Originally an American Indian village called Standing Peachtree, Atlanta can trace its development back to the construction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in the mid-19th century. During the Civil War, Atlanta was known as the transportation hub of the Southeast. As the city struggled to rebuild itself after Union General William T. Sherman's infamous March to the Sea - which burned nearly 70 percent of its buildings to the ground - Atlanta took on a different nickname: "New South."
Built on a modern economy, the revitalized city became a prominent economical and cultural hub, gaining notoriety for events both small (the first Coca-Cola served) and large (as an organizing center of the Civil Rights Movement). Today, Atlanta is the capital and largest city in Georgia, home to over 500,000 people in the city alone. Its population has been the fastest growing in the nation since 2000, adding about 142,000 people each year for the past six years. A mix of African American, Caucasian, American Indian and Hispanic and Latino races, the city has a racial diversity that's greater than the country as a whole.
Atlanta's residents inhabit a range of eclectic neighborhoods just as unique as themselves. Whether looking for upscale shopping and dining or trendy boutiques and funky, laid-back pubs, Atlanta can accommodate. Visit the esteemed neighborhood of Buckhead for a tour of historic Southern mansions, including the Georgia Governor's Mansion and the Swan House. At the glamorous Lennox Square Mall, guests can shop high-end retailers such as Louis Vuitton, BVLGARI and Cartier. For a more casual experience, explore Virginia-Highland's quaint sidewalk cafes, cozy coffeehouses, fabulous antique stores and exceptional art galleries. Or, check out the neighborhood of Grant Park and discover Atlanta event venues catering to everyone from rockers to country-and-western music fans.
With ties to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights Movement, as well the Confederacy and the Civil War, Atlanta also presents a unique mix of historical attractions. History buffs delight in the Atlanta History Center, a unique campus of attractions that together serve as one of the largest history museums in the nation. More than 650,000 visitors a year pay their respects to Dr. King at the King Center, the official memorial of the leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Or, take a journey through time at the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum. Here, Civil War artifacts and the world's largest oil painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta captivate visitors of all ages.
Embracing past and present, Atlanta's historic establishments stand side by side with modern sporting facilities and entertainment venues. The city is home to four professional sports teams: the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, and the MLB's Atlanta Braves. Score a ticket to Turner Field or the Georgia Dome to see one of the home teams. Or, be part of the action by hitting the links at one of Atlanta's 70 public golf courses, which range from local favorite Bobby Jones Golf Course to the championship links found at Lake Lanier Islands Resort.
As the sun sets over Atlanta, the city shows no signs of stopping. Thanks to a thriving music industry, which fostered notable musicians such as Outkast, the Black Crowes, the Indigo Girls, and Usher, Atlanta's guests will not be hard-pressed to catch a live show or jam session. Many restaurants, including the hip Two Urban Licks and the funky Sambuca, offer live jazz Thursday through Saturday. For lovers of Latin music, Loca Luna is the place to be. This exotic scene offers live Latin music every night and features a tapas-style menu and a grand patio with a view of the Midtown skyline.
Several coffeehouses and neighborhood bars also offer live music. An eclectic group can be found listening to live blues at Virginia-Highland's Blind Willie's or enjoying anything from jazz to funk to reggae at Little Five Point's the Five Spot. From world-class attractions and mouth-watering cuisine to gorgeous scenery and Southern charm, Atlanta has become one of the most popular places to live and visit in the Southeast. With no lack of amazing attractions, guests are quick to realize why over 37 million people visit the city each year for its city lights and Southern nights.