Founded in 1837 as the end of the Western & Atlantic railroad line, Atlanta was first named Marthasville in honor of early railroad proponent Governor Lumpkin’s daughter. It changed again in 1847 to Atlanta, the feminine of Atlantic — as in the railroad. Other railroad companies constructed branch lines connecting Atlanta to Georgia’s coast and other points north and south. Atlanta quickly became the transportation hub of the southeast. By 1906, Atlanta was Georgia’s largest city and the undisputed center of the South.
In 1941, Delta Airlines moved its headquarters form Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta. As Delta grew into a global airline, through innovation and acquisitions, it connected Atlanta not just to the region or the country, but also to the world. Today the fast-growing city remains a transportation hub, not just for the country but also for the world. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the nation’s busiest in daily passenger flights.
In 1996, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics placing it firmly on the world stage and securing its status as an international city. As a result, people from all over the United States and from around the globe have chosen Atlanta, drawn by opportunity, prosperity and quality of life.
Since the Olympics, Atlanta has undertaken three major projects contributing to the quality of life here. In 2005, the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world, opened its doors in downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park. The Aquarium exceeded all expectations of becoming a major tourist attraction when it welcomed its millionth visitor just 98 days after it opened. Atlantic Station, on the former Atlantic Steel site, has transformed into one of the city’s most magnificent live-work-play communities. Featuring condos, lofts and townhomes, a park and bike/pedestrian paths, office space, and a selection of shops and restaurants, Atlantic Station is a desirable destination for those who appreciate the finer aspect of in-town living.
The Beltline project, the outgrowth of a Georgia Tech graduate student’s thesis, will create affordable live-work-play communities, increase green space, improve transit, and connect communities along a 22-mile loop of downtown and midtown Atlanta. To help build public support for the project, in 2005, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin announced the creation of the Beltline Partnership, a collaboration of government, civic, community, neighborhood, and business leaders working closely together to bring the project to fruition. The project began in July 2006 and is estimated to take 25 years to complete. The final results expect 5,600 affordable housing units and 30,000 new full-time jobs.
As the South’s transportation, financial and progressively minded center, Atlanta has truly become a global city, both in its vision of economic prosperity and its embrace of those who have chosen to call the city home.