA bonds. Gwinnett and Clayton voters defeat it for their counties.


§          MARTA buys the Atlanta Transit Company for $12.8-million.

§          Ted Turner begins broadcasting Braves games.

§          On behalf of 26 black parents, the ACLU sues nine metro-area school boards (cities of Atlanta, Decatur, Marietta, and Buford, and the counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton) to develop a desegregation plan.

§          The Omni Stadium opens at a cost of $17-million.

§          Andrew Young becomes the South’s' first black U.S. Congressman since reconstruction.

§          Mayor Massell names Lt. John Inman Chief of Police on the retirement of Herbert Jenkins, chief since 1947.


§          There's a settlement in the Atlanta desegregation lawsuit: busing will assure at least 30 percent African Americans in all schools, the black-white faculty ratio will change, and a black superintendent will oversee an integrated board. Later, Dr. Alonzo Crim is named superintendent, and a federal court orders busing of 2,761 white students.

§          Maynard Jackson, first black Atlanta mayor, defeats first Jewish mayor Sam Massell in a contest filled with charges of racism on both sides.  Wyche Fowler defeats Civil Rights leader Dr. Hosea Williams for City Council President, a position created under a newly adopted city charter. 

§          Under the new city charter, the Board of Aldermen is forever abolished and the body is formerly renamed City Council. The position of vice mayor becomes Council President.


§          As Maynard Jackson is sworn in, his new city council is 50 percent black.

§          Mobile, Ala., -native “Hammering” Hank Aaron, of the Atlanta Braves, hits 714 home runs, breaking Babe Ruth's record. The nation watches on TV and cheers him on.

§          Mayor Jackson tries to fire Police Chief Inman, who is accused of corruption, mismanagement and racism. Inman, claiming that the new city charter is unconstitutional, refuses to leave and stays until his retirement. Meanwhile, Reginald Eaves (Inman's replacement) is named Public Safety Commissioner, with authority above that of Police Chief.

§          The Fox Theatre, almost sold to Southern Bell as site of the phone company's new headquarters, is saved from destruction with pressure from Fox supporters and the cooperation of Southern Bell.

§          Martin Luther King Junior's mother is murdered while attending church services at Ebenezer Baptist Church. (Her husband, MLK's father, is pastor. He retires the following year.)

§          George Busbee elected governor.


§          The house where Martin Luther King was born is placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Nearby, ground breaks for the MLK Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.

§          In late March, a Tornado hits Atlanta, killing three.

§          Richard Rich dies. He was head of Rich's Department Store and grandson of the founder.

§          The Georgia Legislature receives proposals to allow the city to annex nearby white suburbs.

§          The U.S. Justice Department sues Atlanta's Fire Department for discrimination against black fire fighters.


§          Ted Turner says he'll buy the Braves for $12-million.

§          The number of police officers grows by 50 percent, from just under 1,000 in 1970 to over 1,500 in 1975.

§          The Georgia World Congress Center opens at a cost of $35-million. It contains the world's largest exhibition hall (352,000 square feet).

§          Across the street in Omni Center (now CNN Center), "The World of Sid & Marty Krofft," an indoor amusement park, opens for business but closes a few months later. (The space is now occupied by CNN's world headquarters.)

§          Governor Jimmy Carter is elected president. Georgians Griffin Bell and Andrew Young are nominated to be Attorney General and U.N. Ambassador respectively.


§          Ted Turner buys the Hawks, his second pro team. In September, he wins the America's Cup yacht race.




§          Loew's Grand Theatre, where Gone With The Wind premiered in 1939, burns down in January. Five months later, the land is sold to a real-estate company.


§          MARTA bus fares, until now the lowest in the nation, go up from 15 to 25 cents.

§          A Federal Court strikes down Atlanta's right to license adult entertainment establishments, finding the ordinance too vague.


§          On June 1, Ted Turner's 24-hour Cable News Network (CNN) begins cable casting for the first time, with about 250 employees working out of the old Progressive Club on Techwood Drive near Georgia Tech.

