History of Atlanta - History


A city in northwestern Georgia. Originally called Terminus and later Marthasville, the community was renamed Atlanta when it was incorporated as a city in 1847. Since Atlanta served as the center of the South's system of milita supplies during the first three years of the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman made her a main objective in his drive across the Confederacy to the sea. The city, which was almost completely destroyed by Sherman's artillery during the siege in the late
summer of 1864, was rebuilt with comparative rapidity during the Reconstruction period. Atlanta became th e state capital in 1868 and has since grown into one of the South 's most important
centers of industry, transportation, and finance.

When Atlanta-a screw gunboat acquired by the Navy in the autumn of 1858-was bought outright on 26 May 1859 under a lease-purchase option contained in the contract of charter, she was renamed Sumpter (q.v.).

(IrcRam: t. 1,006; 1. 204'; b. 41'; dr. 15'9"; s. 10 k.; cpl. 162; a. 2 150-pdr. r., 2 100-pdr. sb.)

The first Atlanta-an iron-hulled, schooner-rigged, screw steamer built at Glasgow, Scotland, by James and George Thompson in the Clyde Bank Iron Shipyard-was completed as Fingal early in 1861 and briefly operated between Glasgow and other ports in Scotland for Hutcheson's West Highland Service.

As Fingal was beginning her career as a merchantman, on the other side of the Atlantic the United States was sinking deeper and deeper into its secession crisis. Then, soon after the Southern attack upon Fort Sumter plunged the nation into war in mid-April 1861, the Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen R. Mallory, sent James Dunwoody Bulloch to England to buy the warships, ordnance, and widely varied supplies needed by the South's fledgling navy. After reaching Liverpool on 4 June e, Bulloch-a former naval officer who had resigned his commission as a lieutenant in the United States Navy on 5 October 1854-quickly arranged for the construction of two fast and powerful cruisers to prey up on Union shipping. He also purchased a large quantity of naval supplies. Next-realizing that he must arrange for a steady flow of new funds before he could go much farther with his purchasing program and also prompted by the fact that the materiel of war that he had already acquired would be useless to the Confederate cause as long as it remained in England-decided to buy a steamship, to fill it with the ordnance that he and an agent of the Southern War Department had accumulated, and to sail in her to America.

To carry out this plan, the enterprising Southern naval agent chartered Fingal with an option to buy her upon a moment's notice if circumstances should arise which made such a move seem to be advisable. Under this arrangement, the ship would appear to be a British vessel under the command of a certified English master while she would actually be completely under Bulloch's control. Thus, Fingal would enjoy the protection of neutral English colors; yet, in the event s he encountered an overinquisitive but none too powerful Union blockader, the English commanding officer might exercise his power of attorney as the agent of the steamer's owner and sign her over to the Confederate Government. In this way, Fingal, under Bulloch's command, could fight for her freedom without compromising British neutrality.

In an attempt to avoid suspicious eyes, the Southern arms were carried by rail and by the coastal steamer Colletis from the vicinity of London to Greenock, Scotland, where Fingal was moored. When the prospective blockade runner was fully loaded, she got underway on the morning of 10 October; moved down the Firth of Clyde; transited the North Channel; and proceeded south through the Irish Sea to Holyhead, Wales, where Bulloch and other Confederate officials and passengers awaited. On the night of the 14th, as she was slowly rounding the breakwater shielding that port, Fingal suddenly came upon unlighted brig Siccardi, slowly swinging at anchor. Although Fingal barely had steerage way and despite the fact that she quickly reversed her engines, she collided with the dark sailing ship. The steamer's sharp bow iereed Siccardi's starboard quarter, and the brig went down before a boat could be lowered.

While Fingal's boats were carrying out rescue operations, Bulloch and the passengers embarked in the steamer. Bulloch sent a letter ashore to request that Messrs. Fraser, Trenholm and Co.-Confederate financial agents in England-settle damages with the brig's owners. Then, lest Fingal be held up by an investigation of the accident which might well bring his whole project to naught, Bulloch ordered the steamer to get underway immediately. She headed for the Azores and replenished her water supply at Praia on the island of Terceira. When the ship reached Bermuda on 2 November, she found CSS Nashville in port; and that Confederate side-wheel cruiser supplied her with coal and a pilot familiar with ". Savannah and the inlets to the southward . ." While Fingal was at Bermuda preparing for a dash to the Confederate coast, the United States consul, suspicious of her purpose, attempted in vain to persuade her crew to leave the ship.

On the afternoon of the 7th, Fingal-cleared for Nassau in the Bahamas-got underway again. Soon after she left port, Bulloch informed the crew that the steamer's real destination was Savannah; but he offered to take anyone who objected to the plan to Nassau. However, all agreed to join in the effort to run the Union blockade; and the ship headed for the Georgia coast. Her two 4 1/2-inch rifled guns were then mounted in her forward gangway ports, and her two breech loading 2 1/2-inch boat guns were put in place on her quarterdeck. The weather was clear as she approached the entrance to Wassau Sound on the night of 11 and 12 November; but, in the wee hours of the morning, a heavy fog settled over the coastal waters and screened the ship from Union eyes, enabling her to slip safely into the Savannah estuary.

The cargo which she broug ht to the munitions-hungry South consisted of 14,000 Enfield rifles, 1,000,000 cartridges, 2,000,000 percussion caps, 3,000 cavalry sabers, 1,000 short rifles with cutlass bayonets, 1,000 rounds per rifle, her own ordnance, 400 barrels of coarse cannon powder, medical supplies, much military clothing, and a large quantity of cloth for sewing still more uniforms. Recalling the voyage after the war, Bulloch proudly stated that "No single ship ever took into the Confederacy a cargo so entirely composed of military and naval supplies . ." and every bit of it was desperately needed by Southern forces.

While Fingal was discharging her most welcome cargo, Bulloch went to Richmond to confer with Secretary of the Navy Mallory and other Confederate leaders seeking approval of what he had done and what he intended to do. His plans called for him next to return to his ship, to fill her with cotton and naval stores, then to escape through the blockade to sea, and finally to steam on to England.

Bulloch returned to Savannah on 23 November heartened by Mallory's app roval of his past performance and of his projected action course of a Ion, and he promptly went to work to obtain a car 0 of cotton and rosin for Fingal's outward voyage. However, the very next day, the first of a series of events occurred that would keep Fingal in port and ultimately would make her useless to the South.

Optimistic because of his great victory at Port Royal, S.C., earlier in the month, Flag Officer Samuel F. Du Pont-the commanding officer of the newly established South Atlantic Blockading Squadron-ordered a Union naval force to waters off Savannah. On the 24th, in response to Du Pont's instructions, Comdr. John Rodgers led a party of Union sailors and marines ashore on Tybee Island, which controlled the mouth of the Savannah River, closing to Fingal that avenue of escape. The next day, Bulloch wrote Mallory reporting this development, explainin that "the only egress left for Fingal is through Warsaw [sic] Inlet . ." and warning that . it can scarcely be supposed that the enemy will pernlit it to remain open many days . ." .

Yet, despite the urgency of loading the steamer and preparing her for sea, other pressing demand s upon Southern railroads delayed the arrival of her coal and cargo o. Thus, she was not ready to sail until 20 December; and, by that time, Union blockaders had sealed off Wassau Sound, ending the steamer's last chance to reach the Atlantic.

Slow to abandon hope that changed conditions might yet enable him to slip out to sea, Bulloch remained on board the steamer until mid-January 1862. Then, yielding to the inevitable and prodded by pressing business abroad, he turned her over to Lt. George T. Sinclair, CSN, so that he might proceed to England independently and resume his duties there.

Under Sinclair, Fingal for a time continued to seek an opportunity to dash out to sea; but this hope was abandoned before spring; and the ship was taken into the Confederate Navy. She was stripped to her deck; covered with a slanted, armored roof, flat at the center; and fitted with a sharp reinforced-steel bow which could be used to pierce the hulls of wooden enemy vessels. The contract for converting her into an ironclad ram was awarded to the Tift brothers, Nelson and Asa F.; and her metamorphosis-financed largely by contributions from the ladies of Savannahwas completed during the summer. The new warship was renamed Atlanta.

However, in her new configuration as a fighting ship, Atlanta suffered from several serious shortcomings. Her new armor and ordnance increased her draft to almost 16 feet, making it difficult for her to operate in the inland waters approaching Savannah. Moreover, her modifications made her extremely slow to respond to her helm and reduced her speed from 13 to 10 knots. She also leaked significantly, and her armored roof all but eliminated circulation of air, turning her into a humid oven during hot weather.

On 31 July, Atlanta-under the command of Lt. Charles H. McBlair, CSN-steamed down the Savannah River toward Fort Pulaski to a point where she could be seen from Union blockaders, but she soon retired above the obstructions. Efforts were then made to correct her defects but with poor results.

