Macon, Georgia facts for kids

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Macon, Georgia
Consolidated city–county
Macon–Bibb County
Downtown Macon
Official seal of Macon, Georgia
Seal
Location in Bibb county in the state of Georgia
Location in Bibb county in the state of Georgia
Country United States of America
State Georgia
County Bibb
Area
 • Consolidated city–county 661 km2 (255.13 sq mi)
 • Land 647 km2 (249.96 sq mi)
 • Water 3.2 km2 (0.5 sq mi)
Elevation 116 m (381 ft)
Population (2014)
 • Consolidated city–county 153,691
 • Metro 231,259 (193rd)
 • CSA 417,473 (97th)
 • Demonym Maconites
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 31200-31299
Area code(s) 478
FIPS code 13-49000
GNIS feature ID 0332301
Website maconbibb.us

Macon /ˈmkən/ (officially Macon–Bibb County) is a city located in the state of Georgia, United States. Macon lies near the geographic center of the state, approximately 85 miles (137 km) south of Atlanta, hence the city's nickname "the Heart of Georgia."

Settled near the fall line of the Ocmulgee River, Macon is the county seat of Bibb County and had a 2014 estimated population of 153,691. Macon is the principal city of the Macon metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 231,259 in 2014. Macon is also the largest city in the Macon–Warner Robins Combined Statistical Area (CSA), a larger trading area with an estimated 417,473 residents in 2014; the CSA abuts the Atlanta metropolitan area just to the north.

In a 2012 referendum, voters approved the consolidation of Macon and Bibb County, and Macon became Georgia's fourth-largest city (just after Augusta). The two governments officially merged on January 1, 2014.

Macon is served by three interstate highways: I-16 (connecting the city to Savannah and coastal Georgia), I-75 (connecting the city with Atlanta to the north and Valdosta to the south), and I-475 (a city bypass highway).

The city has several institutions of higher education, as well as numerous museums and tourism sites. The area is served by the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and the Herbert Smart Downtown Airport. The mayor of Macon is Robert Reichert, a former Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Reichert was elected mayor of the newly consolidated city of Macon–Bibb, and he took office on January 1, 2014.

History

See also: Timeline of Macon, Georgia

Macon lies on the site of the Ocmulgee Old Fields, where the historic Creek Indians lived in the 18th century. Their prehistoric predecessors, the Mississippian culture, built a powerful chiefdom (950–1100 AD) based on an agricultural village and constructed earthwork mounds for ceremonial, burial and religious purposes. The areas along the rivers in the Southeast had been inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples for 13,000 years before Europeans arrived.

Macon developed at the site of Fort Benjamin Hawkins, built from 1806–1809 at the fall line of the Ocmulgee River to protect the new frontier and establish a trading post with Native Americans. The fort was named in honor of Benjamin Hawkins, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southeast territory south of the Ohio River for more than two decades. He lived among the Creek and had a Creek wife. This was the most inland point of navigation on the river from the Low Country. President Thomas Jefferson forced the Creek to cede their lands east of the Ocmulgee River and ordered the fort built. (Archeological excavations in the 21st century found evidence of two separate fortifications.)

Fort Hawkins guarded the Lower Creek Pathway, an extensive and well-traveled American Indian network later improved by the United States as the Federal Road from Washington, DC to the ports of Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. A gathering point of the Creek and American cultures for trading, it was also a center of state militia and federal troops. The fort served as a major military distribution point during the War of 1812 against Great Britain and also during the Creek War of 1813. Afterward, the fort was used as a trading post for several years and was garrisoned until 1821. It was decommissioned about 1828 and later burned to the ground. A replica of the southeast blockhouse was built in 1938 and stands today on a hill in east Macon. Part of the fort site is occupied by the Fort Hawkins Grammar School. In the twenty-first century, archeological excavations have revealed more of the fort's importance, and stimulated planning for additional reconstruction of this major historical site.

Mill Children in Macon 2
Child labor in Macon, 1909. Photo by Lewis Hine.

