Atlanta is both the largest-populated city and the state capital of Georgia, and the largest metropolitan area in the Deep Southnote , best known for being the current center of the Hip-Hop world. The Coca-Cola Company (Pepsi is North Carolina blasphemy)note , Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A, and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) have headquarters here. Turner Broadcasting (which owns CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS and TNT) is also based there (having grown out of an independent TV station on channel 17). Atlanta can roughly be divided to areas within and outside Interstate 285, a beltway highway that is known for insane traffic and referred to by locals as "The Perimeter". Atlanta also has the busiest airport in the world and if you have flown in or through the US more than a couple of times, you will have had a layover there at least once.
Atlanta has at least seventeen streets named with variations on Peachtreenote . The city hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, in which East African marathon runners collapsed with heatstroke.note The city infamously listed Olive Garden as the best Italian restaurant in the city in the guidebooks for said Olympic Games. Right by Centennial Park is the Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest indoor one. Due to its location in the South, Atlanta rarely receives snow and is famous for (from an outsider's perspective) overreacting to even hints of incoming snow; two inchesnote of snow in January 2014 led to the whole city shutting down for nearly a week, epic traffic jams resulting in many people stuck in traffic for 24 hours, and several deaths.note
Hometown of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and was nicknamed "the city too busy to hate." It also prides itself on being the epitome of the "New South," with modern architecture and industry. Atlanta can be used as a "But Not Too Southern" setting, a good choice for artists who want a story in the South without using the tropes of the Deep South or Sweet Home Alabama.
It was originally founded in 1837 as the end-point of a railroad line to Chattanooga, for passengers and freight to be transferred from that rail line to a train to Savannah. This intended function was reflected in the city's original name: Terminus, a name with which an early-to-mid 1990s street-traffic-control software system (home-grown by Georgia Tech's computer-science department) was christened as an abbeviation for Traffic Event Response & Management for Intelligent Navigation Using Signals, which at the time was considered state-of-the-art, that adjusted traffic-light timing on-the-fly to adapt to fluctuations in traffic congestion on Atlanta's streets, developed explicitly as part of preparations for hosting the 1994 Super Bowl and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. It worked better than expected.note
The city's official crest portrays a phoenix, in reference to being the only city in the United States to have been completely destroyed by war, and referencing the manner in which it was destroyed: burned during General Sherman's "March to the Sea" (safety advice: do not say anything even remotely nice about Sherman, lest you incur the locals' wrath). The phoenix also neatly symbolizes the city's return to prominence after the war.
The reason that Sherman's wrath descended on Atlanta is that, during the war, the city was the South's most strategic railway junction. Three rail lines (basically tracing the same lines as today's Interstate highways running through the city, see below) made it possible to move troops and supplies to pretty much anywhere in the Confederacy east of the Mississippi that was reachable by railway. In one particularly striking instance of Atlanta's importance, General James Longstreet's entire corps was routed through Atlanta in September 1863 as an emergency reinforcement to the Confederate Army of Tennessee, playing a key role in the South's victory at Chickamauga (at the northern end of Georgia, a few miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee). Recognizing the strategic importance of Atlanta to the Confederate war effort, Sherman made it the primary target of his spring-summer 1864 campaign. The Confederates were just as aware of how important Atlanta was, and fought fiercely all the way down from the Tennessee border to the city itself, finally being forced to evacuate Atlanta after a string of bloody battles around the city and a siege lasting two months. The Battle of Atlanta (actually fought near Decatur to the east of the city), on July 22, 1864, one of the biggest engagements of the campaign, is commemorated in the Atlanta Cyclorama, which was at one time the world's largest painting.
Rappers call it the ATL, after the airport code for the busiest airport in the world. Said airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, is city owned, and the city is not allowed to make any profit off its operation. In addition to being the busiest airport, Delta's hub is the largest single airline operation of any airport in the world.note ATL also is a major focus city for Southwest, inherited from their recent merger with AirTran who maintained their principal hub there. It seems like a joke when discussion about the city inevitably leads to the airport, but the scope of the operation there is really unlike anything else. This is especially due to the disproportionate amount of connecting traffic it handles (i.e. passengers just passing through who aren't actually originating or arriving there). Other cities with similar megahubs such as Chicago-O'Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth have much larger amounts of local passengers. An old joke in the South says that when you die, it doesn't matter whether your soul is destined for Heaven or Hell, no matter where you're assigned for the afterlife, the connecting flight will inevitably have a two-hour layover in Atlanta. This joke is also considered common knowledge among airline pilots and flight-attendants in the 'States, and anyone who has worked in a travel-agency, or members of travel-agents' families are also likely to be somewhat familiar with the joke. Seriously, if you tell this joke to any flight-attendant working in the United States, they're almost guaranteed to laugh, or at least chuckle and give a little nod. Atlanta has always been a key transportation hub; as explained above, it was one of the most strategic locations in the South during the American Civil War because of the railway lines that met there. Today, three Interstate Highways, numbers I-20 (running west-east), I-75 (northwest-southeast) and I-85 (northeast-southwest), meet each other at Atlanta, connecting the heartland of the Southeast with the Midwest and the East Coast and Northeast, and making the city one of the most important hubs in the Interstate network (which also helps explain why traffic on the Perimeter is so awful).
