Athens, Georgia facts for kids

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Athens Georgia
Consolidated city–county
Athens-Clarke County
Nickname(s): "The Classic City"
Location in Clarke County and the state of Georgia
Location in Clarke County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
County Clarke
Named for Athens, Greece
Area
 • Consolidated city–county 118.2 sq mi (306.2 km2)
 • Land 117.8 sq mi (305.0 km2)
 • Water 0.5 sq mi (1.2 km2)
Elevation 636 ft (194 m)
Population (2010)
 • Consolidated city–county 115,452
 • Density 851.5/sq mi (328.8/km2)
 • Metro 192,541
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 30601, 30602, 30603, 30604, 30605, 30606, 30607, 30608, 30609, 30612
Area code(s) 706/762
FIPS code 13-03440
Website athensclarkecounty.com

Athens (formally known as Athens-Clarke County) is a consolidated city–county in the U.S. state of Georgia, in the northeastern part of the state, comprising the former city of Athens proper (the county seat) and Clarke County. The University of Georgia, the state's flagship public research university, is located in this college town, and contributed to its initial growth. In 1991, after a vote the preceding year, the original city abandoned its charter to form a unified government with Clarke County, referred to jointly as Athens-Clarke County. As of the 2010 census, the consolidated city-county (including all of Athens-Clarke County except Winterville and a portion of Bogart) had a total population of 115,452; all of Clarke County had a population of 116,714. Athens is the sixth-largest city in Georgia, and the principal city of the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 192,541 as of the 2010 census. Athens-Clarke County has the smallest geographical area of a county in Georgia.

History

See also: Timeline of Athens, Georgia
Franklin House (Athens, Georgia) 1936 Historic American Buildings Survey
Historic American Buildings of Athens in 1936

In the late 18th century, a trading settlement on the banks of the Oconee River called Cedar Shoals stood where Athens is located today. On January 27, 1785, the Georgia General Assembly granted a charter by Abraham Baldwin for the University of Georgia as the first state-supported university. Sixteen years later, in 1801, a committee from the university's board of trustees selected a site for the university on a hill above Cedar Shoals in what was then Jackson County. On July 25, John Milledge, one of the trustees and later governor of Georgia, bought 633 acres (256 ha) from Daniel Easley and donated it to the university. Milledge named the surrounding area Athens after the city that was home to the academy of Plato and Aristotle in Greece.

Athens, Georgia City Hall 2008
City Hall on College Avenue in Downtown Athens, seen across Washington Street

The first buildings on the University of Georgia campus were made from logs. The town grew as lots adjacent to the college were sold to raise money for the additional construction of the school. By the time the first class graduated from the university in 1804, Athens consisted of three homes, three stores and a few other buildings facing Front Street, now known as Broad Street. Completed in 1806 and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin College was the University of Georgia's and the City of Athens' first permanent structure. This brick building is now known as Old College.

Athens officially became a town in December 1806 with a government made up of a three-member commission. The university continued to grow, as did the town, with cotton mills fueling the industrial and commercial development. Athens became known as the "Manchester of the South" after the city in England known for its mills. In 1833 a group of Athens businessmen led by James Camak, tired of their wagons getting stuck in the mud, built one of Georgia's first railroads, the Georgia, connecting Athens to Augusta by 1841, and to Marthasville (now Atlanta) by 1845. In the 1830s and 1840s, transportation developments combined with the growing influence of the University of Georgia made Athens one of the state's most important cities as the antebellum era neared the height of its development. The university essentially created a chain reaction of growth in the community which developed on its doorstep.

During the American Civil War, Athens became a significant supply center when the New Orleans armory was relocated to what is now called the Chicopee building. Fortifications can still be found along parts of the North Oconee River between College and Oconee St. In addition, Athens played a small part in the ill-fated Stoneman Raid when a skirmish was fought on a site overlooking the Middle Oconee River near what is now the old Macon Highway. As in many southern towns, there is a Confederate memorial. It is located on Broad Street, near the University of Georgia Arch.

