Atlanta was established in 1837 when a New Hampshire engineer broke ground for the southwestern terminal of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. The city has had several names throughout its history. It was first named Terminus, and later renamed Marthasville, after the daughter of the governor. It was changed to Atlanta in 1847 because Marthasville was too long to write on freight orders.
The city grew and prospered through the years, but was virtually destroyed by the Civil War. After the war, the city adopted the legendary phoenix of Egyptian myth as a symbol of Atlanta because, much like the phoenix,Atlanta rose from the ashes to rebuild.
When the 1867 Reconstruction Act created the Third Military District, Atlanta was chosen as the command center for Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The presence of federal troops was a boost to the economy. The Army constructed McPherson Barracks with local materials and purchased food and supplies from Atlanta entrepreneurs. In 1868, Atlanta became the capital of the state, taking the destination from Milledgeville, where the original governor's mansion still stands.
Post-war industries were located near the three major railroads that led to the center of town. Mills produced materials needed to rebuild the city and feed its residents.
By the 1890s, factories dotted Atlanta but the city was still not a national industrial power. The drive to modernize Atlanta began in the early 1900s, when the automobile made its mark. There were more than 5,000 automobiles registered in Fulton County by 1916. Fifteen years later, that number had increased tenfold. This reinforced Atlanta's development pattern of downtown office buildings coupled with suburban residences.
This sequence of events, along with other areas of growth, was the start of creating what is now known as the transportation capital of the South. Atlanta has made its mark as a transportation center from its beginning, from a railroad terminal to its present state as a hub for world air traffic. At an altitude of 1,050 feet above sea level, Atlanta enjoys a mild year-round climate. With an annual mean temperature of 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the city enjoys cool summer evenings and moderate winters. Summers are only slightly warmer than those of Chicago and New York and snow falls only occasionally.
More than 5 million people reside in metro Atlanta. Besides being one of the largest state capitals,Atlanta is a regional center for the United States Government and has large numbers of military installations. Dobbins Air Force Base, Fort McPherson, Fort Gillem, the Atlanta Naval Air Station and the 6th District Headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps are located in or close to Atlanta. Atlanta has approximately 57 accredited colleges and universities of various size, student population, cost and educational program.
Some colleges are steeped in history. The University of Georgia was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly Jan. 27, 1785, making Georgia the first state to charter a state-supported university. The Georgia Institute of Technology, founded in 1885, is one of the oldest engineering and technology schools in the nation. Atlanta's institutes of higher learning also are famed for promoting diversity: Morehouse College, founded in 1867, is the nation's only all-male, historically black college; Spelman College, founded in 1881, is the oldest historically-black college for women in the nation; and Wesleyan College, founded in 1836, is the oldest college for women in the country. Atlanta also offers new, ultra-modern schools. Students at Atlanta's educational facilities can pursue nearly every degree or program imaginable. The staff of the Education Center, located at Fort McPherson, can provide more information on the educational opportunities available both on post and in the Atlanta area.