Atlanta, A-Town, The ATL … no matter what you want to refer to it as, there is no denying that this southern town has a wealthy and diverse history. Three huge factors affecting Atlanta’s history are transit, race relations, and the Atlanta spirit.
Formerly named Terminus, and later Marthasville, the area we now regard as Atlanta underwent extreme growth due to the convergence of three railroad lines that linked the frontier town to other far away areas in the southeast. In more current times, the Hartsfield-Jackson airport has become one of the busiest in the world. Starting off with only international flights to Mexico City, the Atlanta airport now has a multitude of international routes, mainly in part to the deregulation of the airline industry. The growth of air transportation, along with the production of Atlanta’s major highways, Interstate 285 and Georgia 400, played a sizable role in the convention and tourism businesses.
Race relations in Atlanta track back to the Civil War. As the 4th biggest city in Georgia by 1860, the population of just under ten thousand was made up of both captive and free African- Americans. In 1864, as a home front for war material production, Atlanta was occupied by General William G. Sherman and his troops. This culminated in many businesses and homes in Atlanta being burned to the ground. As people started to restore Atlanta, the African American population grew to 40 percent as a result of to the education opportunities that were offered. A very separated city was formed until the 1960’s when racial roadblocks started to be torn down. By 1970, African-Americans were a majority in Atlanta.
The third marker of historic progression in Atlanta is the “Atlanta Spirit”. In other words, the belief that any form of business that was good and lucrative was also great for Atlanta as well as its locals. This attitude not only encouraged economic growth but also a booming art, music, and cultural scene. It turned Atlanta into a prominent urban hub.
While Atlanta’s history and growth are both deep and rich, the most influential factors have been the experience from a racially segregated town to one where African-American culture is celebrated and revered, the implementation of travel systems such as airlines, highways, bus systems, and trains that brought commerce and development to a once unheard of town, and the niche for thriving business that still shines today. As diverse and culturally enticing as ever, Atlanta is continuously making strides in history that are going to be marveled at for years in the future.