In January 1863, Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall-who then commanded the naval defenses of Georgia and, although residing ashore, flew his flag in Atlanta-felt pressure from Mallory to engage Northern naval forces. The Confederate Secretary of the Navy and other officials in Richmond were highly impressed the performance of Virginia-the former screw frigate errimack rebuilt as an ironclad ram-in Hampton Roads the previous March and hoped that Atlanta could boost Southern
morale by repeating Virginia's victory over wooden-hulled Union warship Accordingly, Tattnall made plans to have Atlanta descend the Savannah. However, obstructions blocking the channel
leading to sea prevented Tattnall from launching the operation. In March, the disappointed and frustrated Mallory reacted by relieving Tattnall from the command afloat and later placed Lt.
William A. Webb, CSN, in command of Atlanta, leaving no doubt that he expected great accomplishments from the ironclad ram in the near future.

On 10 June 1863, Rear Admiral Du Pont-sensing that Atlanta was about to descend the Wilmington River for a foray into Wassau Sound and remembering that Monitor had ended Virginia's destructive rampage ordered monitors Weehawken and Nahant to enter Wassau Sound to stop the Southern ironclad ram's attack, should she make one, and to prevent her escape. Capt. John Rodgers in Weehawken had overall command of this Union force.

Five days later, in the earl evening of the 15th, Atlanta got underway and passed over the lower obstructions in the Amington River to get into position for a strike at the Union forces in Wassau Sound. Webb dropped anchor at 8:00 p.m. and spent the remainder of the night coaling. The next evening ". about dark . .," Webb later reported, he ". proceeded down the river to a point of land which would place me in 6 or 7 miles of the monitors, at the same time concealing the ship from their view. ready to move on them at early dawn the next morning."

Atlanta, accompanied by wooden steamers Isondiga and Resolute, got underway before daylight on the 17th. A percussion torpedo was fitted to a long spar projecting forward from the ram's bow, "which," Webb wrote, "I knew should do its work to my entire satisfaction, should I but be able to touch the Weehawken ... ." " Atlanta rounded coming into the channel, was gotten off, but repeatedly failed to obey her helm and ran hard aground again. Weehawken poured five shots from her heavy guns into the Confederate ram, and Nahant moved into attacking position. With two of his gun crews out of action, with two of three pilots severely injured, and with his ship stranded and helpless, Webb was compelled to surrender to prevent further futile loss of life. His two wooden escorts had returned upriver without engaging.

Rodgers reported, "The Atlanta was found to have mounted two 6-inch and two 7-inch rifles, the 6-inch broadside, the 7-inch working on a pivot either as broadside or bow and stern guns. There is a large supply of ammunition for these guns and other stores, said to be of great value by some of the officers of the vessel." At the time of cap ture, 21 officers and 124 men, including marines were on board.

After completion of temporary repairs at Port Royal, Du Pont placed the prize in temporary commission on 26 September and sent her to Philadelphia where she was condemned by a prize court, repaired in the Federal navy yard, and commissioned again on 2 February 1864. Still bearing her Confederate Navy name while in the Federal Navy, Atlanta was assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

During most of her career under Union colors Atlanta was stationed up the James River helping other Northern warships support General Grant's operations against Richmond. Under the command of Acting Lieutenant Thomas J. Woodward, her main service was to guard against a foray from the Confederate capital of the small fleet of Southern warships. On 21 May 1864, she and schooner-rigged screw steamer Dawn shelled Confederate cavalry which was attacking Fort Powhatan on the James. Their gunfire broke up the assault and dispersed the Southern troopers.

After the collapse of the Confederacy, Atlanta steamed north to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 21 June 1865. She was sold at auction at the Philadelphia Navy Yard to Sam Ward on 4 May 1869. No record of her subsequent fate has been found.

Atlanta television had its roots in Atlanta Journal (now Atlanta Journal-Constitution)-owned radio station WSB-AM. The Journal had launched the south's first radio station, WSB AM ("Welcome South Brother"), on 740 kHz (now 750) on March 15, 1922. In the late 1920s, the Journal experimented with a mechanical version of television, but eventually abandoned it. The earliest experiments with television involved a spinning disc with multiple holes in it, which provided ‘movement' on a projected surface.

WSB, channel 8 Edit

Television finally came to Atlanta-area and northern- and upper central-Georgia viewers on September 29, 1948 (called "T-Day" by the Journal) with the debut of WSB-TV, broadcasting on VHF channel 8. The newspaper led up to the TV station's launch, with front-page countdowns designed to boost excitement and sell TV sets. The inaugural WSB-TV program, which began with a recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and a close-up shot of a tiny American flag waving in the wind powered by an electric fan, featured announcer John Cone ("WSB-TV is on the air!"), newscaster Jimmy Bridges, and a host of local dignitaries.

WSB-TV originally broadcast from the Biltmore Hotel. They moved to a building at 1601 West Peachtree Street, about two miles (3 km) north on Peachtree Street in 1956. The building, designed to look like a southern mansion, was christened "White Columns".

WSB-TV, in its abbreviated 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. broadcast day, aired a mix of kinescopes (film copies) which might arrive three days late from the NBC television network (WSB-AM had been a longtime NBC radio network affiliate, and most of the new television equipment was from NBC's corporate cousin, RCA), Atlanta Crackers baseball remote broadcasts from the club's stadium on Ponce de Leon Avenue, local news, and kids shows (Woody Willow, a marionette show featuring several stringed characters created and performed by Don and Ruth Gilpin, and a show featuring a man who built toys). A great many old movies were shown, and the station employed a unique censorship system in which monitors actually cut bits from film that were deemed "not family material" before broadcast. This was a slow and tedious process, handled by two women with scissors, and they usually removed any hint of unsavory language and even scenes in which a man and a woman (even married couples) might be seen in or on a bed.

An early unique use of television occurred when a system-wide transit strike crippled the city and downtown commerce suffered, in an era before shopping malls had been developed in the suburban areas. WSB-TV broadcast, for a time, a daily four-hour "infomercial" (to use the modern term) for Rich's department store, which was affected economically when shoppers could not travel via bus to its downtown location.

In its earliest days, the station aired a test pattern for many hours each day, ostensibly to let people align their new-fangled television sets. It served, however, as extremely cheap "programming" which allowed an audience to gather as someone showed off his or her new set to his or her envious friends. The test pattern, in black and white, featured multiple shades of grey and a large picture of a Native American (the ubiquitous and now-classic Indian Head test card). Early employee Mike McDougald recounted, "I would drive from WSB-AM to WSB-TV and see people congregated outside the store windows watching the test pattern. They were fascinated by it." Virtually all employees of the new WSB-TV were "imports" from the radio station, leaving the radio side somewhat hampered by the loss of talent. WSB-AM continued to thrive, however, and actually supported the new television venture for several years until television moved into the "black".

WAGA-TV, channel 5 Edit

Crosstown radio station WAGA-AM (now WYZE, 1480 AM), owned by The Fort Industries (later renamed "Storer Broadcasting"), launched a station on channel 5 in the fall of 1949, taking CBS, DuMont and occasionally, ABC shows. The new television operation was squeezed into a converted residential house on Peachtree Street, with a tall tower built in the backyard of the property. WAGA-TV's mascot, owned by the station's janitor, was a (real) Yorkshire terrier named "Waga".

In addition to CBS shows, WAGA aired a daily hillbilly music show with local personality Jon Farmer, Atlanta Crackers baseball (taken from WSB and later lost to newcomer WLW-A), interview shows featuring politicians like Senator Herman Talmadge and local newscasts featuring a newsreader sitting at a modest desk with a world map on the wall behind.

I was little girl when my father, Bill McCain was News Director at WAGA. Jim Bailey was the station Manager. As I recall, William was the name of the Janitor/guy Friday, errand runner. I used to ride around in the station's station wagon with him when he did errands. As I recall the dog "WAGA" was a black Scotty, not a Yorkshire terrier. Jon Farmer and his wife Phyllis were good family friends. They also had a ballroom dance show together (as I recall) that ran on Saturday evenings.. Source is myself..

The proposed WCON-TV Edit

WSB-TV and WAGA-TV served Atlanta for two years before a third station arrived. In March 1950, the Cox-owned Atlanta Journal and its crosstown rival, the Atlanta Constitution, merged. The Constitution owned a construction permit for a proposed WCON-TV on the more desirable channel 2 (reaching a larger broadcast range due to lower frequency), which was to have been the city's full-time ABC network station. With the merger, WSB-TV instead moved to channel 2 amid great publicity. WCON-TV thus never opened for business, and its sister radio station, WCON AM 550, was reassigned to nearby Gainesville, Georgia, where it is now WDUN.

WLTV, channel 8 Edit

WSB-TV's move to channel 2 opened an opportunity for a new station to operate on channel 8. In 1951, a group of Atlanta businessmen, including an executive from the local Davison's department store chain, pooled their capital and launched WLTV as Atlanta's first full-time ABC affiliate. WLTV's studios were installed in a small building directly behind WSB-TV's property, because that allowed the station to utilize WSB's old channel 8 transmitting tower. WLTV operated on a very tight budget and offered a smattering of local programming like cooking and fashion shows, "rip-and-read" local news coverage, and a show featuring the city's famous mayor, William B. Hartsfield, who answered viewer mail on his program. The station also offered the first "all Negro" program in Atlanta, a Saturday evening variety show.

