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Atlanta began taking substantive shape in 1837 when the Western & Atlantic Railroad selected the site as the Southern end of its tracks. The town was first called Terminus until 1843 when it was renamed Marthasville after the daughter of Governor Wilson Lumpkin. In 1847, the city was renamed Atlanta, supposedly a feminine form of “Atlantic” to prove the city was a crucial transportation center in the Civil War. By the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Atlanta was a major railroad hub, manufacturing center, and supply depot. In 1864, in order to cripple transportation between the South and the North, Union General William T. Sherman’s army burned all of the railroad facilities, almost every business and more than two-thirds of the city’s homes to the ground during his infamous “March to the Sea”. Atlanta lay in ruins, the only major American City ever destroyed by war.
Atlanta is the vanguard of the New South with the charm and elegance of the Old. It is the city that balances southern traditions with sleek modernism. In Atlanta the peach trees are plentiful and the tea is sweet, yet this city boasts three skylines and the world’s busiest airport. Atlanta has been burnt to the ground and rose from the ashes, it has seen the horrors of war and felt the pain of droughts and floods. Atlanta knows rebirth and endurance, perhaps better than any other city. Atlanta was host to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, gave birth to the greatest figure, Martin Luther King, of the civil rights movement, is the beloved capitol of the state of Georgia, and has become the enduring leader of the American South. Tourists come to Atlanta for its vibrant arts, dining and nightlife scenes, but must-see tourist attractions include the various sites associated with Dr. King to the cultural institutions like the High Museum of Art and Atlanta History Center.