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1.a siege in which Federal troops under Sherman cut off the railroads supplying the city and then burned it; 1864
2.state capital and largest city of Georgia; chief commercial center of the southeastern United States; was plundered and burned by Sherman's army during the American Civil War
AtlantaAt*lan"ta (�), n. [NL., fr. Gr. �.] (Zoöl.) A genus of small glassy heteropod mollusks found swimming at the surface in mid ocean. See Heteropod.
siege; besieging; beleaguering; military blockade[ClasseHyper.]
ville de Géorgie (fr)[ClasseParExt...]
Atlanta, capital of Georgia[Domaine]
ville des États-Unis (fr)[ClasseParExt...]
ville de Géorgie (fr)[ClasseParExt...]
|— City —|
|City of Atlanta|
|Buckhead, Fox Theatre, Georgia State Capitol, Centennial Olympic Park, Millennium Gate, Canopy Walk, Georgia Aquarium, The Phoenix statue, and Midtown skyline from Piedmont Park|
|Nickname(s): Hotlanta, The ATL, ATL, The A, Gate City (historic), City in a Forest|
|Motto: Resurgens (Latin for rising again)|
|Fulton County, location of Fulton County in the state of Georgia|
|Country||United States of America|
|County||Fulton and DeKalb|
|City of Atlanta||1847|
|• Mayor||Kasim Reed|
|• City||132.4 sq mi (343.0 km2)|
|• Land||131.8 sq mi (341.2 km2)|
|• Water||0.6 sq mi (1.8 km2)|
|• Urban||1,963 sq mi (5,080 km2)|
|• Metro||8,376 sq mi (21,690 km2)|
|Elevation||738 to 1,050 ft (225 to 320 m)|
|• Density||3,190/sq mi (1,232/km2)|
|• Urban density||2,420/sq mi (935/km2)|
|• Metro||5,268,860 (9th)|
|• Metro density||630/sq mi (243/km2)|
|Race and ethnicity—City (2010)|
|• White (non-Hispanic)||36.3%|
|• Hispanic (any race)||5.2%|
|Language spoken at home—City (2008)|
|• Other Indo-European languages||3.9%|
|• Asian languages||2.8%|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|ZIP code(s)||30060, 30301–30322, 30324–30334, 30336–30350, 30353|
|Area code(s)||404, 470, 678, 770|
|GNIS feature ID||0351615|
Atlanta ( //, stressed //, locally //) is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia with a 2010 population of 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest in the U.S. It is a major component of a growing southeastern megalopolis known as the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion. Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County, and a small portion of the city extends eastward into DeKalb County.
Atlanta began as a settlement located at the terminus of a railroad line, and it was incorporated in 1845. Today, the city is a major business city and the primary transportation hub of the Southeastern United States (via highway, railroad, and air), with Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport being the world's busiest airport since 1998. The World Cities Study Group at Loughborough University rated Atlanta as an "alpha(-) world city". With a gross domestic product of US$270 billion, Atlanta's economy ranks 15th among world cities and sixth in the nation. The city is a center for services, finance, information technology, government, and higher education. Metro Atlanta contains the country's third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, and is the world headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company, Turner Broadcasting, The Home Depot, AT&T Mobility, UPS, and Delta Air Lines. As of 2010, Atlanta is the seventh most visited city in the United States, with over 35 million visitors per year.
The city has long been known as a center of black wealth, political power and culture; a cradle of the Civil Rights Movement and home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, the city's white population is growing rapidly, while Metro Atlanta has quickly become ethnically diverse with large Hispanic and Asian populations. The arts and entertainment are well represented in Atlanta, and the city is an important base for hip hop, gospel, and neo soul music; in addition, it has become a major center of film and TV production. Atlanta stands out among major U.S. cities for its dense tree coverage. In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, an event that spurred a wave of gentrification that has intensified into the 21st century, revitalizing the city's center and in-town neighborhoods.
In 1836 the Georgia General Assembly voted to build a railroad to provide a trade route to the Midwestern United States, and its terminus was chosen in 1837. In 1839 homes and a store were built there and by 1842, the settlement—now named Atlanta—had six buildings and 30 residents. By 1854 rail lines had arrived from four different directions, making the young town the rail hub for the entire Southern United States.
During the American Civil War, Atlanta was an important railroad and military supply hub. In 1864, the city became the target of a major Union invasion during the Atlanta campaign. In 1864 Atlanta was under union siege for four months. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered all public buildings and Confederate assets destroyed. On September 2, the city surrendered, and on September 7 Sherman ordered evacuation four days before ordering Atlanta to be burned to the ground.