§          MARTA fares double, over the protests of Atlanta officials, from 25 to 50 cents.

§          Hartsfield International Airport reopens in a huge, new facility.

§          The Falcons win the Western Division of the NFC. Atlanta's pro hockey team, the Flames, is sold and moves to Calgary.


§          Metro Atlanta's population tops 2 million, making it the nation's 16th most populous area. Figures also show Atlanta is now 66 percent black.

§          The Chiefs win the North American Soccer League's eastern division indoor championship for the second straight season.

§          The nation is stunned by the story of Atlanta's "murdered and missing children." President Reagan allocates funds to the investigation. In June, 23-year-old cameraman Wayne Williams is arrested and indicted for some of the killings.

§          MARTA fares up again, this time from 50 to 60 cents.

§          Hartsfield briefly bumps Chicago's O'Hare and becomes the world's busiest airport in terms of passengers served.

§          Andrew Young elected Mayor; Marvin Arrington elected City Council President.  Among the members of the City Council was Civil Rights leaders John Lewis.


§          The "Great Park" Authority, overseeing the proposed conversion of 219 acres of Atlanta land into a park, endorses that it include the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and a Presidential Parkway leading to it. Opponents of the road march on the Capitol.

§          The Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution say they'll combine newsgathering in Metro Atlanta.

§          Wayne Williams is convicted and sentenced to two life terms for the murders of two of the "missing and murdered children." Twenty-six other such cases are closed.

§          The Braves win the Western Division title, the team's first since 1969.


§          Atlanta Public Library system is handed over to Fulton County to run it.

§          The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra goes on strike for seven weeks, finally settling on musician's 1984-85 salary levels of $585 per week.

§          President Reagan signs a law making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday.


§          The Grant Park Zoo is called one of the nation's worst by the American Humane Society. Later in the year, Mayor Young calls for an investigation of the zoo after the deaths of a tiger, a lioness, and Twinkles, a young elephant that had illegally showed up in a traveling circus. 

§          Governor Joe Frank Harris signs into law the bill making MLK's birthday a state holiday.

§          Georgia authorizes the widening of Georgia 400 from I-285 to North Fulton County. The previous year, the City Council deadlocked on having the parkway run south of I-285.

§          Tensions increase at Atlanta's Federal Penitentiary, culminating in November with an eight-hour siege by Cuban prisoners protesting conditions and treatment. Early the next year, some are released while others are deported.


§          Coca-Cola philanthropist Robert W. Woodruff dies at the age of 95. Woodruff is known throughout Atlanta and the South for his quiet contributions to worthy causes.

§          Atlanta and Fulton agree to pay to fix up the zoo, later renaming it the Atlanta-Fulton County Zoo.

§          The City Council halts construction of the Presidential Parkway, but later, the Georgia Supreme Court -- and the next year, a federal court -- say the state can continue.


§          Underground Atlanta gets the City Council's okay for a $135-million renovation.

§          The City Council tries to put a moratorium on demolishing historic structures, but the measure is vetoed by the administration.

§          The Carter Presidential Center is dedicated. 

§          Elected to the Atlanta City Council in 1981, John Lewis was an advocate for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. He resigned from the Council in 1986 to run for U.S. Congress.



§          It’s March 1987: Businessman Billy Payne urges city officials to submit a bid for the Olympics games. Some leaders take him seriously.

§          William Wyche Fowler is elected to the U.S. Senate in 1987. Fowler is a former member of the Atlanta Board of Aldermen (1970-73); president of the Atlanta City Council (1974-77); a member of the U.S. House of Representative (1977-1986) 


§          Atlanta hosts the Democratic National Convention, which nominates Michael Dukasis as its presidential candidate. Dukasis is  defeated by George H. Bush in the presidential election.


§          Former Mayor Maynard Jackson re-elected Mayor. Jackson served as the city’s first African-American Mayor in the 1970s, serving two terms. Prior to that he was the city’s first African American vice mayor. (A term used prior to the change in the City Charter)

§          A new City Hall wing opens with a magnificent glass ceiling overlooking the atrium providing for a splendid view of the old City Hall tower


§          Atlanta wins Olympics: The city is awarded the 1996 Summer Games and begins organizing them.