WQXI, channel 36 Edit

In late 1953, eager entrepreneurs around the country were constructing UHF TV stations to meet the demand of television-hungry viewers. Southeast radio group owner Robert Rounsaville took the plunge, opening a UHF station off Atlanta's Peachtree Street in the same restored house where his "good music" station, WQXI AM 790, operated. An employee remembered that the station owned a huge, lumbering TV camera that had to be transported from room to room within the building to broadcast local talk shows. The AM station promoted the TV station incessantly, but the September 1953 beginning was met with indifference from Atlantans. Without much in the way of programming apart from old movies, an occasional show from the crumbling DuMont network, and a local Saturday night "Barn Dance," there was little incentive for viewers to spend approximately $40 for a UHF converter. As such, WQXI-TV survived about nine months.

WETV, channel 47, Macon Edit

While not an Atlanta station, Macon's first TV outlet received little attention from viewers or the press. In 1954, competing Macon AM radio stations WBML and WNEX pooled money, along with Macon businessman William Fickling, (later a healthcare tycoon) and launched WETV on channel 47. The NBC affiliate pre-dated the market's dominant CBS affiliate WMAZ, channel 13, by several months. As in Atlanta and other cities, few viewers were willing to pay extra for the special receiver needed to watch the UHF station, and after several shakeups (where channel 47 became WNEX-TV and then WOKA), it ceased operations. WMAZ would then become the central Georgia region's sole commercial television outlet for over a dozen years, until NBC returned in 1968 on another UHF station, WCWB-TV (now WMGT-TV) on channel 41. By that time, television manufacturers had been required by the Federal Communications Commission (under the All-Channel Receiver Act) to enable sets to receive UHF channels, without special external equipment.

WLWA, channels 8/11 Edit

In 1953, Cincinnati-based Crosley Broadcasting Corporation purchased WLTV (channel 8), providing a much-needed infusion of capital and a new name, "WLW-A", in keeping with the company's WLW group branding for its stations in Indiana and Ohio. Among the personalities from WLW-A's early days: Dick Van Dyke, who hosted a twice-daily lip synch show where he and Phil Erickson (together known as The Merry Mutes), along with a female partner, mouthed the lyrics to hit records. WLW-A continued to operate in the shadow of WSB-TV, both physically and in the minds of 1950s viewers. It wasn't until ABC began to get ratings traction with its late-1950s Warner Bros. Western shows that the station came of age.

WROM-TV, channel 9, Rome Edit

Two months after Crosley set up shop in Atlanta, up the road, about 50 miles (80 km) to the northwest, the owners of a local AM radio station in Rome decided to get into television.

WROM AM operated WROM-TV, channel 9, from 1953 until 1958, branding it "Dixie's Largest Independent." The station ran a late-afternoon and prime-time schedule of old movies, "hillbilly" music performances (which were common on Southern TV stations in the 1950s and 1960s) and occasionally, ABC-TV network fare such as Omnibus.

WROM's beginning, and its subsequent move to Chattanooga years later, changed Atlanta TV history and caused a fruit-basket turnover of Southeastern U.S. TV frequencies. As soon as channel 9 in Rome and channel 8 in Atlanta began operating simultaneously, viewers in northwestern Atlanta and in northwestern Georgia to the south of Rome began experiencing trouble tuning in either station. Crosley also wanted to increase transmitting power at its new station, which necessitated a change to present-day channel 11 (now WXIA-TV).

By 1958, WROM's owners were making moves to cash in on their investment. The station began carrying a full prime-time slate of ABC network programs, overlapping programming with WLWA.

In 1959, WROM's owners accepted an offer to sell their TV outlet to Martin Theaters, (reportedly for one million dollars) the company that also purchased Columbus, Georgia's WDAK-TV. Chattanooga had only two VHF stations at the time, WRGP (now WRCB)-TV, channel 3, (NBC) and pioneer broadcasting outlet WDEF-TV, channel 12 (CBS). Chattanooga offered channel 9's investors a better economic model than Rome, so the station moved and became Chattanooga ABC affiliate WTVC. That move 60 miles to the north opened opportunities for other television broadcasters within the state of Georgia.

Atlanta regained channel 8 as an available frequency, though it was reclassified as a non-commercial educational facility, clearing the way for the University of Georgia's Athens-based station, WGTV (which, years later, relocated to its transmitter and tower to Stone Mountain to better serve Atlanta as part of Georgia Public Broadcasting's state network). Columbus, Georgia's NBC affiliate, WDAK-TV, channel 28, was able to move to VHF channel 9 (now WTVM, an ABC affiliate), while Dothan, Alabama's CBS affiliate, WTVY, moved from channel 9 to the more powerful (and thus desirable) channel 4, and Columbus' CBS affiliate, WRBL, moved from channel 4 over to channel 3.

Ironically, Rome partially lost a second television frequency 40 years later, when UHF station channel 14 moved east to Bear Mountain near Waleska and Canton (north of Atlanta) after several years of operation. Though a strong radio market covering most of northwestern Georgia, the Rome metro area simply could not support television capable of competing with Chattanooga and Atlanta, both just 60 miles (100 km) distant north and southeast. Rome still remain's the city of license for the station, however, and it is one of two full-power TV stations having a northwest Georgia city of license, along with GPB's WCLP-TV 18 (now WNGH-TV 18.x, on RF channel 33) in Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth.

Digital changes Edit

Since prior to the 2009 digital-only TV mandate, all local TV stations except WGTV 8 transmit digitally on channels other than their analog ones, with TV channels from 52 to 69 (the 700 MHz band) being taken mostly for 4G LTE mobile phones in a large spectrum auction (FCC auction 73). (WGCL-TV 46 remained on for another month as the designated "nightlight" station, WUVM-LP 4 and WTBS-LP 6 continue in analog as of April 2017 [update] .)

Unlike other major media markets, no Atlanta TV stations will be taken off the air due to the 600MHz auction which ended in early 2017, but UHF channels 38 to 51 are being taken away, which will result in a "repack" of at least half of the local stations onto low UHF channels 14 to 36 in late summer 2019, and WGTV from 8 to 7 in 2020. All stations will still retain their historic channel numbers through the use of virtual channels, but re-scanning of TV tuners will be required after the changes.

WUVG will move from 48 to 18, WUPA from 43 to 36, WSB from 39 to 32, WIRE from 40 to 33, WKTB from 47 to 23, WATC from 41 to 34, WHSG from 44 to 22, and WSKC from 22 to 14. Also included in the same fifth nationwide round of channel repacking, WANN, WPCH, WPXA, and WYGA will do a four-way frequency swap, moving from physical channels 29, 20, 31, and 16 to channels 20, 31, 16, and 29, respectively, in order to make room on those channels for stations in adjacent TV markets and avoid co-channel interference with them. No local stations are moving to VHF channels 2 to 13, but WGTV will change from 8 to 7 In the final repacking round in 2020. No Atlanta-market stations are channel sharing or going off-air due to the reverse auction 1000, but two nearby GPB stations won bids to move from UHF to VHF: WNGH-TV and WJSP-TV.

Story of the Braves

This is the story of the oldest continuously operating professional sports franchise in America. It&aposs a story not only of great teams (the 1914 &aposMiracle&apos Braves, the 1995 World Champs), great ballplayers (Aaron, Spahn, Niekro and Murphy), memorable managers and pleasant stadiums, but also a story of heartbreaking losses and long pennant droughts. It&aposs the story of the Braves and their ancestors - the Red Stockings, Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers, and Bees - and their wanderings from Boston to Milwaukee and Atlanta. In a way, it&aposs also the story of professional baseball in America.

In fact, the franchise that started as the Boston Red Stockings in the 1870s and is now known as the Atlanta Braves is the only one of today&aposs 30 Major League franchises to have fielded a team every season professional baseball has been in existence.

Follow this overview and this section&aposs timeline for more of the rich, sometimes warped, always colorful and truly unique story of the Braves.

Birth and Early Years

On January 20, 1871, the Boston Red Stockings were incorporated by Ivers Whitney Adams with $15,000 and the help of Harry Wright, the "Father of Professional Baseball," who had founded and managed America&aposs first truly professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. Two months later, the Red Stockings became one of nine charter members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Players and the forerunner of the National League.

Like the current Braves, Wright&aposs Red Stockings, were a dominant force. They won six of the first eight pennants in history - National Association flags in 1872-1875 and National League championships in 1877-78. In 1875, they won 26 straight games, and won all 38 home games at the Union Base Ball Ground in Boston&aposs South End.

The Boston Braves

By 1912, Boston&aposs National League franchise had come to be known as the Braves and was slowly emerging from a decade of poor performance. After six league titles in the 1870s and three more in the 1890s, the Braves entered a long colorful chapter in its history. The modern era in Boston started slowly, but included two pennants (1914 and 1948) and one World Series title (1914). In fact, the Miracle Braves of 1914 are among the most well-known teams in baseball history. But by 1952, the Braves had lost much fan support to the Red Sox, Boston&aposs American League team.

