Why is Atlanta the Capital of Georgia?

Why is Atlanta the Capital of Georgia?
Why is Atlanta the Capital of Georgia?

Atlanta is the largest city and state capital of Georgia. With the Atlanta metropolitan area housing a population of 6.1 million, it is the eight largest metropolitan city in the United States. It features hills and dense forests, lying about 1,000 feet above sea level at the southernmost point of the Appalachian Mountains. 

It lies within Fulton County in the northern central part of the state, Fulton being the most populous county in Georgia, with 10% of the city overflowing into DeKalb county. As a major transportation hub and center of industry, Atlanta lies at the heart of four Interstates (I-20, I-75, I-85, and I-285), is home to the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and MARTA rapid transit. 

The rest of this article will tell you all about Atlanta, snippets about its interesting history, and the best places to visit if you ever find yourself traveling to this incredible city. 

Where Is the Capital Of Georgia Located?

Where Is the Capital Of Georgia Located
Where Is the Capital Of Georgia Located

Georgia’s state capital lies at the southernmost end of the Appalachian Mountains, giving Atlanta the unique distinction of having the most dense tree coverage of any major US city. Its geographical location lends it with one of the most unique topographies of any US city – a combination of rolling hills and lush, dense forests. 

Atlanta is located in the northwest part of the state, with Georgia bordering five states. The distance of the city from the borders of each of its neighboring states are as follows: 

  • South Carolina – roughly 200 miles to the east
  • Tennessee – about 110 miles to the north
  • North Carolina – approximately 110 miles northeast
  • Alabama – about 90 miles to the west
  • Florida – 260 miles to the south

Atlanta’s location has served it well as a center of industry and major transportation hub, its four Interstates making travel to its five neighboring states quick and convenient. 

Brief History of Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, USA Downtown Skyline Aerial Panorama
Atlanta, Georgia, USA Downtown Skyline Aerial Panorama

The area now known as Atlanta was originally populated by the indigenous Creek people. Their main settlement of Standing Peachtree – which became Fort Peachtree in 1812 long after Europeans arrived – is located where Peachtree Creek joins the Chattanooga River. The land where this settlement once was is now the Buckhead area of Atlanta. 

The Creek were forced to leave the area in 1821, and Standing Peachtree became a European settlement. 

Railroad Terminus

Atlanta, Georgia was first founded as a railroad terminus in 1837, mainly to link Savannah to the Midwest. It wouldn’t become known as “Atlanta” for decades, instead being christened as Thrashersville to honor the local carpenter who built the first homes in the area. In 1842, the town was renamed Marthasville after the governor’s daughter. 

The town wouldn’t become known as Atlanta until 1847, when Chief Engineer of the Georgia Railroad, John Edgar Thomson, suggested the name. 

Civil War

Atlanta became a major transportation hub during the Civil War, as the city was a vital center for transporting military supplies for the Confederacy. 

However, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, Atlanta became unofficially known as the capital of the New South due to it being a major transportation hub and center of industry. 

In 1868, after the war, Atlanta was officially named Georgia’s new state capital. During this time, the state capital building was still under construction, so the Kimball Opera House temporarily served as the capital building until 1885, when construction on the new capital building was complete. 


Near the end of the Civil War, Atlanta was almost completely burned to the ground. However, the city quickly rebounded and became a center of industry and hub of technological and industrial commerce. The post-war era found many people flocking to Atlanta for better opportunities. 

Civil Rights Movement

The 1960s saw Atlanta at the center of the Civil Rights Movement, when African American citizens sought equal rights to their white counterparts. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arguably the most famous Civil Rights activist and was at the forefront of this historic movement, as well as other black and white Americans who believed in desegregation and equal rights for all, regardless of race. 

When did Atlanta Become the Capital of Georgia?

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during twilight hour after sunset
Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during twilight hour after sunset

Atlanta, Georgia didn’t become the state’s capital until 1868. While the notion of moving Georgia’s state capital from Milledgeville to Atlanta wasn’t new, as it was proposed and rejected several times before the Civil War, representatives finally agreed to name Atlanta as the new state capital in 1868. 

While Atlanta was named the capital in 1868, it wouldn’t be until 1885 when construction on the new capital building was complete. 

Why is Atlanta the Capital of Georgia?

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta Botanical Garden

The main reason Atlanta was considered and ultimately chosen as Georgia’s state capital was because of its rapid population growth – especially during and after the Reconstruction era – and its significant standing as a major railroad center. 

Georgia had four other state capitals before being moved to Atlanta. Savannah was the very first capital of Georgia before the American Revolution, followed then by Augusta, Louisville, and Milledgeville. 

Best Places to Visit in Atlanta

In 2022, Atlanta, Georgia was voted the Best in Travel by Lonely Planet and the Best in the World Travel by National Geographic. With such high expectations to get the most out of your visit, finding the best places to visit can be daunting.

Fortunately, there’s something for everyone in this amazing city – including art, culture, hiking, family events, cuisine, history, and more. 

  • Atlanta History Center – 33 acres of exhibits, trails, and historic homes and buildings that highlight Atlanta’s rich history
  • Georgia Aquarium – see more than 100,000 species of aquatic life in one of the world’s top-rated aquariums
  • World of Coca Cola – learn all about this iconic soda in a museum dedicated entirely to Coca-Cola
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park – learn more about the man who stood at the front of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Stone Mountain Park – visit the attractions and take a walk back in time in this historic park

See Also

Capital Cities 

Why is Atlanta the Capital of Georgia?

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!