Born as a railroad junction in 1837, Atlanta became a major Confederate transportation and munitions center for General William T Sherman, whose Union forces blazed through Georgia in 1864. When they left they burned everything, leaving more than 90% of Atlanta’s buildings in ruins.
After the war, Atlanta became the epitome of the ‘New South, ’ a concept that entailed reconciliation with the North, the promotion of industrialized agriculture, and a progressive business outlook. Atlanta’s relentless boosterism led to civic improvements and energetic business partnerships. Segregation ended relatively painlessly here, compared with other Southern cities, and President John F Kennedy lauded this transition as a model for other communities facing integration.
Atlanta earned a moment in the international spotlight when it hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The city put on her prettiest debutante gown, and CNN beamed her picture worldwide. People took notice, the moving trucks came rolling down the freeways and, like summer weeds, condos sprouted everywhere. Since then, the city has focused its development energy on the downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, both of which have flourished in recent years.