As many settlers had already begun to move into the area, they renamed Fort Hawkins "Newtown." After the organization of Bibb County in 1822, the city was chartered as the county seat in 1823 and officially named Macon. This was in honor of the North Carolina statesman Nathaniel Macon, because many of the early settlers hailed from North Carolina. The city planners envisioned "a city within a park" and created a city of spacious streets and parks. They designated 250 acres (1.0 km2) for Central City Park, and passed ordinances requiring residents to plant shade trees in their front yards.

The city thrived due to its location on the Ocmulgee River, which enabled shipping to markets; cotton became the mainstay of Macon's early economy, based on the enslaved labor of Africans. Macon was in the Black Belt of Georgia, where cotton was the chief commodity crop. Cotton steamboats, stage coaches, and later, in 1843, a railroad increased marketing opportunities and contributed to the economic prosperity to Macon. In 1836, the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wesleyan College in Macon; it was the first college in the United States chartered to grant degrees to women. In 1855 a referendum was held to determine a capital city for Georgia. Macon came in last with 3,802 votes.

During the American Civil War, Macon served as the official arsenal of the Confederacy. Camp Oglethorpe, in Macon, was used first as a prison for captured Union officers and enlisted men. Later it held officers only, up to 2,300 at one time. The camp was evacuated in 1864.

Macon City Hall, which served as the temporary state capitol in 1864, was converted to use as a hospital for the wounded. The Union General William Tecumseh Sherman spared Macon on his march to the sea. His troops had sacked the nearby state capital of Milledgeville, and Maconites prepared for an attack. Sherman did not bother to go through Macon.

The Macon Telegraph wrote that, of the 23 companies which the city had furnished the Confederacy, only enough men survived and were fit for duty to fill five companies by the end of the war. The human toll was very high.

The city was taken by Union forces at the end of the war during Wilson's Raid on April 20, 1865.

Gradually into the twentieth century, Macon grew into a prospering town in Middle Georgia. It began to serve as a transportation hub for the entire state. In 1895, the New York Times dubbed Macon "The Central City," in reference to the city's emergence as a hub for railroad transportation and textile factories. Terminal Station was built in 1916.

Downtown Macon in the early 1900s

In 1994 Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall in Florida dumping 24 inches (61 cm) of rain, which resulted in major flooding in Georgia. Macon was one of the cities to suffer the worst flooding.

On May 11, 2008, an EF2 tornado touched down near Lizella. The tornado then tracked northeast to the south shore of Lake Tobesofkee then continued into Macon and lifted near Dry Branch near the Twiggs County line. The tornado did not produce a continuous path, but did produce sporadic areas of major damage. Widespread straight-line wind damage was also produced along and south of the track of the tornado. The most significant damage was in the city of Macon especially along Eisenhower Parkway and Pio Nono Avenue where 2 businesses were destroyed and several others sustaining heavy damage. Middle Georgia State College was also hit by the tornado, snapping or uprooting 50 percent or more of the trees and doing significant damage to several buildings on campus with the gymnasium sustaining the worst damage. This tornado varied in intensity from EF0 to EF2 with the EF2 damage and winds up to 130 miles per hour (210 km/h) occurring near the intersection of Eisenhower Parkway and Pio Nono Avenue. Total path length was 18 miles (29 km) with a path width of 100 yards (91 m).

In 2012, voters in Macon and Bibb County approved a new consolidated government between the city and county, making the city's new boundary lines the same as the county's and deannexing a small portion of the city that once lay in Jones County.

Downtown Macon GA From Ocmulgee Natl. Monument
Downtown Macon seen from the Ocmulgee National Monument

Consolidation

On July 31, 2012, voters in Macon (57.8 percent approval) and Bibb County (56.7 percent approval) passed a referendum to merge the governments of the city of Macon and most of unincorporated Bibb County, based on the authorization of House Bill 1171, passed by the Georgia General Assembly earlier in the year; four previous consolidation attempts (in 1933, 1960, 1972, and 1976) had failed.

Under the consolidation, the governments of Macon and Bibb County were replaced with a single mayor and a nine-member countywide commission elected to office by county districts. A portion of Macon that extends into nearby Jones County was deincorporated from Macon. Robert Reichert is the first mayor of Macon-Bibb after the election in September 2013 and a runoff with C. Jack Ellis in October.

