ATLANTA is a relatively young city: only incorporated in 1847, it was little more than a minor transportation center until the Civil War, when its accessibility made it a good site for the huge Confederacy munitions industry and consequently a major target for the Union army. In 1864 Sherman's army burned the city, an act immortalized in Gone with the Wind. Recovery after the war took just a few years: Atlanta was the archetype of the aggressive, urban, industrial "New South," furiously championed by "boosters" newspaper owners, bankers, politicians and city leaders. Industrial giants who based themselves here included Coca-Cola, source of a string of philanthropic gifts to the city. Heavy black immigration to Atlanta increased its already considerable black population and led to the establishment of a thriving community centered around Auburn Avenue.Very few of Atlanta's buildings predate 1915, and nothing at all survives from before 1868. Its characters, on the other hand politicians and newspaper people have changed little, and the "booster" tradition has continued to the present, peaking spectacularly when Atlanta won the right to host the 1996 Olympics. The bid to convince the world of the city's prosperity and sophistication was led by city leaders such as ex-mayor Andrew Young (the first Southern black congressman since Reconstruction, who became Carter's ambassador to the UN) and flamboyant former CNN magnate Ted Turner.

Today's Atlanta is at first glance a typical large American city. Its population has reached 3.5 million, and urban sprawl is such a problem that each citizen is obliged to travel an average of 34 miles per day by car the highest figure in the country. Cut off from each other by roaring freeways, bright lights and an enclave mentality, its neighborhoods tend to have distinct racial identities broadly speaking, "white flight" was to the northern suburbs, while the southern districts are predominantly black. That said, the city is undeniably progressive, with little interest in lamenting a lost Southern past.
Since voting in the nation's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, in 1974, it has remained the most conspicuously black-run city in the US, and an estimated 200,000 black fami lies streamed in from states further north in the 1980s alone.
The Olympics may not have been the triumph Atlanta so eagerly anticipated even before the Centennial Park bombing tarnished the event itself, years of disruption and grandiose construction projects had left many Atlantans wondering whether the city had lost more than it gained but with its ever-increasing international profile, cosmopolitan blend of cultures and hip local neighborhoods, the spirit and dynamism of modern Atlanta is a far cry indeed from its much-mythologized Deep South roots.

Tings to do:

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
A few blocks to the east of downtown, the Sweet Auburn neighborhood is home to the birthplace of America's most influential Civil Rights leader. Operated by the National Park Service, this historic site contains Dr. King's boyhood home, his crypt and the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Tours are conducted daily on the hour beginning at 10am. During the summer, tours are on the half-hour, starting at 9:30am. Since the historic site covers several city blocks, visitors are advised to stop at the Visitor Center upon arrival for a map and touring advice.

World of Coca Cola
Atlanta's most famous invention is also the world's most popular soft drink, and nowhere is this more clear than at this unique downtown museum. As centerpiece of Underground Atlanta, the museum draws many visitors, and features an exhaustive look at the history, manufacture, and distribution of Coca-Cola. Perhaps the most popular phase of the tour is the final stop, where guests are invited to sample vast and various recipes of Coke as it is marketed throughout the world.

Margaret Mitchell House & Museum
This modest turn-of-the-century home is an architectural find in itself, but most notable because it houses the apartment where Margaret Mitchell penned most of the world's most popular novel, "Gone with the Wind." Having survived arson and many seasons of decay, the house has been completely restored. Guided tours feature a wealth of historical and anecdotal information on Mitchell, the house and Atlanta in general. A museum shop is also on site.


Though best known for its steaks and chops, this upscale restaurant, opened in 1989, also delivers prime seafood, from seared yellow fin tuna to cracked pepper and almond-crusted swordfish. Located in the lower level of one of Buckhead's few high-rises, the art deco dining room features redwood walls and alabaster chandeliers. The adjoining Lobster Bar serves two- to five-pound shelled monsters, but is closed for lunch. Take care when ordering side items, as the servings provide plenty to share. A full-service bar provides over 400 wine selections. Business attire required.

Located on the Chattahoochee River, Canoe's beautiful historic setting makes it the perfect spot for weddings, receptions or corporate celebrations. Dark wood and white tablecloths are featured in the dining room, which offers spectacular views of the river and the riverside gardens. Seafood selections highlight the contemporary American menu, and Southern specialties are offered on both the dinner and dessert menus. Selected as one of the country's best new restaurants by the James Beard Foundation, Canoe offers a romantic culinary treat for any occasion.

Caf tu tu tango
Set in a Spanish artist's loft, this vibrant Buckhead bistro fulfils your hunger for art and your hunger for dinner. The menu is mostly tantalizing finger foods, from unusual kabobs to more exotic tastes like Rosemary Lamb, Coconut Curry Tuna, and Bayou Creole Pizza. While you eat, enjoy the pervasive jazz, as well as the work of some of Atlanta's promising artists, on display and for sale. A wonderful date place, and a terrific spot to try a new exotic cocktail, like their signature Barcelona

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