§          South African President Nelson Mandela visits Atlanta.


§          The City unveils an ambitious plan to redeveloping the neighborhoods near Olympic venues. The City promises better housing and living conditions for residents and creation of a commercial development district in Atlanta’s Westside and Downtown.

§          Organizers of S.T.O.P. (Sewage Treatment Out of the Park) collect about 15,000 signatures to help persuade Atlanta City Council members to reconsider their decision to allow a sewage treatment plant on three acres of land in Piedmont Park to drain and treat runoff water.


§          The $200 Georgia Dome opens to the public.


§          Former City Councilmember William “Bill” Campbell elected Mayor.

  §          Olympic officials receive approval from the Atlanta City Council to condemn the remaining contested land for parking lots for the new Olympic stadium (now Turner Field).


§          The Atlanta Braves (yes the Atlanta Braves) win the 1995 World Series defeating the Cleveland Indians 4-2.


§          Atlanta welcomes the World for the Centennial Olympic Games with world-class facilities and a new multi-million stadium paid for by private investments.

§          Centennial Olympic Park is raddled by an explosion during a concert. One person killed, another died of cardiac arrest.



§          The Atlanta City Council bans city officials from accepting free sports and entertainment tickets as political perks.

§          William “Bill” Campbell re-elected Mayor.



§          The Atlanta City Council voted unanimously to rezone the huge Atlantic Steel property beside the Downtown Connector, clearing the way for the contaminated industrial site to be cleaned up and possibly developed with office towers, stores, entertainment facilities, hotels and housing. The process of creating an entire new western sector of the city center (A city within a city) is projected to stretch over 15 to 20 years The zoning allows for construction of an estimated 18 million square feet --- considerably more than the 10 million square feet in Jacoby Development Inc.'s plan, which includes 4 million in offices, 1.5 million in retail, 2,400 residences and 1,000 hotel rooms



§          The Atlanta City Council paves the way for a $5.4 billion expansion of Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport (the World’s Busiest Airport) by approving more than $250 million worth of agreements.

§          The $200 Philips Arena opens to the public.



§          U.S. Census shows the City of Atlanta’s population at 416,000: the first increase since the 1970s. The Census Bureau recorded the metro population as being in excess of 4 million.

§          The Atlanta City Council adopts regulations reigning in the vehicle booting industry by capping maximum charge at $50. The regulations are further tightened the next month after the council learns that some companies jacked up their fees in anticipation of the new rules. Booters promise a legal challenge.

§          Atlantans young and old mourn the death of “Willie B”, a massive silverback gorilla and gentle giant who captivated the attention of Zoo Atlanta patrons for three decades. Named after former Mayor and city booster William B. Hartsfield, Willie B. the ape, over the years gained an affection for TV. His attachment to the TV set got him on the NBC show "Real People" in 1980, triggering international media attention that carried through his life.

§          Civil rights leader, community activist and former member of the Atlanta City Council, Hosea Williams dies at age 74. Thousands, from the homeless people he helped to the president of the United States, pay their respects. Despite our loss, Williams’ annual Feed the Hungry and Homeless Campaign continues.


§          For the first time in 53 years, Rich's Great Tree is lighted somewhere other than downtown Atlanta on Thanksgiving night. The lights are turned on the 72-foot Georgia white pine atop the Rich's store at Lenox Square mall in Buckhead.



§  It’s January 31, 2001 and “HOTLanta” is still in the deep freeze after a winter ice storm when Super Bowl XXXIV comes to the Georgia Dome. Luckily the temperature inside the Dome was perfect for The Rams. They beat the Tennessee Titans, 23-16.

§  Mayor Shirley Franklin elected as the first female chief executive officer in the city’s history.  She is also  the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major southern city. Cathy Woolard elected the first female City Council President in the city’s history.



