The New International Encyclopædia/Atlanta

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ATLAN′TA. The capital of Georgia, and county seat of Fulton County, 171 miles west by north of Augusta and 294 miles northwest of Savannah (Map: Georgia, B 2). It is popularly known as the “Gate City,” and is the largest city in the State, the commercial metropolis of the northern section, and one of the important railroad centres of the South. It lies at the base of the Blue Ridge, near the Chattahoochee River, and has an elevation of 1000 to 1100 feet above sea level and a healthful climate with a mean annual temperature of about 60° Fahrenheit. The city is laid out in a circle and possesses a fine public library, the State Library with over 50,000 volumes, a valuable geological collection, and numerous educational institutions. It is the seat of the Georgia School of Technology (founded in 1888), a branch of the State University at Athens; Atlanta University, founded in 1869; Clark University (Methodist Episcopal), established in 1870; Atlanta Baptist College, organized in 1867; and two medical schools. Among the more important buildings are the State Capitol, court-house, city hall, custom-house, opera-house, chamber of commerce, and several commodious office buildings. Other points of interest are Grant and Piedmont parks, the latter being the site of the Atlanta Exposition of 1895. In the vicinity of the city are prosperous agricultural communities and popular suburbs; and Fort McPherson (q.v.), a Government army post, is four miles distant to the south.

NIE 1905 Atlanta.jpg

Atlanta carries on a large export trade in cotton, tobacco, grain, horses, and mules, its mule market being one of the most important in the United States. The products of its industrial establishments include cotton goods, cotton-seed oil, bags, furniture, machinery, fertilizers, patent medicines, flour, street cars, agricultural implements, and various other foundry and machine-shop products.

The government is administered under a charter of 1874, revised in 1900, which provides for a mayor, who holds office for two years, and a bicameral municipal council; the board of aldermen, consisting of six members, elected at large for three years, and the council of fourteen members, chosen for two years to represent the city wards, but elected by the whole city. Of the administrative officials, only the license inspector and public weighers are appointed by the executive, the municipal council controlling appointments to all other offices except the following, which are filled by popular election: attorney, comptroller, commissioner of public works, marshal, engineer, tax collector, treasurer, and sexton. The annual income and expenditures of the city balance at about $1,800,000; the principal items of expense being $140,000 for the police department (including amounts for police courts, jails, reformatories, etc.), $105,000 for the fire department, $105,000 for the health department (including amounts for street cleaning and sprinkling, and garbage removal), and $150,000 for schools. Atlanta owns its waterworks, which are operated at a yearly cost of about $90,000.

Population: 1850, 2,572; 1870, 21,789; 1890, 65,533; 1900, 89,872, including 2500 persons of foreign birth and 35,900 of negro descent. The first settlement was made here about 1839, and was called Terminus, from its being the intended terminus of the Georgia Railroad, completed in 1845. In 1843 it was incorporated as a town under the name Marthasville, and two years later the present name was adopted, while in 1847 a city charter was secured. Atlanta's growth was very rapid, its population being about 15,000 in 1861, and, from its admirable location, it became, at the outbreak of the Civil War, one of the most important cities in the Confederacy, being used as a depot for supplies, a manufacturing centre, a shelter for refugees, and a rallying-place for recruits. In 1864 it was the objective point of General Sherman's campaign from Chattanooga (See Civil War in America.) The Federal army approached the city in July, and after fighting the battle of Peachtree Creek (q.v.), on July 20, closely invested the Confederate works. On July 22 the battle of Atlanta was fought southeast of the city. Hood, the Confederate general in command, making a bloody but unsuccessful attack on Sherman's extreme left under McPherson, who was killed early in the engagement. The Federal loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was about 3500; the Confederate, never accurately determined, was probably as great as 8500. On the 28th another severe engagement, the battle of Ezra Church, was fought west of the city. Hood again attacking, and being again repulsed, the Federals losing about 600 and the Confederates about 4500. Meanwhile Sherman had kept up an almost continual bombardment, and on September 1, by a flank movement, compelled Hood to evacuate, the Federals taking possession on the following day. On the 4th, Sherman ordered all civilian residents to leave Atlanta within five days, and at the end of that time turned the city into a vast military camp. Here he stayed until November 15, when, leaving the larger part of the city in flames, he started for Savannah, on his famous march to the sea. Excepting its court house, churches, and a number of dwellings, Atlanta was almost totally destroyed; but after the war it was quickly built up anew, and grew with great rapidity. In 1878 it became the capital of Georgia, and in 1895-96 the celebrated Cotton States and Industrial Exposition was held here. For Atlanta during the Civil War, see Jacob D. Cox, Atlanta (New York, 1882), in the “Campaigns of the Civil War Series.” For the general history of the city, see W. P. Reed (editor), History of Atlanta (Syracuse, 1889).