The Milwaukee Braves

No one expected the Boston Braves to move to Milwaukee, the home of the Braves&apos top minor-league affiliate, after 82 years in Boston. Braves owner Lou Perini had promised to help Milwaukee attract a Major League team and most people thought it would be the struggling St. Louis Browns. In the Spring of 1953, Perini cited declining fan support in Boston and announced his intention to move the Braves. NL owners unanimously approved, much to the delight of Milwaukee fans. At a parade, 60,000 people citizens cheered the new team. And one of the happiest chapters in Braves history had begun.

Moving to Atlanta

The dwindling fan support that caused the Braves to move from Boston also caused them to move from Milwaukee to Atlanta. That didn&apost mean the city of Milwaukee and State of Wisconsin would go down without a fight. After a series of court battles, injunctions and appeals, the team finally arrived in Atlanta in 1966. They were welcomed with a parade and quickly grew comfortable in their new home, Atlanta Stadium. It only took a few years for the Braves to return to their winning ways.

The Team of the 90's

After the struggles of the mid- and late 1980s, Atlanta baseball fans were ready for a winner and the Braves delivered in the 1990s. From the stunning worst-to-first pennant race of 1991, which captivated the city for months, to the World Championship team of 1995 and the stellar performances of teams in 1996-1999, the Braves were far and away the most successful Major League Baseball team of the decade.

History of Atlanta - History

DWM was formed in September 2002 to manage the City of Atlanta’s essential utility operations: drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems. As part of this operation, DWM manages one of the largest water capital improvement programs in the country at an estimated cost of approximately $4 billion. In addition, the wastewater component of the capital program is largely controlled by two Federal Consent Decrees that have perhaps the most stringent and demanding schedule and performance requirements in the country. These Consent Decrees were ordered by the Federal Court in 1998 and 1999 to compel the City of Atlanta to address the conditions of the wastewater system that had been significantly underfunded and seriously under‐maintained for decades. Watershed Management completed all construction for the first Consent Decree in 2008 in what was termed by the Federal judge a “remarkable accomplishment”. In 2003 the Department resumed operational control of drinking water system that had been outsourced in 1998. This system was in a similar operational condition and subject to two State Consent Orders. These systems are essential to the public health and safety of the residents of the City as well as the economic stability of the City, Region and State. Both systems were in a state of significant disrepair and potential failure.

Since 2002 DWM has made significant improvements in both the physical state and performance of the water utilities. Under a detailed Strategic Plan, focused on continuous improvement, the program moved from no financial plan for the $4 billion capital program to a detailed plan with successful implementation of rate increases, a dedicated municipal sales tax, bond issues, improved budgeting processes and effective costcontrols. The capital program has eliminated over 400 million gallons per year of sewer spills from local streams and rivers, while compliance has avoided millions of dollars in fines and a sewer connection moratorium. The avoidance of the moratorium allowed continued development with a $19 billion economic benefit to the City. From nine boiled water advisories in 2002 the number dropped to zero in 2008. Over the same period, annual water leak repairs rose from 750 to 9,600. Revenue collections rose from approximately 90% to over 98%. Estimated water bills dropped from over 200,000 annually to approximately 110,000 annually and malfunctioning water meters from an estimated 20,000 to approximately 4,000.

Significant improvements have been made in a wide range of operational areas including facility operations, street construction repairs, steel plate management, customer service and call center performance, sewer inspections, financial performance, billing system capabilities & performance, and employee training, retention and recruitment. However, this is a long‐term program of continuous improvement. The Consent Decree extends to 2014, the Water Loss Program will take years to fully implement and decades to complete, the first stage of the water meter replacement and AMR program will be completed this Summer and move to subsequent phases, and the intense capital program ultimately needs to evolve to a long‐term asset management program. While there has been substantial progress and accomplishments, there are improvements that still must be made in virtually every aspect of the utility systems and operations over the next decade.

Why We Need a Civic Season

View of an unidentified poll worker and unidentified voters on election day in 1944, at a polling precinct in Atlanta, Georgia. Courtesy Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center, photographer Boyd Lewis.

Over the past year, the entire world and the United States has been confronted by immense challenges. From the COVID-19 pandemic to contentious elections to protests for racial justice, the news cycle has been filled with stories of strife, pain, and injustice.

At Atlanta History Center, we, too, grappled with these issues as an institution. How can we as a history organization contribute? What’s our role? What’s needed from us?

In short, we need good history. Good history is well-researched, thoughtful, and relevant.

Putting that history to work on the many challenges we’re facing today requires that we tell history from multiple perspectives and recognize the many people and experiences that have shaped the United States.

This summer, along with history and civics organizations across the country, we invite you to join in a program dedicated to just that—the Civic Season.

Partner organizations from the Made By Us coalition and youth organization Civics Unplugged have come together to launch the first-ever Civic Season, stretching from Juneteenth to July 4, highlighting the complexity of the process of becoming one country by and for everyone.

We hope you will be a part of it too.

At Atlanta History Center, Civic Season looks like a virtual Juneteenth celebration spanning the entire month of June. In addition to virtual activities including Author Talks, walking tours, and artist highlights, these activities will be supplemented by a month-long social media and content campaign aimed at highlighting and honoring Black innovation, creativity, and activism.

Civic Season will also look like exploring offerings from organizations all across the United States, from non-partisan resources on civics education to reflective activities and destinations, taking part in the Civic Season can look many different ways.

The bottom line is that today’s issues are only solvable by a broad coalition of interested and engaged people—and that group must include the voices of young people who will shape so much of our history going forward.

The Civic Season is where the past meets the present.

We invite you to find the opportunities that make sense for your Civic Season. Plug into an online event to learn more about the history that informs understanding democracy, the environment, racial justice, and the other pressing issues of today. Visit your local history organization and spend some time learning and reflecting. Share your experiences with your local organization and with Made By Us.

The Atlanta History Center is a founding partner in leading Made By Us, along with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Monticello, the National Archives Foundation, the First Americans Museum, Atlanta History Center, HistoryMiami, Heinz History Center, New-York Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, and Missouri Historical Society. Driven by a coalition of over 100 history museums and sites, Made By Us meets Millennials and Gen Z where they are with history to ignite, inform and inspire their civic participation.

Juneteenth 2021 at Atlanta History Center is supported by The Nissan Foundation.

Atlanta History

Atlanta history is engaging, interesting, and at times, quite downtrodden. This is the case with many of the major southern cities that emerged in the youthful United States in the early nineteenth century. What is today a bustling metropolis overflowing with things to do, cool nightlife, and destinations, had to batter through years of difficulty to recover fully from war.

Just 30 years after the territory that would become Atlanta was sequestered by white settlers from the Cherokee and Creek Native Americans, the American Civil War gripped the nation and divided it along racial, political, and ideological lines. The history of Atlanta Georgia is as much about reconstruction as it is growth, as much about progress as it mishandled disputes.

Some of the most interesting facts about Atlanta point to the ways in which the city collectively and creatively attempted to sidestep and ultimately remedy the racial and other divisions. From slogans like &ldquothe city that is too busy to hate&rdquo to the outright decision to progress in a more post-modern fashion (as opposed to much of the rest of the South), Atlanta has attempted to set aside the bickering and concentrate instead on growth and expansion. It has grown from a handful of settlers in 1822 to being the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States.

Atlanta Map

The first settlement in Atlanta history was in present-day Decatur (just east of the downtown area). It took about fourteen years from this point of taking over the land from the Native American Indians who inhabited it for centuries until the newly formed Georgia General Assembly cast a vote to begin construction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad to connect Atlanta with the Midwestern United States. Between 1838 and 1839, the remaining Cherokees were forcibly removed from their homeland in order to make way for the coming of big industry.

The construction of the railroad began in earnest at this time. In 1842, there were around 6 buildings and 30 residents in the town then called Marthasville. The history of Atlanta Georgia would forever be changed when the chief architect of the railroad suggested changing the name to Atlantica-Pacifica. The name was quickly shortened to Atlanta and ratified by the general assembly. One of the interesting facts about Atlanta is that it is the fifth capital (and present-day capital) in the history of the state. Population boomed to nearly 10,000 people by 1854 when the emergence of another railway connected Atlanta to Lagrange.

The American Civil War impacted the history of Atlanta significantly. General Sherman of the Union side besieged the city with a four-month assault in 1864, resulting in the burning of Atlanta. The general saw it fit to spare the city&rsquos hospitals and churches, but little else. The most interesting facts about Atlanta and its role in the Civil War can be unearthed in a study of its seminal battles: the Battle of Atlanta, the Battle of Peachtree Creek, and the Battle of Ezra Church. The rebuilding process was gradual but much of the semblance of order had been restored by the turn of the twentieth century.