During Reconstruction, Athens continued to grow. The form of government changed to a mayor-council government with a new city charter on August 24, 1872, and Captain Henry Beusse became the first mayor of Athens. Henry Beusse was instrumental in the rapid growth of the city after the Civil War. After holding the position of mayor he worked in the railroad industry and helped to bring railroads to the region creating growth in many of the surrounding communities. Freed slaves moved to the city. Many were attracted by the new centers for education such as the Freedmen's Bureau. This new population was served by three black newspapers: the Athens Blade, the Athens Clipper, and the Progressive Era.

In the 1880s, as Athens became more densely populated, city services and improvements were undertaken. The Athens Police Department was founded in 1881 and public schools opened in fall of 1886. Telephone service was introduced in 1882 by the Bell Telephone Company. Transportation improvements were also introduced with a street paving program beginning in 1885 and streetcars, pulled by mules, in 1888.

AthensGeorgiaStreetScene2008 05 s 03
Broad Street in Downtown Athens near North Campus of the University of Georgia

By its centennial in 1901, Athens was a much-changed city. A new city hall was completed in 1904. An African-American middle class and professional class grew around the corner of Washington and Hull Streets, known as the "Hot Corner", where the Morton Building was constructed in 1910. The theater at the Morton Building hosted movies and performances by black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington. In 1907 aviation pioneer Ben T. Epps became Georgia's first pilot on a hill outside town that would become the Athens-Ben Epps Airport. Athens got its first tall building in 1908 with the seven-story Southern Mutual Insurance Company building.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy built new buildings and paved runways to serve as a training facility for naval pilots. In 1954, the U.S. Navy chose Athens as the site for the Navy Supply Corps school. The school was located in Normal Town in the buildings of the old Normal School. The school closed in 2011 under the Base Realignment and Closure process. The 56 acres (23 ha) site is now home to the GHSU/UGA Medical Partnership, the UGA College of Public Health, and other health-related programs

In 1961, Athens witnessed part of the civil rights movement when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes became the first two black students to enter the University of Georgia. Despite the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954, the Athens–Clarke County school district remained segregated until 1964.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the balance has a total area of 118.2 square miles (306.1 km2), of which 117.8 square miles (305.1 km2) is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) (0.41%) is water.

Athens lies within the humid subtropical climate zone, with hot, humid summers and mild to moderately cold winters. Annual rainfall averages 49.7 inches (1,260 mm). Light to moderate snowfall can occur in winter. In the spring, frequent thunderstorms can sometimes become severe, even producing tornadoes. The city itself sits on a series of anomalous hills, unique to the Piedmont region.

Climate

Athens has a humid subtropical climate. Its climatic regime is in many ways typical of Southeastern United States with long and hot summers transitioning into short and cool winters, but with precipitation being consistently high throughout the year.

Climate data for Athens, Georgia (Ben Epps Airport), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 80
(26.7)
81
(27.2)
89
(31.7)
97
(36.1)
100
(37.8)
109
(42.8)
108
(42.2)
107
(41.7)
108
(42.2)
98
(36.7)
86
(30)
80
(26.7)
109
(42.8)
Average high °F (°C) 53.9
(12.17)
58.2
(14.56)
66.2
(19)
74.0
(23.33)
81.8
(27.67)
88.7
(31.5)
91.4
(33)
89.9
(32.17)
84.0
(28.89)
74.4
(23.56)
65.2
(18.44)
55.7
(13.17)
73.6
(23.11)
Average low °F (°C) 33.1
(0.61)
36.3
(2.39)
42.5
(5.83)
49.3
(9.61)
58.2
(14.56)
66.4
(19.11)
69.8
(21)
69.3
(20.72)
62.7
(17.06)
51.5
(10.83)
42.4
(5.78)
35.0
(1.67)
51.4
(10.78)
Record low °F (°C) −4
(-20)
3
(-16.1)
11
(-11.7)
26
(-3.3)
37
(2.8)
45
(7.2)
55
(12.8)
53
(11.7)
36
(2.2)
24
(-4.4)
7
(-13.9)
2
(-16.7)
−4
(-20)
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.05
(102.9)
4.48
(113.8)
4.42
(112.3)
3.14
(79.8)
3.00
(76.2)
4.18
(106.2)
4.47
(113.5)
3.52
(89.4)
3.94
(100.1)
3.55
(90.2)
3.82
(97)
3.73
(94.7)
46.29
(1,175.8)
Snowfall inches (cm) 1.6
(4.1)
.8
(2)
.9
(2.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.3
(0.8)
3.5
(8.9)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.4 9.5 9.3 8.2 8.7 10.8 10.5 9.1 7.7 6.8 8.6 9.9 109.6
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) .8 .5 .2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .3 1.8
Source: NOAA (extremes 1884–present)