The city recovered quickly from the Civil War and grew quickly into a transportation, trade and industrial powerhouse of the Southeast. Henry W. Grady, the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, promoted the city to investors as a city of the "New South", by which he meant a diversification of the economy away from agriculture, and a shift from the "Old South" attitudes of slavery and rebellion. As part of the effort to modernize the South, Grady and many others also supported the creation of the Georgia School of Technology (now the Georgia Institute of Technology), which was founded on the city's northern outskirts in 1885. The city of Atlanta's new symbol, the Phoenix, symbolized this spirit of rebirth. By 1890, the city had a population over 65,000; by 1910, the city had more than 150,000 residents. Skyscrapers began emerging with the 1892 Equitable Building and the 1897 Flatiron Building. The city of Atlanta quickly became a center of Southern business. By 1906, the 17-story Candler Building housed Asa Candler's Coca-Cola company. Atlanta's growth was almost unimpeded from 1870 to 1930, with a small interruption during WWI.
Despite discrimination and segregation during the early 1900s, a prosperous black middle class and upper class emerged in Atlanta. Desegregation came in stages: buses and trolleys in 1959, the first restaurants in 1961, theaters in 1962. and public schools from 1961–73.
In the 1960s, Atlanta was a major center of the US Civil Rights Movement, with Martin Luther King and students from Atlanta's historically black colleges and universities playing major roles in the movement's leadership. On October 19, 1960, a sit-in at the lunch counters of several Atlanta department stores led to the arrest of Dr. King and several students, drawing attention from the media and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. The 1970s saw the election of the first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, most of the MARTA system's construction, and major suburban growth. The 80s saw the launch of CNN and Atlanta hosting the 1988 Democratic National Convention.
In the 1990s, Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport became the busiest in the world. The 21st century saw a tornado hit Downtown in 2008, floods in the region, the adoption of a plan to add 40% more green space, the rise of Delta to the rank of world's largest airline, and rapid gentrification of many central neighborhoods.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city encompasses 132.4 square miles (342.9 km2), of which 131.7 square miles (341.1 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) is water. At about 1,050 feet (320 m) above mean sea level, Atlanta sits atop a ridge south of the Chattahoochee River.
The Eastern Continental Divide line enters Atlanta from the south, proceeding to the downtown area. From downtown, the divide line runs eastward along DeKalb Avenue and the CSX rail lines through Decatur. Rainwater that falls on the south and east side runs eventually into the Atlantic Ocean, while rainwater on the north and west side of the divide runs into the Gulf of Mexico via the Chattahoochee River. That river is part of the ACF River Basin, and from which Atlanta and many of its neighbors draw most of their water. Being at the far northwestern edge of the city, much of the river's natural habitat is still preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Downstream however, excessive water use during droughts and pollution during floods has been a source of contention and legal battles with neighboring states Alabama and Florida.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Atlanta has a humid subtropical climate, (Cfa) according to the Köppen classification, with hot, humid summers and cool winters that are occasionally cold by the standards of the southern United States. January averages 42.7 °F (5.9 °C), with temperatures in the suburbs slightly cooler. Warm, maritime air can bring springlike highs while strong Arctic air masses can push lows into the teens (−11 to −7 °C). High temperatures in July average 89 °F (31.7 °C) but occasionally exceed to near 100 °F (38 °C). Atlanta's high mean elevation distinguishes it from most other southern and eastern cities, and contributes to a more temperate climate than is found in areas farther south. Humid in the summer, Atlanta often experiences summer thunderstorms.
Typical of the southeastern U.S., Atlanta receives abundant rainfall, which is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, though spring and early fall are markedly drier. Average annual rainfall is 50.2 inches (1,280 mm). Temperatures at or above 90 °F (32 °C) occur more than 40 days per year; overnight freezing can be expected over 45 days, but high temperatures that do not climb above the freezing mark are rare. Annual snowfall averages 2.5 inches (6.4 cm). True blizzards are rare but possible; the heaviest single storm brought around 16 inches (40.6 cm) on March 12–14, 1993 during the Storm of the Century. Ice storms usually cause more trouble than does snowfall; the most severe such storms may have occurred on January 7, 1973 and January 9, 2011.
