Cool, creative and charismatic, Atlanta is the capital and most populous city of Georgia, but how much do you really know about it? From the home of Coca-Cola to the story behind its nickname, here are a few interesting facts about Atlanta that might surprise you.
Interesting facts about Atlanta
1. It hasn’t always been Atlanta
Atlanta was founded in 1837 and named Terminus and Marthasville. Why? It was located at the end of the Western and Atlantic railroad (Terminus) and honoured the then governor’s daughter (Martha). The city was renamed in 1845 in honour of the railroad engineer J.Edgar Thompson, shortened from Atlantica-Pacifica.
2. Atlanta was destroyed by an act of war
Ever wondered why Atlanta is nicknamed the Phoenix City? On November 15, 1864, at the end of the U.S. Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman led Union forces across the city and torched more than 3,000 buildings, including schools, hospitals, businesses and homes. The so-called Atlanta Campaigned aimed to cut off the city’s supplies that provided Confederate troops with reinforcements, ammunition and goods. Sherman and his troops then launched their “March to the Sea” campaign, a “scorched earth” policy that involved destroying civilian property, military targets and businesses across Georgia to the port city of Savannah.
Much like a phoenix, the city literally rose from the ashes to become one of the United States’ fastest-growing metropolises.
3. Coca-cola was born in Atlanta
The world’s favourite sugary drink was born in Atlanta. On May 8 1886, a Dr John Pemberton sold his first glass of Coca-Cola at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in downtown Atlanta. He originally billed the beverage as a tonic for common ailments but started distributing it from soda fountains after he removed cocaine from the ingredients list. The trademark “Coca-Cola” was registered in the U.S. Patent Office in 1893.
Today, the city is home to the world’s only World of Coca-Cola, a museum dedicated to the fizzy drink.
4. Atlanta is home to one of the world’s largest Hindu temples outside of India
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta is the largest temple of its kind outside India. Built in 2007, this Hindu place of worship is part of a larger network of traditional Hindu temples across the world. Built from more than 34,000 pieces of Italian Carrara marble, Turkish limestone and Indian pink sandstone, artists etched designs and motifs into the rocks before they were shipped to the United States and pieced together. A group of volunteers donated over one million hours to the project.
The temple now boasts five pinnacles, including one reaching 75 feet tall. It also features 340 columns, 86 decorative ceilings and 116 archways.
5. There are a lot of ‘peachtrees’ in Atlanta
There are more than 70 roads, avenues and lanes with the word “Peachtree” in their name. It has nothing to do with peach trees though, most historians agree that it’s probably a corruption of the 18th-century local name for “pine tree”, since the city is surrounded by pine tree forests.
There’s only one Peachtree Street though. The street cuts through the Five Points financial district, through Midtown and up to Buckhead. it’s one of the most important streets in the city.
6. Atlanta is a haven for movie-makers
Nicknamed the “Hollywood of the South”, Atlanta is home to the largest purpose-built studio outside of Hollywood. Thousands of people at Pinewood Atlanta Studios. It has produced countless movies too, such as Spider-Man, the Avengers and the Black Pantha.
As well as being a major economic and cultural centre, the city and surrounding areas boast diverse landscapes, easy access and the nation’s largest and most generous film incentive scheme, amounting to $870 million in subsidies to productions in 2019.
7. A tree canopy covers half of Atlanta
An urban tree canopy covers almost half of Atlanta (47.9%), hence its nickname “City in a Forest”. Beyond Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead, the skyline gives way to sprawling woodlands of native dogwoods, maples, cedars, and birches. This greenery also filters out pollutants and keeps pavements and buildings cool in the heat.