However, the city rose from its ashes and quickly became a national center of commerce and the unofficial capital of the " New South ". During the s and s, Atlanta became a major organizing center of the civil rights movement, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers in north Georgia, Creek Indians inhabited the area. In , the Georgia General Assembly voted to build the Western and Atlantic Railroad in order to provide a link between the port of Savannah and the Midwest. After engineers surveyed various possible locations for the terminus, the "zero milepost" was driven into the ground in what is now Five Points. A year later, the area around the milepost had developed into a settlement, first known as "Terminus", and later as "Thrasherville" after a local merchant who built homes and a general store in the area.
Later, J. By , Atlanta's population had grown to 9, In , the Union Army moved southward following the capture of Chattanooga and began its invasion of north Georgia. The region surrounding Atlanta was the location of several major army battles , culminating with the Battle of Atlanta and a four-month-long siege of the city by the Union Army under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman.
On September 1, , Confederate General John Bell Hood made the decision to retreat from Atlanta, and he ordered the destruction of all public buildings and possible assets that could be of use to the Union Army. On the next day, Mayor James Calhoun surrendered Atlanta to the Union Army, and on September 7, Sherman ordered the city's civilian population to evacuate. On November 11, , Sherman prepared for the Union Army's March to the Sea by ordering the destruction of Atlanta's remaining military assets.
After the Civil War ended in , Atlanta was gradually rebuilt. Due to the city's superior rail transportation network, the state capital was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta in Beginning in the s, Henry W. Grady , the editor of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, promoted Atlanta to potential investors as a city of the " New South " that would be based upon a modern economy and less reliant on agriculture.
In , Atlanta hosted the Cotton States and International Exposition , which attracted nearly , attendees and successfully promoted the New South's development to the world. During the first decades of the 20th century, Atlanta experienced a period of unprecedented growth. In three decades' time, Atlanta's population tripled as the city limits expanded to include nearby streetcar suburbs.
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The city's skyline emerged with the construction of the Equitable , Flatiron , Empire , and Candler buildings; and Sweet Auburn emerged as a center of black commerce. The period was also marked by strife and tragedy. Increased racial tensions led to the Atlanta Race Riot of , which left at least 27 people dead and over 70 injured. In , Leo Frank , a Jewish-American factory superintendent, was convicted of the murder of a year-old girl in a highly publicized trial.
He was hanged in Marietta by a lynch mob in after having his death sentence commuted, an event which deeply impacted the Jewish community in Atlanta and across the country. On December 15, , Atlanta hosted the premiere of Gone with the Wind , the epic film based on the best-selling novel by Atlanta's Margaret Mitchell. Selznick , and the film's stars Clark Gable , Vivien Leigh , and Olivia de Havilland , but Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel , an African American actress, was barred from the event due to racial segregation laws and policies.
Atlanta played a vital role in the Allied effort during World War II due to the city's war-related manufacturing companies, railroad network and military bases, leading to rapid population and economic growth. In the s, the city's newly constructed highway system allowed middle class Atlantans the ability to relocate to the suburbs. As a result, the city began to make up an ever-smaller proportion of the metropolitan area's population.
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During the s, Atlanta was a major organizing center of the civil rights movement , with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While minimal compared to other cities, Atlanta was not free of racial strife. In , whites comprised Under Mayor Jackson's tenure, Atlanta's airport was modernized, solidifying the city's role as a transportation center. The opening of the Georgia World Congress Center in heralded Atlanta's rise as a convention city.
Atlanta was selected as the site for the Summer Olympic Games. Following the announcement , the city government undertook several major construction projects to improve Atlanta's parks, sporting venues, and transportation infrastructure. While the games themselves were marred by numerous organizational inefficiencies as well as the Centennial Olympic Park bombing ,  the spectacle was a watershed event in Atlanta's history that initiated a fundamental transformation of the city in the following decade. During the s, Atlanta underwent a profound physical, cultural , and demographic transformation.
Atlanta encompasses Located at the far northwestern edge of the city, much of the river's natural habitat is preserved, in part by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Most of Atlanta was burned during the Civil War, depleting the city of a large stock of its historic architecture. Yet architecturally, the city had never been traditionally "southern" because Atlanta originated as a railroad town, rather than a patrician southern seaport like Savannah or Charleston.
Many of the city's landmarks share architectural characteristics with buildings in the Northeast or Midwest.
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During the Cold War era, Atlanta embraced global modernist trends, especially regarding commercial and institutional architecture. In the latter half of the s, Atlanta became one of the early adopters of postmodern designs that reintroduced classical elements to the cityscape. Many of Atlanta's tallest skyscrapers were built in the late s and early s, with most displaying tapering spires or otherwise ornamented crowns, such as the 1,,square-foot , The Fox Theatre —Atlanta's cultural icon—would have met the same fate had it not been for a grassroots effort to save it in the mids.
Atlanta is divided into officially defined neighborhoods.
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Downtown , Midtown , and Buckhead. Downtown Atlanta contains the most office space in the metro area, much of it occupied by government entities. Downtown is home to the city's sporting venues and many of its tourist attractions. Midtown Atlanta is the city's second-largest business district, containing the offices of many of the region's law firms.
