Metropolitan Atlanta is the area of Georgia surrounding the city of Atlanta and is one of the most densely populated regions in the country. Atlanta is located in northwestern Georgia, south of the Appalachian Mountains and north of the fall line that runs from Columbus to Augusta.
The area was originally inhabited by the Creek and Cherokee peoples before the arrival of European and American settlers. After the forced removal of Native Americans in the 1830s, the establishment of several railroad lines brought white settlers into the town known as Terminus. The town was renamed Marthasville in 1843 before finally becoming Atlanta two years later. During the Civil War, General William T. Sherman’s forces burned and destroyed the city during his March to the Sea. The city rapidly rebounded as people and railroads moved back into Atlanta in the post-war years and Atlanta quickly became Georgia’s largest in the decades that followed. In 1868, the capital of Georgia moved to Atlanta and has remained there to the present day. Atlanta became a hub for the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Under the leadership of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others, Atlanta became an example how a southern city could successfully desegregate government and public facilities.
Atlanta became a travel hub and center of commerce in second half of the twentieth century. Suburban growth skyrocketed during that period, giving rise to large neighboring cities, including Sandy Springs, Roswell, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Marietta, Smyrna, and Decatur. Atlanta is home to several sports franchises, the busiest airport in the country, and some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world. In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympic Games, making it the first southern city and the third American city to do so.
For information on the historical placement of Georgia's counties, see William Thorndale and William Dollarhide's Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920.