Suburban flight and urban decay

Like many major industrial cities in the midwest and northeast, the city of Macon has suffered from urban decay, dilapidated bungalows and other old houses, high crime rates, air pollution from factories and urban blight which has caused flight from the city core to the more suburban portions of Bibb County and to more suburban areas like Houston County, just south of the city. This played a major role in the consolidation effort to combat the issues in a more unified manner. This has been more of an issue for Macon than Georgia's other 2nd-tier cities.

Geography

Maconbibbcourthouse
The Macon-Bibb County Courthouse

The Ocmulgee River is the major river that runs through the city. Macon is one of Georgia's three Fall Line Cities, along with Augusta and Columbus. The Fall Line is where the hilly lands of the Piedmont plateau meet the flat terrain of the coastal plain. As such, Macon has a varied landscape of rolling hills on the north side and flat plains on the south. The fall line, where the altitude drops noticeably, causes rivers in the area to flow rapidly toward the ocean. In the past, Macon and other Fall Line cities had many textile mills powered by the rivers.

Macon is located at 32°50′05″N 83°39′06″W / 32.834839°N 83.651672°W / 32.834839; -83.651672 (32.834839, −83.651672).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 56.3 square miles (146 km2), of which, 55.8 square miles (145 km2) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) of it (0.82%) is water.

Macon is approximately 330 feet (100 m) above sea level.

Climate

Macon has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The normal monthly mean temperature ranges from 46.3 °F (7.9 °C) in January to 81.8 °F (27.7 °C) in July. On average, there are 4.8 days with 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs, 83 days with 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, and 43 days with a low at or below freezing; the average window for freezing temperatures is November 7 thru March 22, allowing a growing season of 228 days. The city has an average annual precipitation of 45.7 inches (1,160 mm). Snow is occasional, with about half of the winters receiving trace amounts or no snowfall, averaging 0.7 inches (1.8 cm); the snowiest winter is 1972−73 with 16.5 in (42 cm).

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Surrounding cities and towns

Downtown Macon at night

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 3,297
1850 5,720 73.5%
1860 8,247 44.2%
1870 10,810 31.1%
1880 12,749 17.9%
1890 22,746 78.4%
1900 23,272 2.3%
1910 40,665 74.7%
1920 52,995 30.3%
1930 53,829 1.6%
1940 57,865 7.5%
1950 70,252 21.4%
1960 69,764 −0.7%
1970 122,423 75.5%
1980 116,896 −4.5%
1990 106,612 −8.8%
2000 97,255 −8.8%
2010 91,351 −6.1%
Est. 2015 153,515 68.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
Macon-Warner Robins-Fort Valley CSA
Location of the Macon-Warner Robins-Fort Valley CSA and its components:      Macon Metropolitan Statistical Area      Warner Robins Metropolitan Statistical Area      Fort Valley Micropolitan Statistical Area

Macon is the largest principal city of the Macon-Warner Robins-Fort Valley CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Macon metropolitan area (Bibb, Crawford, Jones, Monroe, and Twiggs counties), the Warner Robins metropolitan area (Houston County), and the Fort Valley micropolitan area (Peach County), which had a combined population of 346,801 at the 2000 census.

As of the official 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Macon was 91,351. In the last official census, in 2000, there were 97,255 people, 38,444 households, and 24,219 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,742.8 people per square mile (672.9/km2). There were 44,341 housing units at an average density of 794.6 per square mile (306.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.94% African American, 28.56% White, 0.02% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.48% of the population.

There were 38,444 households out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.0% were married couples living together, 25.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.0% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 79.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.8 males.

Arts and culture

Musical heritage

Orstatue
A statue of Otis Redding

Macon is the birthplace or hometown of musicians Emmett Miller, The Allman Brothers Band, Randy Crawford, Mark Heard, Lucille Hegamin, Otis Redding, Little Richard, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry of R.E.M., as well as more recent names like violinist Robert McDuffie and country artist Jason Aldean. September Hase, an alternative rock band, was discovered in Macon. Capricorn Records, run by Macon natives Phil Walden and briefly Alan Walden, made the city a hub for Southern rock music in the late 1960s and 1970s.

The Macon Symphony Orchestra performs at the Grand Opera House in downtown Macon, as well as a youth symphony, and the Middle Georgia Concert Band.