|Climate data for Atlanta (1981-2010 normals)|
|Record high °F (°C)||79
|Average high °F (°C)||52.7
|Average low °F (°C)||34.2
|Record low °F (°C)||−8
|Precipitation inches (mm)||4.20
|Snowfall inches (cm)||1.3
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.9||9.8||9.7||8.6||9.3||9.9||11.7||9.7||7.5||6.9||8.8||10.5||113.3|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||.7||.6||.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.4||1.9|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||164.3||172.3||220.1||261.0||288.3||285.0||272.8||257.3||228.0||283.7||186.0||164.3||2,783.1|
|Source: NOAA  HKO (sun only, 1961−1990)  The Weather Channel (record temperatures) |
Architecture in Atlanta is dominated by modernism and postmodernism in its commercial and institutional buildings, with a significant influence by hometown architect John Portman. A few notable buildings remain from earlier eras going back to the 1880s, but not a single building remains from the antebellum city, which Union troops burned to the ground in 1864.[note 1] Residential architecture in Atlanta's Intown neighborhoods, largely built between the 1880s and 1920s, is characterized by styles ranging from Victorian cottages to Craftsman bungalows to Revival styles; Atlanta's outer neighborhoods were built in post-World War II suburban styles. Historically, industry located next to the rail lines, and repurposed industrial structures can be found near those rail lines which both approach Downtown Atlanta from all directions, as well as surround it in a belt pattern, passing through the city's inner neighborhoods.
Most of Atlanta was burned during the Civil War, depleting it its antebellum architecture. Yet Atlanta, architecturally, had never been particularly "southern." Because Atlanta originated as a railroad town, rather than a patrician southern seaport like Savannah or Charleston, many of the city's landmarks could have easily been erected in the Northeast or Midwest. After the war, Atlanta viewed itself as the leading city of a progressive "New South," and opted for expressive modern structures.
As a result of Atlanta's embrace of modernism, its cityscape is dominated by relatively recent architectural styles, containing works by most major U.S. firms and some of the more prominent architects of the 20th century, including Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Marcel Breuer, Renzo Piano, Pickard Chilton, and locally based, internationally known Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam Architects. The city's skyline, which began its marked rise in the 1960s, is punctuated with highrise and midrise buildings of both modern and postmodern vintage. At 1,023 feet (312 m), Atlanta's tallest skyscraper—the Bank of America Plaza—is the 54th-tallest building in the world and the 9th tallest building in the United States.
The city's embrace of modernism and postmodernism resulted in an ambivalent approach toward historic preservation. Such an approach ultimately led to the destruction of notable architectural landmarks, including the Equitable Building (Atlanta's first skyscraper), Terminal Station, and the Carnegie Library. One of Atlanta's cultural icons, the Fox Theatre, would have met the same fate had it not been for a grassroots effort to save it in the mid-1970s.
Atlanta contains more than 40 historic districts, nearly all NRHP-listed. The most notable residential historic districts include Druid Hills, with its parks and parkways designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Inman Park with its Victorian mansions (also Olmsted), Virginia-Highland with its Craftsman bungalows, and Cabbagetown with its shotgun houses.
Notable industrial architecture includes Ponce City Market (formerly a Sears regional warehouse), the former Van Winkle Cotton Gin and Machine Works, Northyards (a converted roundhouse and rail yards), and other buildings in the Means Street Historic District, the proposed King Plow/Railroad Historic District, and on the Marietta Street Artery.
The three major high-rise districts within the city limits form a north-south axis along Peachtree: Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. Surrounding these high-density districts are leafy single-family residential neighborhoods. Downtown contains many notable skyscrapers, the most office space in the metro area and many government offices. Further north is Midtown Atlanta, a major employment center, including many law offices. Between 1990 and 2010, a skyline of office and residential towers took shape. Upscale retail stores are opening, though scaled down from previous (2006) plans. Buckhead is eight miles (13 km) north of Downtown. The wealthy suburban area developed into a major commercial and financial center after Lenox Square mall opened in 1959. Skyscapers and hotels surround the mall, and around this commercial core are neighborhoods of single-family homes ranging from upper middle-class to very wealthy.
Atlanta's east side is marked by historic streetcar suburbs built from the 1890s–1930s as havens for the upper middle class. Each of these neighborhoods are unique, containing separate commercial villages surrounded by leafy, architecturally distinct residential streets. East side neighborhoods include Victorian Inman Park and Grant Park, craftsman Virginia-Highland and Kirkwood, and Bohemian Candler Park and East Atlanta. In West Midtown, former warehouses and factories have been transformed into condos, apartments, retail space, art galleries, and sophisticated restaurants. It is largely in these areas where the gentrification of Atlanta has taken place, transformed the city since the 1996 Olympics. As of 2010, Buckhead and northeastern Atlanta were on average 80% white. Downtown, Midtown, West Midtown, and some close-in east side neighborhoods were the fastest growing areas of the city from 2000 to 2010.
