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Event Details

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Oct. 3-5, 2013

Georgia World
Congress Center

285 A Young Internat'l Blvd.

Atlanta, GA 30313  Map

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2013 Life@50+

The History of Atlanta

From railroad hub to international city

AARP Life@50+  Atlanta: History

Atlanta's native son, Martin Luther King Jr. — Photo by Tom Hollyman

Atlanta’s rich history is just one of the many reasons AARP members should join us in the Big Peach for our national Life@50+ event in 2013. Atlanta rose from the ashes following its destruction during the Civil War to become the mecca of the new South and an exciting international city.

The first residents of Georgia were native Americans called Mound Builders. The Cherokee, who settled north and west of the Chattahoochee River, and the Creek, who populated the area south and east of the Chattahoochee, followed them. The state was named after Great Britain’s King George II and was the last of the 13 original U.S. colonies.

Atlanta really began taking shape in 1837, when the Western & Atlantic Railroad selected the site as the southern end of its tracks. The town was called Terminus until 1843, when it was renamed Marthasville after the daughter of Gov. Wilson Lumpkin. In 1845, the city was renamed Atlanta, supposedly a feminine form of “Atlantic,” probably created by an engineer with the Western & Atlantic. The city was incorporated in 1847.

By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta was a major railroad hub, manufacturing center and supply depot. But, in 1864, Union General William T. Sherman’s army burned to the ground all of the railroad facilities, almost every business and more than two-thirds of the city’s homes during his infamous March to the Sea. Atlanta lay in ruins, the only major American city ever destroyed by war.

Atlanta’s first resurgence began soon after. Within four years of Sherman’s attack, the Georgia capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta and a drive to attract new business was underway. By the late 1920s, a downtown business sector, surrounded by residential districts, had taken shape, giving Atlanta much of the distinct pattern it maintains today.

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