Festivals

Chblossomfest
Cherry Blossom Festival
2004-03121sunset
Georgia State Fair
  • International Cherry Blossom Festival - a 10-day celebration held every mid-March in Macon
  • The Mulberry Street Festival, - an arts and crafts festival held downtown the last weekend of March
  • The Juneteenth Freedom Festival - An annual June performing arts & educational observance of the end of American slavery 1865, celebrating black freedom and heritage, ancient & contemporary
  • Pan African Festival - an annual celebration of African American culture held in April
  • Ocmulgee Indian Celebration - A celebration of Macon's original Native American Heritage, this festival is held in September at Ocmulgee National Monument. Representatives from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and other nations come to share stories, exhibit native art, and perform.
  • The Georgia Music Hall of Fame hosts Georgia Music Week in September.
  • Macon's annual Bragg Jam festival features an Art and Kids' Festival along the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and a nighttime Pub Crawl.
  • Macon Film Festival (MaGa) - an annual celebration of independent films, held the third weekend in February

Points of interest

Fort Hawkins Macon, Georgia
Fort Benjamin Hawkins
15 30 096 ocmulgee
Ocmulgee National Monument

Historical sites

  • Terminal Station is a railroad station that was built in 1916, and is located on 5th St. at the end of Cherry St. It was designed by architect Alfred Fellheimer, prominent for his design of Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 1903.
  • Ocmulgee National Monument is located near downtown Macon. It preserves some of the largest ancient earthwork mounds in Georgia built by the Mississippian culture a millennium ago, c. 950-1150. It was sacred to the historic Muscogee (Creek Nation) as well. Archeological artifacts reveal 13,000 years of human habitation at the site. The park features a spiral mound, funeral mound, temple mounds, burial mounds, and a reconstructed earth lodge. It is the first Traditional Cultural Property designated by the National Park Service east of the Mississippi River.
  • Fort Benjamin Hawkins, a major military outpost (1806-1821), was a command headquarters for the US Army and Georgia militia on the frontier, as well as a trading post or factory for the Creek Nation. It was a supply depot during US campaigns of the War of 1812 and the Creek and Seminole Wars.
  • Cannonball House - historic site
  • Luther Williams Field
  • Rose Hill Cemetery - one of Macon's oldest cemeteries
  • Sidney Lanier Cottage - historical home of the poet Sidney Lanier
  • Temple Beth Israel - The Jewish congregation was founded in 1859, and now occupies a domed Neoclassical facility built in 1902.
  • Wesleyan College - first chartered women's college in the world

Museums

  • The Allman Brothers Band Museum - the "Big House" used by the Allman Brothers Band in the early 1970s, now a museum of Allman Brothers history and artifacts
  • The Georgia Children's Museum - interactive education, located in the downtown Museum District
  • Georgia Sports Hall of Fame
  • Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon) and Planetarium
  • Tubman Museum of African American Art, History, and Culture - the largest African American museum in the Southeast

Community

  • City Hall, Georgia's capitol for part of the Civil War
Macon Auditorium
Macon City Auditorium -- World's Largest True Copper Dome
Capitol thea
Cox Capitol Theater
  • Douglass Theatre
  • The Grand Opera House, where the Macon Symphony Orchestra performs
  • Hay House - also known as the "Johnston-Felton-Hay House," it has been referred to as the "Palace of the South"
  • City Auditorium, the world's largest true copper dome
  • Macon Coliseum
  • Macon Little Theatre, established in 1934, the area's oldest community theatre, producing seven plays/musicals per season
  • Waddell Barnes Botanical Gardens

Parks and recreation

The city maintains several parks and community centers.

OcmulgeeRiverWalk
Ocmulgee Riverwalk
  • Ocmulgee Heritage Trail - a green way of parks, plazas, and landmarks along the Ocmulgee River in downtown Macon
  • Bloomfield Park
  • East Macon Park
  • Frank Johnson Recreation Center
  • Freedom Park
  • L.H. Williams Community School Center
  • Memorial Park
  • North Macon Park
  • Rosa Jackson
  • Senior Center
  • John Drew Smith Tennis Center
  • Tattnall Square Tennis Center
  • Gateway Park Otis Redding

Sister cities

Macon has six sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

Images for kids


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