Predominantly black neighborhoods cover 60% of the city's area: northwestern, southwestern, and southeastern Atlanta were 92% African American as of 2010. In Southwestern Atlanta, the areas closest to Downtown are streetcar suburbs such as the historic West End; these transition into postwar suburban neighborhoods, including Collier Heights and Cascade Heights, home to the city's established African-American elite. Further out are newer neighborhoods that are also havens for middle-class and upper-class black homeowners. From 2000 to 2010 there was rapid population loss in northwestern Atlanta (−24.1%) and southeastern Atlanta (−20.5%), while small areas at the far west perimeter like Ben Hill grew quickly (+45.8%).
The population of the Atlanta region spreads across a metropolitan area of 8,376 square miles (21,694 km2)—a land area larger than that of Massachusetts. Because Georgia contains the second highest number of counties in the country, area residents live under a heavily decentralized collection of governments. As of the 2000 census, fewer than one in twelve residents of the metropolitan area lived inside Atlanta city proper.
Region: Combined Statistical Area (CSA)
The 2010 Census indicates a population of 420,003—lower than 2009 estimate of 540,921. The difference between the 2010 official count and the 2009 estimates caused some to question the reliability of the 2010 count. However, Atlanta's daytime population is much larger. According to a 2000 daytime population estimate by the Census Bureau, over 250,000 more people commuted to Atlanta on any given workday, boosting the city's estimated daytime population to 676,431, an increase of 62.4% over the resident population, making it the largest gain in daytime population in the country among cities with fewer than 500,000 residents.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,464 and the median income for a family was $59,711. About 21.8% of the population and 17.2% of families lived below the poverty line.
In 2010, the city of Atlanta was 54.0% black, 38.4% white, down from 61.7% in 1960, and 3.1% Asian, with 5.2% Hispanic ancestry. 8.0% were foreign born, while the metro as a whole was 13.6% foreign-born.
Atlanta is the nation's 4th largest black-majority city and has long been known as a "black mecca" for its role as a center of black wealth, political power, education, and culture including film and music. However, the area's African Americans have rapidly suburbanized since 1990. The city's black population shrinking by 31,678 people from 2000 to 2010, a drop from 61.4% to 54.0% of the population. While blacks exited the city and neighboring DeKalb County, the black population increased sharply in other areas of Metro Atlanta by 93.1%.
The Atlanta metropolitan area is home to more than 44,000 Korean Americans, 38,000 Chinese Americans, and 37,000 Vietnamese Americans. Metro Atlanta has a sizable community of people of Indian origin, at over 79,000 residents. The Asian community is mostly prevalent in Gwinnett County, where people of Asian ancestry made up 10.6% of the county's residents as of 2010. Gwinnett County also has a high proportion of Hispanic people, mainly people of Mexican descent.
The proportion of whites in the city grew from 31.3% to 36.3% between 2000–2010.[note 2] Between 2000–2006 the growth was the fastest amongst major cities.[note 3] The city also became more diverse with portion of Non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks dropping from 97.1% to 90.3% between 1990–2010 while the Metro area diversified much more quickly. The Hispanic and Asian populations doubled to become 10% and 5% of the population respectively between 2000 an 2010.
Atlanta has one of the highest LGBT populations per capita, ranking 3rd of all major cities, behind San Francisco and Seattle, with 12.8% of the city's total population recognizing themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
According to the 2000 United States Census (revised in 2004), Atlanta has the twelfth highest proportion of single-person households nationwide among cities of 100,000 or more residents, which was at 39%.
Atlanta is one of ten U.S. cities classified as an "alpha-world city" by a 2010 study at Loughborough University, and ranks fourth in the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered within city boundaries, behind New York City, Houston, and Dallas. Several major national and international companies are headquartered in metro Atlanta, including four Fortune 100 companies: The Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, United Parcel Service, Delta Air Lines, AT&T Mobility, and Newell Rubbermaid. Over 75% of the Fortune 1000 companies have a presence in the Atlanta area, and the region hosts offices of about 1,250 multinational corporations. As of 2006 Atlanta Metropolitan Area ranks as the 10th largest cybercity (high-tech center) in the US, with 126,700 high-tech jobs.
