Atlanta is the capital of Georgia and the seat of Fulton County. A sprawling southern metropolis, Atlanta's skyline is a mixture of modern and postmodern buildings, punctuated by impressive skyscrapers. There is no true city center, as numerous commercial and business centers have sprung up throughout the city. This urban sprawl is a result of unprecedented economic and growth over the past decade. Atlanta prides itself on being one of the driving forces of the "New South."
Atlanta actually began as a terminal for the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1836. Originally dubbed "Terminus," the city was later renamed "Marthasville" (after Governor Wilson Lumpkin's daughter). Eventually, in 1845, the city's name was changed to "Atlanta" (a feminine form of "Atlantic," suggested by railroad magnate J. Edgar Thomson). The city of Atlanta was less than 30 years old when it was captured by Union General Sherman during the Civil War. At the behest of Father O'Reilly of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Sherman left the city's churches and hospitals standing. The rest, he ordered burned to the ground. It was Atlanta's remarkable recovery - it's rise from the ashes, as it were - that led to the city's adoption of the phoenix as its symbol.
During the 1960s, Atlanta was a center for the Civil Rights Movement. Following the arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King and several students during a lunch counter sit-in, the city drew attention from the national media and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. In response, Atlanta made a public show of support for desegregation and adopted a progressive civil rights stance, fostering its image as "the city too busy too hate."
Despite its reputation as being essentially a place to live and work, Atlanta has over the years become a major conference and exhibition city, in the area around Peachtree Center. The Sweet Auburn Historic District features The King Center and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. The Margaret Mitchell House is a museum dedicated to the Gone with the Wind author, and is based in her childhood home. Underground Atlanta is a festival marketplace located below street level. Also of interest in the city are the CNN Center and the World of Coca Cola.