City - Directory | Atlanta

Atlanta History

Use the timeline below to navigate to various periods in Atlanta’s History.

1782 – 1859 | 1860 – 1864 | 1865 – 1877 | 1878 – 1899 | 1900 – 1930 | 1931 – 1960 | 1961 – 1986

Fort Peachtree

It could be argued that the history of Atlanta began at Fort Peachtree, where Peachtree Creek flows into the Chattahoochee River. Way back when this point was the borderline between the Creek Indian lands to the south and Cherokee territories to the north, there stood a large peach tree (or, depending on who you listen to, it may have been some sort of pine, or “pitch” tree.) The tree gave the name to the nearby creek, which in turn gave the name to the main Indian trail in the area, and from that, the street, and so on.

And on this spot in 1814, the Americans built Fort Peachtree to watch over the neighborhood — and maybe also the tribes — during the War of 1812. (The fort is a latter-day recreation constructed by the Water Department, which today operates a water quality monitoring station on the site. At this writing, the property has remained closed to visitors after the events of September 11, 2001.)

The Founding of Atlanta

In 1836 the Western and Atlantic Railroad was approved and an end point, or “Terminus” was chosen in 1837 and the post indicating it was driven into the ground and named The Zero Mile Post. The Zero Mile Post was located about 4 blocks from the current day Five Points, at Forsyth and Magnolia Streets. Eventually the Zero Mile Post was moved to several miles to the South East where it can be found today near the entrance to Underground Atlanta.

During this time the area under went a series of name changes, the first being Thrasherville, after it’s founder John Thrasher. Later it was referred to as Terminus, which literally means “end of the line”. In 1842, the city continued to expand and the residents requested the name to be changed to “Lumpkin” after the current Governor of Georgia, Wilson Lumpkin. Lumpkin declined and asked the residents to name it “Marthasville” after his daughter instead. In 1845 the Chief Engineer of the Georgia Rail Road suggested renaming the city once again, and changing it to “Atlantica-Pacifica.” This was quickly shortened to “Atlanta” and became the official name in 1847.