Delta Air Lines is the city's largest employer and the metro area's third largest. Delta operates the world's largest airline hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and, together with the hub of competing carrier AirTran Airways, has helped make Hartsfield-Jackson the world's busiest airport, both in terms of passenger traffic and aircraft operations. The airport, since its construction in the 1950s, has served as a key engine of Atlanta's economic growth.
Atlanta has a sizable financial sector. SunTrust Banks, the seventh largest bank by asset holdings in the United States, has its home office on Peachtree Street in downtown. The Federal Reserve System has a district headquarters in Atlanta; the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which oversees much of the deep South, relocated from downtown to Midtown in 2001. National financial services company Foundation Financial Group has its mortgage operations headquartered in the Galleria-area. City, state and civic leaders harbor long-term hopes of having the city serve as the home of the secretariat of a future Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Atlanta's biotechnology sector is growing, gaining recognition through such events as the 2009 BIO International Convention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are located adjacent to Atlanta and to the Emory University campus, with a staff of nearly 15,000. Atlanta is also the headquarters of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region II.
The city is a major cable television programming center. Ted Turner began the Turner Broadcasting System media empire in Atlanta, and established the headquarters of the Cable News Network at CNN Center, adjacent today to Centennial Olympic Park. As his company grew, its other channels centered their operations in Atlanta as well. Turner Broadcasting is a division of Time Warner. In 2008 Tyler Perry established his studios in Southwest Atlanta; and in 2010 EUE/Screen Gems opened soundstages in Lakewood Heights, south Atlanta. (See also: Film industry in Georgia (U.S. state)) The Weather Channel has its offices in the Cumberland district northwest of downtown Atlanta.
Cox Enterprises, headquartered in Sandy Springs, has substantial media holdings in and beyond Atlanta. Its Cox Communications division is the third-largest cable television service provider in the United States.
Atlanta, while geographically at the center of the American South, has a culture that is no longer strictly Southern. More than half of Metro Atlanta residents were born outside Georgia including 13% born outside the U.S. Atlanta's culture reveals itself at the High Museum of Art, the bohemian shops of Little Five Points, at its many neighborhood festivals, and in the cuisines from around the world found along Buford Highway.
Atlanta has flourishing music, fine art, and theater scenes. It has also become a major regional center for film and television production.
In music, Atlanta has been called the "center of gravity" for hip hop, including Southern hip hop, and is also an important center for R&B and of neo soul. The city is the current home or birthplace of many hip-hop artists including Lil Jon, Ludacris, and Usher. It is also a center of gospel music where the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards take place. Atlanta also has strong live music, pop, rock, indie-rock, country, blues and jazz scenes, including artists such as the Indigo Girls, and Outkast. From the 1920s through 1950s, Atlanta, with its many mill workers from Appalachia bringing their music with them, became a major center for country music.
The Fox Theatre is a historic landmark and is among the highest grossing theatres in of its size. The city also has a large collection of highly successful music venues of various sizes that host top and emerging touring acts including the Tabernacle, the Variety Playhouse and The Masquerade.
The High Museum of Art is arguably the South's leading art museum. Other art institutions include the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, and the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory, containing the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast.
Theater groups include the Alliance Theater, winner of the 2007 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the internationally known Center for Puppetry Arts and dozens of other groups across the city and Metro Atlanta.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra plays at its concert hall at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, which also houses the High Museum of Art and Alliance Theatre. The Atlanta Opera and The Atlanta Ballet usually perform at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre at the city's northwest edge. Atlanta's renowned classical musicians have included conductors Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony's Robert Spano.
In literature, Atlanta has been the home of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, one of the best-selling books of all time; Alice Walker, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple; Alfred Uhry, playwright of Driving Miss Daisy, and Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Brer Rabbit children's stories. Famous journalists include Ralph McGill, the anti-segregationist editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper. Atlanta is also the home of contemporary editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich, who is syndicated nationally to 150 newspapers.