History of Atlanta - History

Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter sing with Martin Luther King, Sr., Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young and other civil rights leaders during a visit to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
Courtesy of Jimmy Carter Library (NLJC)

The history of African Americans in Atlanta is synonymous with the history of Atlanta itself, and is one of progress and perseverance. From the early days of slaveholding until today, when the last five mayors of Atlanta have been African Americans, the story of the largest southern city can be told through the experiences of its largest ethnic minority.

The majority of African Americans were originally brought over from Western Africa and Madagascar as part of the slave trade between 1760 and 1810. Charleston, South Carolina, became the major southern port where African Americans were introduced to the lower south. By 1750 an estimated 240,000 Africans or people of African descent lived in British North America, comprising nearly 20 percent of the total colonial population, mostly concentrated in the southern colonies. In Georgia and South Carolina the wealthy planters drew upon the skills and knowledge of African Americans brought from Senegambia to aid in the cultivation of rice, which was the first major export crop of these southern colonies. The slave trade from Africa was halted by the U.S. Congress after January 1, 1808, and in the North the gradual abolition of slavery took place. In the South, economic factors, notably the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, kept the institution alive.

Charleston, South Carolina, was the main port for the African slave trade to the lower South until 1808, and slaves were sold on the north side of the Exchange and Provost Building
Courtesy of Lissa D'Aqui

Atlanta in 1864, note sign "Auction & Negro Sales"

Courtesy of Library of Congress

The city of Atlanta originated in the 19th century. Starting out as Terminus in 1837, and later named Marthasville in 1843, the rapidly growing town incorporated under the present day name of Atlanta in 1845. Already by 1850, Atlanta had a population which included 493 African slaves, 18 free blacks, and 2,058 whites. This small population would grow, and by 1870, the black population of Atlanta comprised 46 percent of 21,700 residents, a proportion roughly maintained to the end of the 19th century.

The Civil War: The early history of African Americans in Atlanta was forever altered by the Civil War. Georgia banded together with other southern states to create the Confederate States of America, fearing that the election of Abraham Lincoln to the American Presidency in 1860 election would usher in a strong Federal government opposed to slavery. Overall, as Peter Kolchin wrote about African Americans in American Slavery 1619-1877, although "some stood loyally by their masters and mistresses through thick and thin," when Union troops approached, "the transformation of master-slave relations became unmistakable as slaves sensed their impending liberation." General William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the northwest in May 1864. Later that year he took control of the city of Atlanta and forced evacuation of the citizenry when his armies burned the city before leaving to continue their march to the sea.

Cheatham Hill: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Confederate artillery

Courtesy of National Park Service
Potter House, Atlanta, Ga., showing effects of Union bombardment
Courtesy of National Archives, NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-111-B-4752

Reconstruction in Atlanta: In the spring of 1865 the exhausted Confederacy collapsed and Union control was exerted over the entire South. The Atlanta City Council later that year vowed equal application of laws to whites and blacks, and a school for black children, the first in the city, opened in an old church building on Armstrong Street. In 1867, General John Pope, the U.S. General in charge of Atlanta, issued orders allowing African Americans to serve on juries. In 1868, the State legislature, in defiance of Georgia's Governor Bullock, expelled 28 newly elected African Americans from the legislature. The State Supreme Court reinstated the legislators the following year.

In 1869, the State legislature voted against ratifying the 15th Amendment, which guarantees that the right to vote will not be abridged based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Federal government returned Atlanta to military rule that December, stating that Georgia would not be readmitted to the Union until the 15th Amendment was passed. The same year a positive step for African Americans was taken when the Methodist Episcopal Church's Freedman Aid Society founded a coeducational school for African American legislators that would later become Clark College in Atlanta. In 1870, the legislature ratified the 15th Amendment and Georgia was readmitted to the Union while the Governor had to fight to keep African-American legislators seated. Dennis Hammond, a Radical Republican, was elected mayor of Atlanta and the first two African Americans, William Finch and George Graham, sat on the new City Council. The era of Reconstruction ended in 1877, when the bulk of the Federal troops were removed from the South and African Americans could no longer rely on their political protection. Still, African Americans found other ways to thrive, both economically and socially. One the best examples of such success was former slave Alonzo F. Herndon, founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, located in the Sweet Auburn Historic District. Through this enterprise, Herndon became Atlanta's first black millionaire.

W.E.B. DuBois
Courtesy of National Archives, NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-H-HNP-16

The 20th century also saw the advent of violence in Atlanta as roughly 10,000 white people attacked the city's African Americans on September 22, 1906. "The immediate cause of the terrible Atlanta riot of 1906 had been the newspaper drumfire of alleged assaults upon white women by black men," wrote David Levering Lewis in his Pulitzer prize winning biography, W.E.B. DuBois, Biography of a Race. The deeper reasons for these riots lay in the class conflicts among working white people who feared losing jobs to lesser paid black laborers, as well as a social fear of the rising black middle class. The death count of the Atlanta riots numbered over two dozen slain African Americans and five or six whites. Du Bois responded to the riots with his "Litany of Atlanta" which was published in the Independent on October 11, 1906. Part of his litany reads "A city lay in travail, God our Lord, and from her loins sprang twin Murder and Black Hate." Mayor James Woodward called an assembly of white and African American leaders of Atlanta on the Sunday after the attacks. Promises of police reform were made, as well as the idea for the creation of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation.

Atlanta segregated baseball team, c. 1900
Courtesy of Library of Congress

Before desegregation took place African Americans created their own opportunities in businesses, publications, and sports. Evidence of successful businesses was most profound in Sweet Auburn, now known as the Sweet Auburn Historic District, a one-mile corridor that served as the downtown of Atlanta's black community. Businesses flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, including restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs where Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington performed. In 1928, the Atlanta Daily World, the oldest African American daily newspaper still in circulation, began publication. From 1920 until the 1940s, the Atlanta Black Crackers, a baseball team in the Negro Southern League, and later on, in the Negro American League, entertained sports fans at Ponce De Leon Park (across from the Ford Factory). Behind all the successes, however, was the daily reality of segregation.

Segregation began as an attempt after the Civil War to disenfranchise African Americans in the South with laws called "Black Codes" and "Jim Crow" laws, which were designed to regulate and limit the opportunities of African Americans. When the legality of these codes was challenged in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson , recognized the legality of "separate but equal" laws regarding African Americans and whites. This decision set the precedent throughout the South that "separate" facilities for African Americans and whites were constitutional, provided they were "equal." The "separate but equal" doctrine soon extended to cover many areas of public life, such as restaurants, theaters, and public schools. It was not until 1954, in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, that these laws would be struck down.

Many saw the injustice of these "Jim Crow" laws, and in the 20th century, the Civil Rights movement gradually formed in response. Since participation in politics was largely closed to African Americans, Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall, beginning in the 1920s, decided to train a group of black lawyers who would challenge the laws. The churches in the community played an important role, providing a leadership role for black religious leaders, especially in the South. The church, in the days of slavery and in the segregated South that followed, became a social center for the black community, serving not only as a place of worship but also, according to Taylor Branch in his book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, "a bulletin board to a people who owned no organs of communication, a credit union to those without banks, and even a kind of people's court."

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mathew Ahmann in a crowd.], 08/28/1963

Courtesy of National Archives, NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-306-SSM-4C(51)15
When the Civil Rights movement gained momentum, African Americans responded. At the heart of the movement in Atlanta were the students of Atlanta University. Many were involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that was formed in 1960 when the first official meeting was held in Atlanta. One of their first demonstrations was a sit-in at the Rich's department store lunch counter in downtown Atlanta with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. participating. Born on Auburn Avenue in 1929, Dr. King followed his father's path by preaching at Ebenezer Baptist Church. With his exceptional oratory and motivational skills, the Morehouse graduate emerged as a natural leader in encouraging a nonviolent approach to social change. Largely because of these ideals, Atlanta's road to integration was more peaceful than that of other cities. Still, there were tensions within the black community when negotiations were concluded to end a three-month boycott of 70 downtown white-owned Atlanta stores, which ended in February of 1961. The provision which ended the boycott, signed by 10 of the city's elder black leaders, along with the local chamber of commerce, was written in vague guarantees largely obscure to demands for desegregation. Many of the younger generation denounced the agreement. Tensions escalated at a meeting between the older and younger African Americans at the Warren Methodist Church. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s father was challenged for his position favoring the ending of the boycott. Only the late arrival of his son united the two factions in following the agreement. It was also in Atlanta where King addressed the first major civil rights demonstration in the South since President Kennedy's assassination. On December 15, 1963, King declared segregation a "glaring reality" in Atlanta. Integrated restaurants were still picketed at this time in the city, with some visible opposition. Today the life of this civil rights leader is celebrated at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.

After the Civil Rights Act became law in 1965, a new generation of leaders rose who bridged the gap between the Civil Rights movement and the entrance to local and national politics. The political power of African Americans in Georgia rose and the election of civil rights veterans Andrew Young and John Lewis to Congress was a reflection of that gain. Beginning with Maynard Jackson in 1974, the mayors of Atlanta have all since been African Americans, including current mayor Shirley Franklin, who upon her election in 2001, became the first black female mayor of a major southern city. Reflecting on African Americans in Atlanta, Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Mae Gentry wrote, "Still, Atlanta is a place where African Americans feel comfortable, a place where they have a stake in events, a place they can call home." The story of Atlanta is still being told, and now more than ever, African Americans are an integral part of the tale.