§  A City task force releases a $400 million proposal to radically overhaul Atlanta’s parks system and to create a 500-acre park. The plan calls for buying 3,122 acres for parks and green space throughout the city by 2012. The plan also would use rivers, streams, lakes and creeks to create greenway networks linking neighborhoods to libraries, community centers, schools and parks. A special commission, called the Atlanta Parks District, would oversee all parks in the plan, essentially replacing the current city-run parks department. 


§  The Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee holds first ever work session to get industry and citizen input on privatizing operations at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, the World’s Busiest Air Transportation Facility. Hartsfield Atlanta International is owed by the City of Atlanta.


§  Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington, who was former President of the Atlanta City Council, validated the argument it's "silly" and "discriminatory" to permit some taverns to sell booze on Sunday and to prohibit others when he declared a state blue law unconstitutional. The City of Atlanta had been enforcing the State law that prohibited some taverns from selling alcohol on Sundays if they did not fall under the city’s definition of a restaurant or 24-hour private club.


§  Hurricane Ivan hits parts of Atlanta, causing Mayor Shirley Franklin to declare a state of emergency and request assistance from the state and federal governments.

§  The City of Atlanta passes the “MOST” (Municipal Option Sales Tax) to improve Atlanta’s quality of life.  As a result, water and sewer rates are reduced and there is funding for the rebuilding and upgrade of Atlanta’s sewer system.

§  Mike Woodson is named the 10th head coach of the Atlanta Hawks.  Josh Childress and a local, Josh Smith, are also drafted to play for the Hawks.  


§  April 2005, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin announces the creation of the BeltLine Partnership. The BeltLine Partnership is created in hopes of help bringing together private sector and citizen support on behalf of the Beltline.  In addition, its function is to support the work being led by the Atlanta Development Authority (ADA) to move the 22-mile live-work-play-transit corridor from vision to reality.

§  October 2005 marks the opening of Atlantic Station, a former steel plant site redeveloped into a mixed-use urban district.

§  The Georgia Aquarium opens in November after a $250 million dollar donation by Bernie Marcus and a $40 million dollar donation by other (largely Atlanta) corporations. Coca Cola donated 9 acres for the Aquarium to be built on.  The Georgia Aquarium is the only institution outside of Asia to house whale sharks.  In addition, the Atlanta aquarium is home to the first manta ray ever on display in the country. Within 98 days of opening, it greeted one million guests. 


§  Coretta Scott King, wife of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and founder of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change passes away.  She is eulogized by Mayor Shirley Franklin, various civil rights and national icons.

§  A $32 million dollar deal is announced to prevent the Martin Luther King Jr. papers from being auctioned. A private coalition of business and civic leaders bought the collection from the King family for public display at the new Center for Civil and Human Rights proposed for downtown Atlanta.

§  High museum begins with three-year partnership with Musée du Louvre.


§        In October 2007, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announces that Atlanta is to receive an expansion franchise, The new team is the Atlanta Dream.

§        The new Coca Cola Museum expands and relocates next to Centennial Olympic Park and the Atlanta Aquarium.



§   March 2008, an EF2 tornado hits downtown Atlanta with winds up to 135 mph (217 km/h). The tornado causes damage to  many Atlanta landmarks: Philips Arena, the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, the Georgia Dome, Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center, and the Georgia World Congress Center. It also causes major damage to the nearby neighborhoods of Vine City to the West, Cabbagetown, and Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills to the east.


§   Atlanta's Virginia-Highland neighborhood becomes the first carbon-neutral zone in the United States. Verus Carbon Neutral develops a partnership that links 17 merchants of the historic Corner Virginia-Highland shopping and dining neighborhood retail district, through the Chicago Climate Exchange, to directly fund the Valley Wood Carbon Sequestration Project (thousands of acres of forest in rural Georgia).


Many of the milestone events in the Timeline were identified by consulting the records and sources available at the City of Atlanta Archives. Written materials and on-line resources on City history have also been provided by staff of City Council offices.

We welcome information concerning any omissions and the inevitable errors which may have found their way into the Timeline. Suggestions for changes to the Timeline may be addressed to Dexter Chambers.