Atlanta has become a major regional center for film and television production, especially since 2008 when Georgia state tax credits were increased. Tyler Perry Studios, TurnerStudios and EUE/Screen Gems studios are located in the city. Metro Atlanta is frequently seen in films and on TV including the top-rated Real Housewives of Atlanta, Drop Dead Diva, The Walking Dead, and The Vampire Diaries. Atlanta has gained recognition as a center of production of horror and zombie-related productions, with Atlanta magazine dubbing the city the "Zombie Capital of the World". The city was most famously the setting for the film Gone with the Wind, while the nearby CDC is often mentioned in fiction novels. In addition to numerous other film festivals, Atlanta is the host of the Atlanta Film Festival, an Academy Award qualifying, international film festival held every April and showcasing a diverse range of independent films, including genre films such as horror and sci-fi.
As of 2010, the city is the seventh-most visited city in the United States, with over 35 million visitors per year. The city was the 12th most popular destination for overseas visitors, who numbered 712,000 in total (2010).
Atlanta's museums, the High in particular (see Museums in Atlanta) are a great draw, as are the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, the Georgia Aquarium (the world's largest indoor aquarium), and the World of Coca-Cola.
Other museums include the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum, the Carter Center and Presidential Library, and the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum (where Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind). Museums geared specifically towards children include the Fernbank Science Center and Imagine It! The Children's Museum of Atlanta. The Atlanta Botanical Garden, next to Piedmont Park, is home to the only canopy-level pathway of its kind in the U.S., 600-foot-long (180 m). Zoo Atlanta, located in Grant Park, is one of only four zoos in the U.S. currently housing giant pandas.
Outdoor events and attractions are plentiful. Piedmont Park hosts many of Atlanta's festivals, including the annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Festival Peachtree Latino, Music Midtown, and Atlanta Pride. Most older intown neighborhoods hold yearly festivals as well, such as the Inman Park Festival and Virginia-Highland Summerfest. Yearly traditions include the Southeastern Flower Show, and at Christmastime the Macy's (originally Rich's) Great Tree and "Pink Pig" ride at Macy's Lenox Square.
Atlanta's cuisine reflects both Southern and much broader influences. The city is home to a mix of high-end chef-driven restaurants receiving praise at the national level, an ethnic restaurant scene along Buford Highway, and traditional Southern eateries.
Since the turn of the 21st century, Atlanta has emerged as a sophisticated restaurant town. Many restaurants opened in the city's gentrifying neighborhoods have received praise at the national level, including Bocado, Bacchanalia, Flip Burger Boutique, and Miller Union in West Midtown, Empire State South in Midtown, and Two Urban Licks and Rathbun's on the east side. The New York Times in 2011 characterized Empire State South and Miller Union as reflecting "a new kind of sophisticated Southern sensibility centered on the farm but experienced in the city".
Buford Highway, stretching from near Buckhead to Gwinnett County, is the area's international food destination with ethnic restaurants including Vietnamese, Indian, Cuban, Korean, Mexican, Chinese, and Ethiopian.
Local landmarks include The Varsity, opened in 1928 and the world's largest drive-in restaurant, and Mary Mac's Tea Room, opened in 1945, a traditional destination for Southern food. Paschal's and the Busy Bee Cafe have been soul food favorites since the 1940s.
There are over 1,000 places of worship within the city of Atlanta, with a wide range of religious faiths represented. The Southern Baptist, the Methodist and the Roman Catholic are the largest denominations in Metro Atlanta. Other prominent churches include the Episcopal, Church of God and independent charismatic churches. Traditional African American denominations such as the National Baptist Convention, the Church of God in Christ, and the AME Church are also represented and have several seminaries that form the Interdenominational Theological Center complex in the Atlanta University Center. The Methodist Candler School of Theology is located at Emory University.
Megachurches in the area include pastor Andy Stanley's North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, ranked as the third largest church in the U.S., and the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, with 14,000 members. Primarily African American megachurches in Metro Atlanta include Creflo Dollar's World Changers Church International in College Park claiming nearly 30,000 members and Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, with 25,000.
The Roman Catholic Church states that its membership in the metro area more than tripled from 292,300 in 1998 to 900,000 in 2010, about 16% of the population. Atlanta is both an archdiocese and a metropolitan see. Atlanta is also the see of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
Metro Atlanta has a 120,000-strong Jewish community, ranked 11th largest in the U.S. in 2006. One of the area's approximately 15 Hindu temples, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta in Lilburn is the largest Hindu temple outside of India. There also are an estimated 75,000 Muslims in the metro area and about 35 mosques. Buddhist temples include the Tibetan Buddhist Drepung Loseling Monastery in Brookhaven, associated with Emory University and where the Dalai Lama has spoken.
In 2008, 83.3% of the population five years and older spoke only English at home, while 8.8% spoke Spanish, 3.9% another Indo-European language and 2.8% an Asian language.