When Delta faced economic troubles starting with the 2002 recession and ending with its 2008 exit from bankruptcy, the state government looked for ways to diversify the economy. note They decided on trying to boost film production and signed the first incentives program in 2002 as an experiment before substantially beefing it up due to its success in 2008. Georgia passed California as the top state for film and television in 2016 and in 2018 was second in feature film productions behind Canada. The state, in particular, is a favorite filming location of the world's current most popular film franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the films since the 2014 production of Ant-Man have been filmed at Pinewood Studios in the Atlanta area. Also filmed around Atlanta is the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things, which was actually rewritten to be set in Indiana rather than Montauk, New York because suburban Atlanta looks more like the Midwest than Long Island, but the setting had to be Northern for a variety of reasons (ranging from casting to the desire to avoid the South's built-in horror tropes).
Many old-fashioned Southerners detest Atlanta. The city is an upstart by Southern metropolis standards, founded in 1837 and incorporated ten years later. Its perceived cultural blandness, liberal politics note , incessant self-promotion, and seemingly undeserved prosperity grate on Southern sensibilities. This actually has a fitting analogy: Georgia is the so-called "Empire State of the South"... and Atlanta bears the same relation to the rest of Georgia that New York City bears to the rest of the Empire State. In fact, one common joke is that Georgia is two states: metro Atlanta and everywhere else.
Atlanta is home to several major professional sports teams; however, the poor performances of its pro sports teams, with only two championships among its major teams in over a half-century, as well as the transient nature of the metro area's residents has given the city a reputation as a bad sports town:
- The Braves are a Major League Baseball team that started in Boston, moved to Milwaukee, and finally ended up in Atlanta in 1966. They've won exactly one World Series in each city (1914, 1957, and 1995). Its players have included Hank Aaron who was the Home Run Champion to top Babe Ruth, and it was formerly owned by Ted Turner, and as such had most of their games broadcast on cable station TBS from 1973 to 2007. They did very well and were popular enough in the 1990s to be nicknamed "America's Team"note , but entered a slump in the 2000s. Even during their long streak of Division pennants, they were the poster-child for Every Year They Fizzle Out, netting one World Series win in 14 playoff appearances. In 2010, longtime coach Bobby Cox, known for being A Father to His Men (and being one of the most ejected coaches in the MLB) retired. In 2017, the Braves opened a new ballpark in suburban Cobb County, Truist Park.
- The Falcons are an NFL team, historically mediocre with occasional strong seasons, and appearances in Super Bowls XXXIII and LI. It was the team quarterback Michael Vick played for when he was exposed for running dog fights. From 2008 to 2012, the Falcons were one of the NFL's more solid teams despite a lack of postseason success. Super Bowl LI will be a game that lives in infamy for the Falcons after the Patriots erased a 25 point deficit in the fourth quarter to put the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time in its history, with the Patriots scoring the winning touchdown on their first (and the only) overtime possession.
- The Hawks are an NBA team that have a logo that looks suspiciously like Pac-Man. Another middle-of-the-pack team, also owned by Ted Turner for a few years. Their most notable player in recent history was Dominique Wilkins, nine time All-Star, two time Slam Dunk champion, and often cast as one of Michael Jordan's Worthy Opponents.
- The Dream are a WNBA team founded in 2008; in their first season, they made a heroic effort to be the worst team in the history of ever, finishing 4-30. They got better. The teams co-owner, businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, formerly served in the U.S. Senatenote . The Dream shared a home with the Hawks for most of their existence; however, the WNBA team moved to a smaller arena in suburban College Park, sharing the venue with the Hawks' G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks.
