What Makes Atlanta Great
The Inside Scoop on Your New Home
By Kevin Forest Moreau
If you’re looking for a new city to call home, there are many reasonswhy Atlanta should be at the top of your list. And if you’ve already made the move, congratulations! Either way, there’s a lot to learn about this great city and its surrounding metropolitan area. On the pages that follow, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about this capital city of the Southeast, from its top-flight arts scene to its stellar attractions, entertainment options and rising status as the Hollywood of the South.
Arts and EntertainmentAtlanta is a hub of the arts. The Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre stages thought-provoking and crowd-pleasing works and has premiered shows that went on to the Broadway stage; the thriving theater scene also includes such acclaimed companies as Georgia Shakespeare, Theatrical Outfit, 7 Stages and True Colors. The High Museum of Art, the Southeast’s leading art museum, houses such acclaimed exhibits as the recent Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting and Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis, featuring works from Vermeer, Rembrandt and other Dutch artists..
The Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Opera and Atlanta Sy mphony Orchestra are all world-class performing arts institutions. Venues including Chastain Park Amphitheatre, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, the Fox Theatre, the Ferst Center for the Arts, the Rialto Performing Arts Center, Spivey Hall and Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, among others, host big-name concert tours and high-caliber national theatrical productions. And last but not least, the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks professional sports teams draw thousands of fans each year.
AttractionsAtlanta offers much for locals and visitors to see and do year-round. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is home to 30 gorgeous acres of themed gardens, including a Japanese garden and a rose garden, and often hosts events and outdoor art exhibits. Centennial Olympic Park is an oasis in the heart of downtown that hosts concerts and events and is popular with children for its Fountain of Rings. The Fernbank Museum of Natural History spotlights the natural world with informative exhibits, IMAX films and giant dinosaur skeletons in its atrium.
The Georgia Aquarium bills itself as the world’s largest, with some 500 species frolicking in its more than 8 million gallons of water. The World of Coca-Cola takes visitors on a guided tour of the history of the world’s most famous soft drink company, which is headquartered in Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta is home to more than 1,500 animals, and is one of only a handful of zoos in the country to feature giant pandas.
Family FunThe city also offers many attractions of special interest to children. The Center for Puppetry Arts traces the history of this unique art form and houses exclusive exhibits spotlighting the work of Jim Henson. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta offers fun, informative exhibits for young children and preteens. Interactive Neighborhood for Kids is an interactive museum in Gainesville where children can role-play and climb aboard a real 1927 fire truck.
The LEGO Discovery Center is an interactive playground filled with the world-famous building blocks, designed to delight and inspire children ages 3 through 10. The Six Flags Over Georgia theme park offers roller coasters, water rides and other thrills. The Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville makes learning fun with engaging exhibits and galleries as well as a planetarium and observatory.
BusinessAtlanta boasts one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies, serving as global headquarters to corporations including Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, AT&T Mobility and UPS. Chick-fil-A and Newell Rubbermaid call the city home, as well.
Atlanta also enjoys a robust media industry. Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, TBS, TNT, the Cartoon Network and other properties, is headquartered here, and the Weather Channel makes its home in the metro area, as well. Which leads us to …
Hollywood of the SouthIn the past decade, a booming TV and film industry has grown throughout the state. In 2010, Georgia’s was the fourth-largest film industry in the nation. Lured by tax incentives, motion pictures and television shows, including “The Walking Dead” and “The Vampire Diaries,” are constantly filming here.
Two large production studios, Tyler Perry Studios and EUE/Screen Gems, are located in the metro area, and there are plans to expand existing studios and build new facilities in Fayette County and Covington.
EducationAtlanta is home to a wealth of notable independent schools, including Atlanta International School, Greater Atlanta Christian School and Woodward Academy, the largest private school in the continental United States.
In addition, several public school systems across the metro area boast magnet schools for students with special abilities, as well as charter schools, which are given more freedom in how they educate their students.
The area is also home to more than 40 colleges and universities of different sizes, including such nationally recognized higher-learning schools as Agnes Scott College, Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Oglethorpe University, Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.
The Savannah College of Art and Design maintains a presence in Atlanta, as does Macon-based Mercer University. The city is also home to several distinguished historically black colleges including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morris Brown College and Spelman College.
Health CareAtlanta is well known for its hospitals and medically related entities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located near Emory University, heads a list of locally based organizations and research facilities that includes the American Cancer Society, the Emory University School of Medicine and Morehouse School of Medicine. Grady Memorial Hospital is renowned for having one of the best trauma and burn centers in the nation, while Northside Hospital delivers more babies per year than any other community hospital in the country.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is regarded as one of the nation’s premier pediatric hospitals. The Shepherd Center, one of the country’s leading catastrophic care hospitals for patients with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and degenerative and other such disorders, is headquartered here. Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, part of Piedmont Healthcare, has been recognized on U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.
HistoryThe metro area offers many links to Atlanta’s historic past. The 33-acre Atlanta History Center in Buckhead explores the city’s rich past with two museums, six gardens and two historic plantations. It also runs the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown, where the author once lived and where she wrote much of Gone With the Wind. The Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum features an impressive collection of memorabilia related to the book and movie. The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville showcases art and artifacts from and exploring the American West.
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, stretching over more than 2,900 acres in Cobb County, commemorates an historic Civil War battleground. And Stone Mountain Park, said to be Georgia’s most popular attraction, boasts 3,200 acres of beautiful scenery, amusement rides, hiking trails, golf and much more, all of it surrounding Stone Mountain and its historic portrait of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis.
TransportationAtlanta was conceived as a railroad town and is a major railroad spot. But its status as a major transportation hub is thanks largely these days to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Consistently ranked as the world’s busiest airport, it recently added a new international terminal that should keep it atop such lists for years to come. Three major interstates—20, 75 and 85—converge here, adding to the city’s convenience factor.
The city also boasts a number of public-transportation alternatives to automobile traffic, including MARTA, the area’s premier rail and bus service, as well as Cobb Community Transit, Gwinnett County Transit, and Xpress, a commuter bus service. Work has also begun on a downtown streetcar. The Atlanta BeltLine, a multi-use trail that will encircle the city and provide park space, is currently under development, with some parts already completed.