Atlanta's dialect has traditionally been a variation of Southern American English. The Chattahoochee River long formed a border between the Coastal Southern and Southern Appalachian dialects. However by 2003 Atlanta magazine concluded that Atlanta had become significantly "de-Southernized", with a Southern accent in at least some circumstances considered a handicap, noting that country DJ Moby had been fired from station WKHX-FM because his accent was too Southern. In general, Southern accents are less prevalent among whites in the city and inner suburbs and among younger people, while they are more common in the outer suburbs and among older people; this pattern coexists alongside Southern variations of African American Vernacular English.
The Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball began playing in 1871 as the Boston Red Stockings, and is the oldest continually operating professional sports franchise in America. The Braves won the World Series in 1995, and had an unprecedented run of 14 straight divisional championships from 1991 to 2005.
The Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League have played in Atlanta since 1966 and currently play at the Georgia Dome. They have won the division title four times (1980, 1998, 2004, 2010) and one conference championship—going on to finish as the runner-up to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999.
The Atlanta Hawks have been the National Basketball Association franchise of Atlanta since 1969. The Atlanta Dream plays in the Women's National Basketball Association. Atlanta does not currently have an National Hockey League (NHL) team. The Atlanta Silverbacks play in the North American Soccer League (Men) and the W-League (Women).
The Georgia State Panthers participate in 16 intercollegiate sports, including football and basketball, competing in the Colonial Athletic Association, although they will be moving to the FBS Sun Belt Conference on July 1, 2013 for all sports. The Panthers play football in the Georgia Dome as their home field.
Atlanta was the host city for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. Atlanta has also hosted Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 and Super Bowl XXXIV, as well as the NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Championship, most recently in 2007. The city hosts college football's annual Chick-fil-A Bowl (Formerly known as the Peach Bowl) and the Peachtree Road Race, the world's longest 10 km race.
The city's 343 parks, nature preserves, and gardens cover 3,622 acres (14.66 km2) in all. Piedmont Park in Midtown, Atlanta's iconic green space, underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2010. It attracts visitors from across the region and hosts cultural events throughout the year. Centennial Olympic Park forms a centerpoint for downtown visitors while nearby Woodruff Park anchors the business district. Grant Park is home to the city zoo as well as the Cyclorama exhibit, while Chastain Park in Buckhead has an amphitheater for live music concerts. The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area lies in the city's northwest corner.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden, adjacent to Piedmont Park, is home to the Canopy Walk, a 600-foot elevated walkway ambling 40 feet from the ground through a 15-acre forest of mature hardwoods, and the only canopy-level pathway of its kind in the United States.
The BeltLine, a former rail corridor, forms a 22 miles (35 km) loop around Atlanta's core, is being developed as a multi-use trail (as of early 2012, several segments are open), and eventually will be used for transit. BeltLine projects will increase Atlanta's park space by 40%, including a new Westside Park, which will be Atlanta's largest. The PATH Foundation maintains BeltLine and other biking and walking trails.
Beyond the business districts begins a dense canopy of woods that spreads into the suburbs. Atlanta is nicknamed the "city in a forest", and at 36%, the city's tree coverage is the highest of all major U.S. cities. The Atlanta Dogwood Festival, an annual arts and crafts festival, is held each April when the dogwoods are in bloom.
Atlanta is governed by a mayor and the Atlanta City Council. The city council consists of 15 representatives—one from each of the city's 12 districts and three at-large positions (a district system superseded the ward system in 1954). The mayor may veto a bill passed by the council, but the council can override the veto with a two-thirds majority. The mayor of Atlanta is Kasim Reed.
Every mayor elected since 1973 has been black. In 2001, Shirley Franklin became the first woman to be elected Mayor of Atlanta, and the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of a major southern city. Atlanta city politics suffered from a notorious reputation for corruption during the 1990s administration of Bill Campbell, who was convicted by a federal jury in 2006 on three counts of tax evasion in connection with gambling income he received while Mayor during trips he took with city contractors.
As the state capital, Atlanta is the site of most of Georgia's state government. The Georgia State Capitol building, located downtown, houses the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state, as well as the General Assembly. The Governor's Mansion is located in a residential section of Buckhead. The city has four major Federal Buildings. Atlanta also serves as the home of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia; the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta oversees the Sixth District of the Federal Reserve.