Atlanta Ballet was founded over eight decades ago by dance visionary Dorothy Moses Alexander (1904-1986). Miss Dorothy had a dream of bringing quality ballet to the Atlanta community. The result was the Dorothy Alexander Dance Concert Group - the first step in the regional ballet movement that swept the nation. In 1946, the Company, now named Atlanta Civic Ballet, became the first dance company in the nation to help fund a symphony. The season’s annual proceeds were donated to the Atlanta Youth Symphony, which would later become Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

In 1958, Miss Dorothy invited Robert Barnett, a soloist with the acclaimed New York City Ballet and a protégé of George Balanchine, to join the Company as a principal dancer. In 1962, a year after her retirement, Barnett was named artistic director and introduced many Balanchine masterworks into the repertoire, including The Nutcracker. For more than 30 years, Mr. Barnett expanded Miss Dorothy’s dream of excellence.

John McFall became Atlanta Ballet’s third artistic director in 1994. Mr. McFall’s imagination and innovative vision brought contemporary modern dance premieres, numerous new full-length ballets, and several world premiere productions to Atlanta. His pioneering spirit inspired collaborations with Big Boi of OutKast, Indigo Girls, The Red Clay Ramblers, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Choir, and the Michael O’Neal Singers. Mr. McFall created an ensemble company of extraordinary professional dancers from every corner of the world, including Uruguay, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Brazil, Columbia, Australia, Canada, and the United States. He provided the world’s most innovative choreographers, including Christopher Hampson, Twyla Tharp, Helen Pickett, and Violette Verdy, with an artistic home while exposing Georgia audiences to exciting new works.

Upon John McFall’s retirement in 2016, Gennadi Nedvigin was named Atlanta Ballet’s fourth artistic director in the Company’s then 87-year history. Mr. Nedvigin joined Atlanta Ballet after an illustrious dance career that included his training at the famed Bolshoi Ballet Academy and nineteen seasons as a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet. As artistic director, he presents a varied repertory that reintroduces some of the finest classical and neoclassical works in existence, while also bringing in new works from the most sensational and sought-after choreographers in the world. He uses his vast experience to nurture the Company, helping the dancers achieve the highest level of artistry, and elevate the national and international profile of Atlanta Ballet.

Atlanta Ballet is the oldest ballet company in America, the largest self-supported arts organization in Georgia, and the official Ballet of Georgia. Atlanta Ballet’s eclectic repertoire spans the history of ballet, highlighted by the most beloved classics and the most inventive originals. Although a renowned leader in the promotion and education of dance, Atlanta Ballet’s roots have been firmly grounded in the community and playing a vital role in the city’s cultural growth and revitalization.

The Company has also served as an ambassador for Atlanta nationally and internationally, performing around the globe - from the stages of Taipei in Taiwan to the Presidential Palace and the Sejong Cultural Arts Center in Seoul, Korea. In 1996, the Company performed during the Olympic Arts Festival/Cultural Olympiad, and, in 1999, Atlanta Ballet debuted in London, performing John McFall’s enchanting Peter Pan as the centerpiece of Royal Festival Hall’s millennium celebration. In 2013, Atlanta Ballet embarked on a two-week tour to China, where it was one of only two American dance companies represented at the National Ballet of China’s inaugural “International Ballet Season.”

In 1996, John McFall established the Centre for Dance Education (CDE) and identified Sharon Story as dean. The CDE is dedicated to nurturing young dancers while providing an outlet for adults to express their creativity through different courses. It also offers classes for children as young as two, an acclaimed pre-professional division called the Academy, and a spectrum of dance classes ranging from ballet to tap. Students enrolled in the CDE’s programs enjoy opportunities to perform with the professional Company, and students receive first priority in casting for roles in The Nutcracker, as well as other productions. The Centre for Dance Education also prides itself on its renowned community programs. School programs have increased the spirit and grades of thousands of metro Atlanta schoolchildren. The CDE has been a tireless leader of dance education.

Through endeavors such as these, Atlanta Ballet continues Miss Dorothy’s vision. Atlanta Ballet's commitment to dance education and performance has inspired audiences everywhere through the empowering joy of dance.

By Ethan Davidson

A grassroots solution to transportation challenges, this pedestrian-bicycle-transit loop will encircle Georgia’s largest city. Could this be a model for other communities too?

These young people are walking their dog on the Northside Trail, shown here in April 2010. The trail is one of the completed sections of the new Atlanta BeltLine.

Atlanta, a city built around the intersection of railroad lines, is known today for its congested highways and sprawling developments. The Atlanta region consistently ranks in the top 10 for the worst traffic congestion and commute times in the Nation. Is it possible that a partial solution to these chronic transportation problems could come from a graduate student’s thesis about repurposing old rail corridors in Atlanta? The region will soon find out.

In 1999, Ryan Gravel wrote a graduate thesis, titled “Belt Line — Atlanta: Design of Infrastructure as a Reflection of Public Policy,” that proposed reclaiming a 22-mile (35-kilometer) ring of mostly abandoned and underused rail corridor and transforming it into a new public transit system combined with economic development and connectivity strategies. Gravel’s thesis sat on a shelf for a few years after graduation before it inspired a grassroots movement to build the most ambitious public works project in the city’s history: the Atlanta BeltLine.

The completed Atlanta BeltLine will encircle the city’s core with pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly shared-use paths that are replacing the rail lines and connecting to parks and transit. The transit cars will be able to accommodate bicycles, and the shared-use paths will help reduce highway congestion by decreasing the number of short-distance motor vehicle trips. The goal is a total of 33 miles (53 kilometers) of trails to be built out over the life of the project: 22 miles (35 kilometers) are envisioned to follow the transit alignment in the corridor, with an additional 11 miles (18 kilometers) of “spur” trails that veer off the corridor, creating greater connectivity for many abutting neighborhoods. To date, roughly 11 miles of the trail system are open, including permanent paved trails and temporary hiking trails.

By attracting some of the region’s future growth, the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, its promoters hope, will improve mobility and change the pattern of regional sprawl, while creating more vibrant, walkable, and livable communities.

According to Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Commissioner Vance Smith, Jr., “The Atlanta BeltLine is a significant project not just for the Atlanta area, but for all of Georgia as well. This innovative approach to improving transportation challenges could potentially be implemented in any community. Reclaiming existing infrastructure for new uses, transit, trails, and green space will benefit all citizens. From an economic and a transportation perspective, it is an investment that will make the region better for generations to come, and that is one reason why we have helped fund some of the early trail projects through Transportation Enhancement grants. We also have partnered with the city of Atlanta to use State-owned right-of-way for the future transit and trails. We know this project is being watched by communities across the country and encourage everyone to keep working together toward its success.”

Atlanta’s Mobility Challenges

The city’s uneven and low-density growth pattern is one reason for Atlanta’s mobility, housing, and economic development challenges. Other causes include a lack of affordable housing, deficiencies in transportation connectivity across all modes, and limited transit, bicycle, and pedestrian options.

“Individually, each of these issues contributes to reduced quality of life, mobility, and economic competitiveness,” says Brian Leary, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “Together, they constitute a severe impediment to creating sustainable growth and a vibrant livable community in the years to come. If the city is to address these problems proactively, a comprehensive and progressive solution is required to holistically integrate land use, economic development, social, and transportation needs.”

Major barriers, including interstates and active and abandoned railroad lines, fragment the city’s existing transportation network. These conditions are particularly acute along the proposed route of the Atlanta BeltLine where numerous large tracts of underutilized industrial land lacking an urban street network disrupt the continuity of the transportation network. Other issues along the route include several freeways and railroad-related facilities that have few existing crossings discontinuous local roadway, bicycle, and pedestrian networks and large blocks of retail development, such as strip malls, with little internal circulation.

This map of the Atlanta area shows the 22-mile (35-kilometer) loop that originally was railroad track and now will become the Atlanta BeltLine. For most of that loop, a trail will run adjacent to the loop, and another 11 miles (18 kilometers) of spur trails will connect neighborhoods to the loop. The transit vision is evolving but at present includes building streetcar segments that will connect to the loop. City officials hope to substantially complete the entire green corridor within the next 10 years.

The railroad right-of-way divides many adjacent neighborhoods physically and, in some cases, socially. Transit options are limited, and existing services are hard to access. As a result, Atlanta residents use their personal automobiles for the most common sort of travel within the city — short trips between communities, neighborhoods, and activity centers. They make many of these trips on the interstates and arterial roads, reducing capacity for regional and national through traffic. The overall impact for the city and region are reduced global competitiveness and local quality of life.