- Atlanta had two different NHL teams, both of which ultimately left for Canada. The Flamesnote , founded in 1972, enjoyed modest success on the ice but had a bad reputation of Every Year They Fizzle Out come the Stanley Cup playoffs. After the novelty of ice hockey in the South wore off, the Flames couldn't consistently fill the Omni, nor could they find stable ownership in town, so the team was sold to Nelson Skalbania and moved to Calgary in 1980, keeping the Flames name. The Thrashersnote , a 1999 expansion team, struggled both on and off the ice, especially after the infamous 2004-05 lockout; they were not helped by apathetic owners who cared more about the Hawks than they did the Thrashers. Again with no willing suitors to keep the team in town, the Thrashers were sold to True North Sports and Entertainment in 2011, relocated to Winnipeg and renamed the Jets. Despite the Thrashers' relocation not getting much attention in the mainstream sports press as other recent relocations have (e.g., the Montreal Expos moving to Washington, DC in 2005, the Seattle Supersonics moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, the Rams' and Chargers' respective returns to Los Angeles in 2016 and 2017, and the Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas in 2020), it remains a controversial topic among Atlanta hockey fans.note The Atlanta metro area still has a hockey team in the minor league ECHL, the Atlanta Gladiators, based in suburban Duluth; ironically, the Gladiators outlasted both the Flames and the Thrashers.
- Atlanta United FC is probably the exception to the rule. They began play in Major League Soccer in 2017. The team is owned by Falcons owner Arthur Blank and shares the new Falcons' stadium. They won the MLS Cup playoffs in their sophomore season, broke attendance records several times over, and are now the most valuable soccer team in the United States.
- Henry County to the south of the city is the home of Atlanta Motor Speedway, a legacy NASCAR track.
Those with more geeky inclinations can easily find a place in Atlanta. The Georgia Institute of Technology (aka Georgia Tech), one of the largest and most prestigious polytechnic universities in the country, is located right in Midtown. Downtown is overtaken every Labor Day weekend by the massive celebration of all things geek known as Dragon Con. MomoCon is a smaller but fast-growing multi-genre con which takes place around the Memorial Day weekend; while there is overlap between Dragon Con and MomoCon, the former focuses more on sci-fi and fantasy while the latter is more anime-focused.note . And the weirdness central that is [adult swim] (and the anime/action animation central that is Toonami) originates from an old Turner Broadcasting facility on Williams Street note .
Atlanta in fiction:
- Atlanta, entirely shot there
- Atlanta Nights
- Baby Driver
- The Change-Up starring Ryan Reynolds.
- The 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has Violet Beauregarde from Atlanta. Given Violets character being updated to be a cocky sports prodigy rather than merely a gum enthusiast, its possible they chose Atlanta in reference to the 1996 Olympics. Ironically, AnnaSophia Robb is originally from Denver, which serves as the hometown of Mike Teavee. Meanwhile, the childrens play adaptation Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka has Violet come from Snellville, a suburb in Gwinnett County.
- Class of 3000
- Constantine: Constantine's hideout in the TV series is set in an old millhouse in the rural outskirts of Metro Atlanta.
- Most the main characters in Deliverance are Atlanta yuppies, and a major theme is their culture shock at camping out in the rural Georgia wilderness, especially after they are attacked by rednecks.
- Designing Women
- The Devil's Panties
- Driving Miss Daisy
- The Dukes of Hazzard occasionally uses it as a setting, and the first five episodes were filmed in the area.
- Farewell to Nostradamus: About a group of thieves trying to steal a book containing lost prophecies written by Nostradamus from the fictional Earth Building located in Atlanta.
- Futurama, "The Deep South": Atlanta was relocated to the middle of the ocean and sank, becoming a stand-in for Atlantis.
- The General, is based on the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862 that started in what is now Kennesaw, just north of Atlanta.
- G.I. Joe: Scarlett is a big Shout-Out to Gone with the Wind, as (barring the movies where she hails from Canada), she hails from Atlanta (and part of the finale of G.I. Joe: Renegades takes place in it) and in addition to having "Scarlett" as a codename, her real last name is O'Hara.
- Gold Digger: The Diggers family lives in Atlanta, creator Fred Perry's hometown.
- Gone with the Wind - not only is the Burning of Atlanta included in the second act, but Margaret Mitchell was born and died in Atlanta, hit by a car on Peachtree Street. Not only that, but Ted Turner, based in the area, eventually came to own the film (via his 1986 acquisition of the MGM library)
- The Kate Daniels novel series is set in Atlanta that's been overrun and partly destroyed by magic.