Atlanta has historically been a stronghold for the Democratic Party. Although municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, nearly all of the city's elected officials are known to be Democrats. The city is split between 14 state house districts and four state senate districts, all held by Democrats. At the federal level, Atlanta is split between two congressional districts. The northern three-fourths of the city is located in the 5th district, represented by Democrat John Lewis. The southern fourth is in the 13th district, represented by Democrat David Scott.
Crime in Atlanta has been consistently dropping; between 2001 and 2009 it dropped by 40%, according to the FBI: homicide by 57%, rape by 72% and violent crime overall by 55%. Crime is down across the country, but Atlanta's improvement has occurred at more than twice the national rate. The city is served by the Atlanta Police Department with its 1,700 officers.
The city has more than 30 institutions of higher education, including Emory University, a prominent liberal arts and research institution that has been consistently ranked as a top 20 U.S. school by U.S. News & World Report; Georgia Institute of Technology, a premier research university that has been ranked among the nation's top ten public universities since 1999 by U.S. News & World Report; Georgia State University, a comprehensive public research university located downtown; the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, a private arts university; a campus of Mercer University; and the Atlanta University Center, the largest contiguous consortium of historically black colleges, comprising Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center; Morris Brown College is a former member.
Notable colleges and universities in Metro Atlanta include Oglethorpe University, Agnes Scott College, a women's college, and Kennesaw State University, the third largest university in Georgia. See List of colleges and universities in metropolitan Atlanta for a full listing.
The Atlanta metro area is served by dozens of local television stations and is the eighth largest designated market area (DMA) in the U.S. with 2,387,520 homes (2.0% of the total U.S.). The Atlanta radio market is ranked seventh in the nation by Arbitron, and is home to more than forty radio stations. See Media in Atlanta for a full list of TV and radio stations.
The nation's first cable superstation launched in Atlanta in 1976, WTCG (Channel 17). The station changed its call letters to WTBS in 1979. In 2007, parent Turner Broadcasting System separated the local (WPCH-TV, "Peachtree TV") and national ("TBS") feeds. Based in Atlanta are other Turner properties TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, HLN, truTV, and Turner Classic Movies, as well as NBC Universal's The Weather Channel.
Cox Enterprises has substantial media holdings in and beyond Atlanta. Its Cox Communications division is the nation's third-largest cable television service provider; the company also publishes over a dozen daily newspapers in the United States, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. WSB AM—the flagship station of Cox Radio—was the first broadcast station in the South.
Atlanta's transportation system is a complex infrastructure of several systems, including 47.6 miles of heavy rail, 91 bus transit routes, 1600 licensed taxis, a comprehensive network of freeways, one of the world's busiest airports and over 45 miles of bike paths.
The city began as a railroad town, and remains a major rail junction and home of major classification yards for Norfolk Southern and CSX. Amtrak provides the only remaining passenger service via its daily Crescent service to cities between New Orleans and New York.
A 2011 Brookings Institute study placed Atlanta 91st of 100 metro areas for transit accessibility. Atlanta's subway system, operated by MARTA, is the eighth busiest in the country. The rail system is complemented by MARTA's bus system, the 14th largest in the country.
With a comprehensive network of freeways that radiate out from the city, Atlantans rely on their cars as the dominant mode of transportation in the region. Atlanta is mostly encircled by Interstate 285, a beltway locally known as "the Perimeter" which has come to mark the boundary between the city and close-in suburbs ("ITP": Inside The Perimeter) from the outer suburbs and exurbs: ("OTP": Outside The Perimeter). This reliance on cars has resulted in heavy traffic and has helped make Atlanta one of the more polluted cities in the country. The Clean Air Campaign was created in 1996 to help reduce pollution in metro Atlanta. Since 2008, Metro Atlanta has ranked at or near the top of lists of longest average commute times and worst traffic in the country.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport as measured by passenger traffic and aircraft traffic, offers air service to over 150 U.S. destinations and more than 80 international destinations in 52 countries, with over 2,700 arrivals and departures daily. Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways maintain their largest hubs at the airport. Situated 10 miles (16 km) south of downtown, the airport covers most of the land inside a wedge formed by Interstate 75, Interstate 85, and Interstate 285.
Atlanta, as the home of 24 general consulates, contains the seventh-highest concentration of diplomatic missions in the United States. Most of the diplomatic missions are located in Buckhead, Midtown, or Peachtree Center. The city is also home to 36 honorary consulates. In 2011, it was announced that Atlanta would be the host of the next Indian consulate. Atlanta has 19 sister cities.
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