Turning an Idea into a Plan

Gravel’s fascination with improving Atlanta’s infrastructure was inspired by a senior year spent in Paris as part of Georgia Tech’s architecture program. “When I lived in Paris and ate fresh food at the local market and walked and rode transit to everywhere I needed to go, it was an unbelievable experience,” says Gravel. “When I moved back to Atlanta, where I grew up, my daily experience moving about the city was sitting in a car in traffic. While there are lots of great things about Atlanta, that isn’t one of them. I wanted to live here, and I was interested in finding ways to make Atlanta the kind of place [where] you would want to live your whole life.”

Gravel saw Atlanta’s physical problem as rooted in the separation of land uses, residential from commercial, higher income residents from lower income residents, and an increasing dependence on the automobile to accomplish the most simple of daily tasks. Adding to this problem is that a city expanding into undeveloped areas is faced with the costs of providing infrastructure such as water lines and sewers over greater distances. Emergency vehicles, schoolbuses, and transit must travel greater distances to reach people, and public health declines due to more sedentary lifestyles, degraded air and water quality, and traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

Gravel began grappling with the question: “What kind of city do we want to be?” He thought the city should be asking itself this question before adopting policies about how to grow and the kinds of infrastructure to invest in. “It seemed like we were basing today’s decisions on yesterday’s answers,” he adds.

After graduation, while working for an Atlanta architecture firm designing a mixed-use loft development, Gravel and his colleagues were trying to decide where to locate its parking garage. Should they place the parking along the abandoned rail corridor, or should they have the development face the corridor, which might develop into something else in the future? At that point, Gravel and his coworkers thought the BeltLine idea was worth sharing with government and business leaders. They put together packages with letters, Gravel’s thesis, and maps and sent them to the region’s elected officials and transportation agencies.

Former Atlanta City Council member, and later City Council president, Cathy Woolard, who chaired the council’s transportation committee, was increasingly frustrated with the region’s transit infrastructure. Upon receiving Gravel’s thesis, she immediately thought the idea had merit and was worth exploring with the community. She and Gravel began meeting with neighborhood groups in her district, and, after her successful election as president of the council, they expanded the conversation across the entire city.

These railroad tracks are shown in November 2009 before construction of the Eastside Trail in the BeltLine’s northeast corridor.

Shovels ready, Atlanta officials and stakeholders are posing at the groundbreaking of the Eastside Trail in October 2010.

They discovered that neighborhoods in the northern and eastern areas, which were already experiencing significant new development, saw the BeltLine as an opportunity to preserve their quality of life in the face of the new growth and traffic. On the southern and western parts of Atlanta, which had experienced economic disinvestment over several decades and had large transit-dependent populations, the BeltLine was an opportunity to attract growth that would bring jobs, improve transit options, and attract neighborhood amenities that were lacking, such as grocery stores.

As Gravel and Woolard were building grassroots support, other key individuals and institutions set in motion a series of events that would propel the project forward. In 1992, the PATH Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to building trails for the purposes of recreation and transportation in the State of Georgia, developed a comprehensive master plan for a trail system in Atlanta. The PATH Foundation is one of the Atlanta BeltLine project’s key partners, building out its trail system.

Although still under construction, the Eastside Trail section of the Atlanta BeltLine is already attracting hikers and people walking their dogs, suggesting that the Atlanta BeltLine will be very popular indeed, once completed.

Ed McBrayer, executive director of the PATH Foundation, recalls that back in the 1990s, the Atlanta region was out of compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air regulations: “When we decided that we wanted to try and retrofit Atlanta with a trail system, we were responding to a need to clean up the city’s dirty air. Our primary focus was to build trails that would promote nonmotorized commuters. When the Olympics were awarded to Atlanta, our mission was expanded to include connecting the primary Olympic venues to encourage visitors to walk and bike during their visit. After the Olympics, all of the trails we built were used for both commuting and recreation.

“Most of the BeltLine route was part of the original trail master plan we developed back in 1992. We envisioned what is now the Atlanta BeltLine as a circumferential trail that would tie the city’s trail system together. It is very rewarding for us to still be involved and to see our original thoughts put into the ground.”

Another key partner that has helped turn the Atlanta BeltLine into a reality is The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit that secures land to preserve it as public green space. In 2004, TPL commissioned renowned urban designer Alexander Garvin to study the BeltLine concept as an opportunity to expand parks and green space in Atlanta. Garvin produced a report, The BeltLine Emerald Necklace: Atlanta’s New Public Realm, that called for the addition of thousands of acres of green space along the BeltLine’s route. Garvin says, “The idea of introducing parks into the BeltLine concept was a way to further build support for the project because it brought together several constituencies. I think of planning as having a political and financial dimension, not just design.”

With the momentum generated by the activism of Gravel and Woolard, the research of Garvin, and the support of the PATH Foundation, a broad coalition of supporters from environmentalists to community groups was galvanized to influence the city to implement the project. Building on Atlanta’s history of collaboration between the public and private sectors, the business community embraced the project. In recent decades, the city has attracted a number of corporate headquarters relocations. To maintain this momentum, the business community recognized that Atlanta must attract and retain talent in an increasingly dense urban core served by new mobility options with a quality of life enhanced by new green space. Atlanta’s corporate leadership has been crucial in raising private sector capital to leverage public sector investment.

In 2005, then Mayor Shirley Franklin turned to the business community to create the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, which began raising private funds to support the BeltLine concept. She also tasked The Atlanta Development Authority, the city’s economic development agency, with developing the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan, a 25-year financial plan that the city council approved in 2005. Around the same time, the council approved the project’s main source of funding, a 6,500-acre (2,633-hectare) tax increment financing district, which is expected to generate $1.7 billion for the project over 25 years.

In 2006, the development authority created a new entity, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., to plan and execute the implementation in partnership with other public and private organizations, including city departments.

Progress to Date

Now in its fifth year of implementation, the BeltLine is well underway. Land acquisition and construction have begun, and four new parks and nearly 11 miles (18 kilometers) of shared-use paths have opened to the public. The environmental impact statement for transit and trails is complete, and nearly half of the 22-mile (35-kilometer) right-of-way is now set aside for the project. In addition, the corridor design process is well underway, and a transit implementation strategy is complete.

This artist’s rendering shows a section of the Atlanta BeltLine corridor that will include transit, trails, green space, and abutting development.

Since 2005, more than 50 new developments have been completed or are under construction within the tax increment financing dis–trict, with a value of more than $1 billion. These new developments have created more than 700,000 square feet (65,100 square meters) of new commercial space and more than 9,000 residential units.

Equally as important as the implementation is the planning activity. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development divided the Atlanta BeltLine planning area, roughly 16,000 acres (6,480 hectares) within a half-mile of the rail corridor, into 10 subareas for the purposes of master planning for land use, transportation improvements, and green space. As of May 2011, the Atlanta City Council had adopted seven of these subarea master plans with the remaining three ready for adoption.

The master plans call for future land uses and street networks that will support transit denser, more compact urban development that promotes walking and bicycling and green spaces large and small along the corridor. The master plans support a framework for urban growth that will be more sustainable for the city and the region and will be served by the planned improvements in infrastructure the Atlanta BeltLine will bring.

Shown here is D.H. Stanton Park with the rail corridor in the foreground where the Atlanta BeltLine’s transit and trail will run.

So far, the Atlanta Regional Commission and GDOT have provided nearly $21 million of Federal Highway Administration funds to the project: $18 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program funds and approximately $2.8 million programmed through Transportation Enhancement grants.

Continuing Community Involvement

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and its partners have maintained the project’s grassroots spirit and engaged the community to an unprecedented degree for Atlanta. Community engagement is a cornerstone of the project, as first documented in the community engagement framework — a new structure adopted by the city council in 2006 with various channels for the community to become involved. The structure includes study groups for the five geographic regions of the Atlanta BeltLine with two subareas in each study group, dedicated staff, and two citizen advisory boards.

In addition, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., has used social and digital media extensively, as well as traditional public and media relations, engaging tens of thousands of passionate, grassroots advocates. The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership has helped maintain and grow enthusiasm in the community through programs that include free tours an Atlanta BeltLine Ambassadors program, which promotes the project and shares opportunities for residents to play a role and a cadre of more than 1,000 volunteers to help spread awareness in the community. Working together, the community engagement framework and the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., have helped deepen the community’s awareness and support for the project.

Current Mayor Kasim Reed has made implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine one of his administration’s top priorities. Under his leadership, the city submitted a successful ap-plication to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for the beginning of a network of streetcars to connect key points along and within the Atlanta BeltLine. In October 2010, USDOT awarded Atlanta $47 million for the first new segment of its streetcar system in downtown Atlanta, which will soon include the Atlanta BeltLine.

“I am proud of the work we have accomplished to date,” says Mayor Reed, “and I am eager to keep accelerating the transformative elements of this project, which will create a more economically competitive, environmentally sustainable, and increasingly connected city and region.”

Share All sharing options for: A Complete History of Atlanta Falcons Coaches

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Look, the coaching search is tiring for all of us. Every Falcons fans wants a good coach as quickly as possible, so we can all move into free agency and the draft, which we can argue more vociferously about. Good times.