- Though it doesn't pass through Atlanta proper, Left 4 Dead 2 begins in Savannah and the Survivors pass through the state on their way to New Orleans.
- Life As We Know It starring Katherine Heigl.
- A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe.
- Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition. The second part of the game takes place in Atlanta. Several landmarks can be seen while driving around.
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is set in Savannah, Georgia, which is...nowhere near and nothing like Atlanta, but is at least in the same state. It's still common for people unfamiliar with Georgia to get the two cities confused.
- The Queer Eye (2018) reboot takes place here.
- Raising Dion. Also shot there.
- Sabotage (2014)
- ''Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and its film adaptation, Love, Simon.
- Single Ladies, a VH1 show produced by Queen Latifah which can be considered Sex and the City IN ATLANTA! And not white-washed!
- Triple 9
- Most of Tyler Perry's movies take place in Atlanta.
- The Walking Dead, both comic book and TV show, started out next to Atlanta, although they moved away fairly quickly.
- The Zoë Martinique series of novels takes place in Atlanta.
Shows based in Atlanta:
- The internet comedy group Dormtainment live in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody, in fact at least two of their videos require you to have some knowledge of the Atlanta area to get it (though you could probably figure it out): "Straight Outta Dunwoody" (a rap song about an upper-middle class suburb) and "Bday Bash" (annual concert held by a radio station in Atlanta).
- The current version of Family Feud moved here in 2011, to accommodate host Steve Harvey's other commitments (including being a radio host and having his own talk show); it previously taped in Hollywood and at Universal Studios in Orlando, and will be moving back to Hollywood in the near-future.
- Good Eats is primarily filmed in Alpharetta and Marietta, Georgia.
- The Neal Boortz Show
- The Real Housewives Of Atlanta, on Bravo.
- Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta on VH1
Shows and films shot in Atlanta, but set elsewhere:
- Black Lightning (set in the fictional Freeland)
- Devious Maids (set in Beverly Hills)
- The Divergent Series: Insurgent and Allegiant (set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago)note
- Drop Dead Diva (set in Los Angeles)
- Halt and Catch Fire (set in the DFW Metroplex)
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (set in the Capitol of Panem)
- Several Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were at least partially filmed in Atlanta: Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther, among others.
- Necessary Roughness (set in Long Island)
- RoboCop 3 (As with everything else in the RoboCop franchise, it's set in Detroit)
- Stranger Things (set in Indiana)
- Sweet Home Alabama (set in Alabama)
- We Are Marshall (set in Huntington, West Virginia)note
Creators originally from or based in Atlanta:
- The Weather Channel
- The Turner networks:
- Jeff Foxworthy
- David Cross
- Micaela Dee
- Chloë Moretz
- Tyler Perry
- Matt and Mike Chapman (The Brothers Chaps), creators of Homestar Runner
- Donald Glover
- Tiffany Grant
Musical acts based in or originally from Atlanta:
- Atlanta has a huge rap and hip-hop scene, perhaps best known for spearheading the "Dirty South" movement, one of rap's most popular. A vast amount, possibly a majority nowadays, of rappers come from Atlanta, which produces a wide variety of acts such as Outkast (composed of Big Boi and Andre 3000), Soulja Boy, Lil Jon, Ludacris, D4L, Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, T.I., Future, Jeezy (formerly Young Jeezy, before he got old and the stage name stopped being accurate), Waka Flocka Flame, Rasheeda, Killer Mike, Crime Mob, Ying Yang Twins, Jazze Pha, Childish Gambino (Donald Glover's hip hop moniker), Dem Franchize Boys, Young Dro, Rich Homie Quan, Lil' Scrappy, Gorilla Zoe, Youngbloodz, Travis Porter, Migos, Field Mob, Bo B, Drumma Boy, Roscoe Dash, Yung Wun, I-20, Cyhi The Prynce, OJ Da Juiceman, Slick Pulla, Boyz n da Hood, Silentó, Pastor Troy, Playboi Carti, Yung Wun, Young Thug, Gunna, Unk, Trinidad James, Bone Crusher, Polow da Don, and Yung Joc.
- Many R&B artists also come from Atlanta: Usher, India.Arie, TLC, Cee Lo Green, Keri Hilson, Monica, Ciara and Toni Braxton, to name a few.
- Atlanta-based producer Bill Lowery launched the careers of Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed, and others.
- The Black Crowes
- Cat Power
- Canadian Justin Bieber moved to Atlanta to forward his music career.
- The Indigo Girls grew up in Decatur and started performing locally when they were students at Emory University.