Midtown is known for its art institutions, cultural attractions, institutions of higher education, and dense form. The district is marked by an urbanized core along Peachtree Road , surrounded by suburban single-family neighborhoods situated among dense forests and rolling hills. Surrounding Atlanta's three high-rise districts are the city's low- and medium-density neighborhoods ,  where the craftsman bungalow single-family home is dominant.
These neighborhoods, many of which contain their own villages encircled by shaded, architecturally-distinct residential streets, include the Victorian Inman Park , Bohemian East Atlanta , and eclectic Old Fourth Ward. Drive, including those neighborhoods remote to downtown, such as Riverside, Bolton and Whittier Mill, which is one of Atlanta's designated Landmark Historical Neighborhoods.
Vine City, though technically Northwest, adjoins the city's Downtown area and has recently been the target of community outreach programs and economic development initiatives. Gentrification of the city's neighborhoods is one of the more controversial and transformative forces shaping contemporary Atlanta. The gentrification of Atlanta has its origins in the s, after many of Atlanta's neighborhoods had undergone the urban decay that affected other major American cities in the midth century. When neighborhood opposition successfully prevented two freeways from being built through the city's east side in , the area became the starting point for Atlanta's gentrification.
After Atlanta was awarded the Olympic games in , gentrification expanded into other parts of the city, stimulated by infrastructure improvements undertaken in preparation for the games. Gentrification post has been aided by the Atlanta Housing Authority 's eradication of the city's public housing and, more recently, the construction of the Beltline.
July averages January averages Typical of the southeastern U. The average annual rainfall is Tornadoes are rare in the city itself, but the March 14, EF2 tornado damaged prominent structures in downtown Atlanta. The United States Census reported that Atlanta had a population of , The racial makeup and population of Atlanta was Those from some other race made up 2. Hispanics of any race made up 5. Atlanta has one of the highest LGBT populations per capita, ranking third among major American cities, behind San Francisco and slightly behind Seattle , with In the Census, Atlanta was recorded as the nation's fourth-largest majority-black city.
It has long been known as a center of African-American political power, education, and culture, often called a black mecca. From to , the city's black population decreased by 31, people, shrinking from At the same time, the white population of Atlanta has increased. Between and , the proportion of whites in the city's population grew faster than any other U.
Out of the total population five years and older, Religion in Atlanta , while historically centered on Protestant Christianity , now involves many faiths as a result of the city and metro area's increasingly international population.
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Metro Atlanta also has numerous ethnic or national Christian congregations, including Korean and Indian churches. The larger non-Christian faiths are Judaism , Islam and Hinduism. Overall, there are over 1, places of worship within Atlanta. Corporate operations play a major role in Atlanta's economy, as the city claims the nation's third-largest concentration of Fortune companies.
Atlanta started as a railroad town, and logistics has been a major component of the city's economy to this day. Atlanta serves as an important rail junction and contains major classification yards for Norfolk Southern and CSX. Since its construction in the s, Hartsfield—Jackson Atlanta International Airport has served as a key engine of the city's economic growth. Media is also an important aspect of Atlanta's economy. In fact, the city is even a major cable television programming center. Cox Enterprises , the nation's third-largest cable television service and the publisher of over a dozen American newspapers, is headquartered in the city.
Information technology—a business sector that includes publishing, software development, entertainment and data processing—has garnered a larger percentage of Atlanta's economic output. Atlanta has, indeed, been nicknamed the " Silicon peach " thanks to its burgeoning technology sector. The city also is ranked as the sixth fastest-growing community for information technology jobs, with an employment growth of 4.
Information technology companies are drawn to Atlanta's lower costs and educated workforce. Compared to other American cities, Atlanta's economy in the past had been disproportionately affected by the financial crisis and the subsequent recession , with the city's economy earning a ranking of 68 among American cities in a September report due to an elevated unemployment rate, declining real income levels, and a depressed housing market.
Compared with a year earlier, the average home price in Atlanta plummeted to Atlanta has a dynamic, distinctly Southern , culture. This is due to a large population of migrants from other parts of the U. This unique cultural combination reveals itself in the arts district of Midtown, the quirky neighborhoods on the city's eastside , and the multi-ethnic enclaves found along Buford Highway. Atlanta is one of few United States cities with permanent, professional, and resident companies in all major performing arts disciplines: Atlanta attracts many touring Broadway acts, concerts, shows, and exhibitions catering to a variety of interests.
The city frequently hosts touring Broadway acts, especially at The Fox Theatre , a historic landmark among the highest-grossing theatres of its size. As a national center for the arts,  Atlanta is home to significant art museums and institutions. The renowned High Museum of Art is arguably the South's leading art museum and among the most-visited art museums in the world.
Institutions of higher education contribute to Atlanta's art scene, with the Savannah College of Art and Design's Atlanta campus providing the city's arts community with a steady stream of curators, and Emory University's Michael C. Carlos Museum containing the largest collection of ancient art in the Southeast.
Atlanta has become one of the USA's best cities for street art in recent years. Atlanta has played a major or contributing role in the development of various genres of American music at different points in the city's history. Beginning as early as the s, Atlanta emerged as a center for country music , which was brought to the city by migrants from Appalachia.