Neighborhoods

  • Downtown
  • Pulaski Heights
  • Five Points
  • Chicopee-Dudley
  • East Side
  • Boulevard
  • West Side
  • Newtown
  • Normaltown
  • Cobbham
  • Beechwood
  • Briarcliff
  • Carr's Hill

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 273
1850 1,661
1860 3,848 131.7%
1870 4,251 10.5%
1880 6,099 43.5%
1890 8,639 41.6%
1900 10,245 18.6%
1910 14,913 45.6%
1920 16,748 12.3%
1930 18,192 8.6%
1940 20,650 13.5%
1950 28,180 36.5%
1960 31,355 11.3%
1970 44,342 41.4%
1980 42,549 −4.0%
1990 45,734 7.5%
2000 100,266 119.2%
2010 115,452 15.1%
Est. 2015 122,604 6.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 100,266 people, 39,239 households, and 19,344 families residing in the city. The population density was 851.5 people per square mile (328.8/km²). There were 41,633 housing units at an average density of 353.6 per square mile (136.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.71% White, 27.37% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 3.15% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.11% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.39% of the population.

The large population increase from 1990 to 2000 reflects the altered boundaries that came with the consolidation of Athens and Clarke County, not just the influx of new residents.

There were 39,239 households out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.3% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.7% were non-families. 29.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city, the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 31.6% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 15.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,118, and the median income for a family was $41,407. Males had a median income of $30,359 versus $23,039 for females. The per capita income for the balance was $17,103. About 15.0% of families and 28.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.2% of those under age 18 and 13.5% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

The Georgia Museum of Art has been since 1982 the official state art museum. Culture coexists with the university students in creating an art scene, music scene and intellectual environment. The city has music venues, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that cater to its creative climate.

Points of interest

State Botanical Garden of Georgia 001
Formal garden at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia
  • One of the remaining two double barreled cannons produced during the American Civil War is located here.
  • The "Tree That Owns Itself," which is now an offspring of the original tree
  • The Georgia Museum of Art, the official state museum of art
  • The State Botanical Garden of Georgia
  • The University of Georgia Campus Arboretum
  • St. Mary's Steeple, home of the First R.E.M. show and site for newly founded renovation.
  • The Globe bar was voted by Esquire magazine as the third top bar in America in 2007.
  • Founded in 1955, Allen's is Athens' oldest bar and grill despite closing in 2004, re-opening in 2007, and closing again in November, 2011.
  • Network Translations, Inc. developed here. It produced the PIX firewall which was later purchased by Cisco Systems.

Music

Georgia Theater, Athens

The Athens music scene grew in the early 1970s and later during the 1980s with the Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt Club as the bands R.E.M. and the B-52's scored breakout hits. Other notable bands were Widespread Panic, Dreams So Real, Indigo Girls, Vigilantes of Love, Matthew Sweet, The Method Actors, Love Tractor, Pylon, Flat Duo Jets, The Primates, Modern Skirts, The Whigs, and Corey Smith.

National acts that have come out of Athens include: The Whigs, Reptar, Danger Mouse, Dreams So Real, alternative duo Jucifer, Servotron, Vic Chesnutt, Drive-By Truckers, Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Sunshine Fix, Colt Ford, Velocirapture, Brantley Gilbert, Corey Smith, Harvey Milk, The Olivia Tremor Control, of Montreal, Widespread Panic, Perpetual Groove, Five Eight, Dead Confederate, Thayer Sarrano, Jet by Day, Mothers, and Athens Boys Choir. R.E.M. members Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Peter Buck still maintain residences in Athens.

Every summer since 1996 the city has hosted AthFest, a nonprofit music and arts festival in the downtown area.

Sister cities

See also: List of sister cities in the United States

Athens has three sister cities.

Footnotes

  • Michael J. Gagnon, Transition to an Industrial South: Athens, Georgia, 1830-1870. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2012.

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