Because we're not sure when the Falcons will actually hire their next head coach, I thought we could turn our focus to the future and past for now. On the past front, I thought it would be especially entertaining to see the history of Atlanta Falcons coaches, a nauseous journey through a rogue's gallery of bumblers, unlucky men and the occasional, always-extinguished bright new hope. If this doesn't make you appreciate how important a good coach is, nothing will.

Norb Hecker, 1966-1968

True story: Rankin Smith made a play for Vince Lombardi, who (intelligently) decided to stay with the Green Bay Packers. Smith then consulted Lombardi regarding Norb Hecker, an assistant on Lombardi's staff who was considered a riser. Lombardi did not recommend Hecker, Rankin Smith thought Lombardi was, to quote Wikipedia, "trying to pull one over on him," and thus Hecker was hired.

The expansion Falcons were a mess, talent-wise, but Hecker was also in way, way over his head. His coaching tenure with the Falcons ended after three games in the 1968 season, at which point his record stood at a sterling 4-26-1. That record undoubtedly impressed the New York Giants, who then hired him as their defensive coordinator.

It's hard to say if Hecker was the worst coach in Falcons history, given the talent available to him, but he was the first in a long, proud tradition of losers.

Norm Van Brocklin, 1968-1974

Everything you need to know about this man is perfectly encapsulated by Jason Kirk, who wrote one of my all-time favorite articles for The Falcoholic back in 2010. Here's a couple of excerpts:


You really can't top that, and "stack furniture" has become my favorite expression ever since. Van Brocklin went 37-49-3 and piloted the Falcons to their first winning season, even getting the Falcons to 9-5. His enduring legacy will be his batcrap crazy press conferences, the loathing his own players had for him and the aforementioned decent record, especially compared to some of the coaches who would come after him.

Marion Campbell, 1974-1976

The mere mention of this name will send shivers up the spines of longtime Falcons fans. The Swamp Fox was a University of Georgia standout and fourth round pick, a two-time Pro Bowlers and one of the last two-way players in NFL history. His time as a player is pretty much unimpeachable. His team as a coach is eminently peachable.

Campbell has the third lowest winning percentage in NFL history for a coach who was around for three or more seasons, and it all began in Atlanta, where he went 7-25 over two and He was the first coach in Steve Bartkowski's career, which really set the tone for some of the things Bart would have to suffer through in Atlanta. Finally, Rankin Smith and the team came to their senses and booted him off the team in favor of interim Pat Peppler, who went 3-6 before his tenure mercifully ended. That would, of course, not prove to be the end of Marion Campbell in Atlanta.

Leeman Bennett, 1977-1982

Bennett would prove to be the team's most successful coach yet, and honestly, he's easily one of the best coaches on this list. His 1977 defense is the legendary Grits Blitz, the unit that allowed the fewest points in NFL history. His 1980 team went 12-4 and lost a close one in heartbreaking fashion to the Dallas Cowboys. He finished with a respectable 46-41 record as the team's head coach, and was dismissed after losing in the playoffs in the odd, strike-shortened 1982 season.

He couldn't lift the Falcons out of mediocrity—and yes, this is nearly 20 years into the team's existence—but for brief, bright moments, the Falcons were better than they ever had been before. Bennett's a guy fans generally remember quite fondly, even if that 1980 season will forever stick in the collective craws of Falcons fans everywhere.

Dan Henning, 1983-1986

Henning was the first Falcons coach of my lifetime, though I was mercifully too young to know who the hell he was. He was in many ways the prototype of an effective coordinator who couldn't hack it as a head coach, as he bombed with the Falcons but served as an OC in the NFL right up until 2010, helping to bring the short-lived Wild Cat craze back in the late 2000's. An illustrious career, in other words, outside of Atlanta.

For the Falcons, Henning went 22-41-1, never managing a winning season in four tries. When you consider he had a terrific offensive line, Gerald Riggs and Steve Bartkowski through at least a couple of those years, that's a little astonishing. Henning, inevitably, would give way to another head coach.

Marion Campbell Redux, 1987-1989

This is easily the most amusing/terribly sad footnote in Falcons coaching history. That's the same Marion Campbell who went 7-25 more than a decade before.

The Falcons chased some very good candidates at this time, but were repeatedly rebuffed. The addled Smith family's solution was to turn back to Marion f***ing Campbell, a man who had proven his ineptitude to the exact same owner before. It was the kind of move that makes you despair whether there is any meaning to or justice in the world. Hint: There isn't.

Campbell went 11-32 before giving way to Jim Hanifan, who capped off the 1989 season by going 0-4. Marion Campbell second round of failure was so crushing that it may have led Rankin Smith to turn over control of the franchise to his son, Taylor Smith, in the following year.

Jerry Glanville, 1990-1993

On paper, this hiring was both smart and nostalgic. Glanville was the defensive coordinator in Atlanta during that Grits Blitz year back in 1977, and he was a respected coach around the NFL. It looked downright brilliant in 1991, when the Falcons went 10-6, crushed the Saints in the Wild Card Round and then lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Redskins in the Divisional Round.

Alas, that success was fleeting. Glanville followed it up with two losing seasons, going 27-37 overall over his four years. It really wasn't the on-field product that Glanville was known for, though.

No, he was known as the guy who clashed with Brett Favre and engineered his ticket out of town. He was known for a Run n' Shoot variant he called the "Red Gun," being the guy who helped introduce the (still awesome) black uniforms to Atlanta and leaving will-call tickets for Elvis Presley before every game. Ultimately, a mixed bag of a tenure for the franchise.

Marion Campbell, 1994-1995

June Jones, 1994-1996

June Jones was the guy who made the Run n' Shoot a big deal. Under that system, Jeff George blossomed into one of the league's best volume passers for two seasons, and the Falcons went to the playoffs in 1995 with him at the helm. Unfortunately, the very next year Jones was at the helm when the Falcons went 3-13, and he was promptly fired.

If nothing else, Jones presided over passing offenses that were a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The next hire would depart from the attacks Glanville and Jones favored, though.

He finished with a 19-29 record and yelled at Jeff George a lot, something that led to both guys heading out of town after 1996.

Dan Reeves, 1997-2003

If your metric is Super Bowl appearances, Dan Reeves is the best coach in franchise history. He belongs in the conversation, either way.

Reeves was already a well-regarded coach when he took the Falcons job in 1997, but it was the 1998 season that made him a permanent legend in Atlanta. He guided that team to a 14-2 finish, piloted them through the playoffs and past the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, the single most thrilling game of my life, and brought the franchise to its first Super Bowl 30-plus years after its inception. The Falcons fell short against the Broncos and never got this close again, thanks to injuries and missteps along the way.

He was the man who presided over Michael Vick's first couple of seasons, and the team enjoyed a playoff berth and Wild Card win in 2002 with the electric young quarterback. He asked to be let go after the 2003 season, when the team won just 3 of their first 13 games, and gave way to Wade Phillips, who won two of the last three games.

Reeves' 49-59-1 record isn't all that impressive, but compared to his peers up to this point, he was a damn wizard. That Super Bowl berth means I'll always be fond of Dan Reeves.

Jim E. Mora, 2004-2006

Arthur Blank bought the Falcons in 2002, and while he retained Dan Reeves immediately, he and the team were shopping for a new coach shortly thereafter. Enter Jim Mora.

More was a decent-to-good coach for the Falcons, and during his three seasons, the team was never further than two games below .500. His 2004 team went 11-5 and lost in the Conference Championship Game to the Eagles after a frankly brilliant playoff run by Vick, the ground game and the defense. Comments on a radio show indicating he'd be in favor of taking the Washington Huskies job, plus middling returns in the 2006, led many to call for his firing (including the nascent Falcoholic). Blank obliged, but it's clear from Mora's 26-22 record that he probably deserved a longer leash. Especially given what followed.

Bobby Petrino, 2007

Losing scumbag who would go on to continue to be a scumbag and be handsomely rewarded for doing so, Please see note about justice in the world under Marion Campbell Redux.

Petrino sucked. That's that.

Mike Smith , 2008-2014

If your standards for best Falcons coach are not based on a Super Bowl berth, then Mike Smith is your guy. That's more or less indisputable.

Smith was a steady hand at the wheel for the Falcons, who looked like they'd need to start over after Petrino left. With Matt Ryan finding immediate success, Michael Turner's dominance and an opportunistic defense, the Falcons were in the playoffs in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012, making it as far as the Conference Championship Game in 2012. They also posted back-to-back-to-back-to-back-back winning seasons for the first time in team history, after never posting even back-to-back winning seasons in 40 years before that.

Sadly, Smith and the team regressed mightily in 2013 and 2014, going 4-12 and then 6-10 and leading into Smith's firing on Black Monday just a couple of weeks ago. He finished with a 67-48 regular season record and 1-4 playoff record, and while we wait to see if the next coach can take the Falcons to new heights, he belongs in the conversation with Reeves and Bennett as the best in franchise history.