Atlanta is a city rich in culture and brimming with history. This shining southern metropolis was first named Terminus in the 1830s when a settlement was founded here around a major hub for the country’s emerging railroad system. Originally incorporated as Marthasville in 1843, the city would later be given the name “Atlanta” by an act of the Georgia General Assembly in 1845. In the years since its incorporation, Atlanta has borne witness to some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, served as the birthplace of one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most iconic symbols, introduced the nation to the 39th president of the United States and hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics. As one would imagine with a city of such historic significance, the past is celebrated in a wide variety of ways and places. With the advent of Presidents Day on February 18, it’s the ideal time for Atlantans to get in touch with their patriotic side with a visit to five of Atlanta’s greatest historic sites and museums.
Jimmy Carter Library And Museum
441 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307
In January 1977, a peanut farmer from the state of Georgia took the oath of office as the 39th president of the United States. Today, his presidential library and museum are located in the heart of downtown Atlanta – commemorating Jimmy Carter’s term as president, as well as all of his humanitarian acts in the years since leaving office. Visitors to the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum can stand in the doorway of a full-scale replica of the Oval Office when Carter was president, observe gifts from various heads of state and view photos and historic memorabilia from the Carter Presidency. The museum also plays host to traveling exhibitions, as well as special events such as book readings and signings. As the one and only president from the state of Georgia, a visit to the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum is a must for history buffs in and around Atlanta.
Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site
401 Little White House Road
Warm Springs, GA 31830
While Jimmy Carter may have been the only United States president from the state of Georgia, there was another U.S. president who spent a great deal of time here. Drawn to a city located 70 miles south of Atlanta for the rumored healing properties of the fresh-water springs that were peppered throughout the area, polio-stricken Franklin Delano Roosevelt built a charming vacation home in Warm Springs in 1932. Affectionately dubbed “The Little White House,” visitors to the Georgia State Parks-managed historic site will be treated to a historic film, in addition to a tour of the house and grounds.
Atlanta History Center
130 W. Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA 30305
Situated on 33 sprawling and scenic acres in the affluent Buckhead area of Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center is comprised of the historic Swan House and Smith Family Farm, the Atlanta History Museum, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, breathtaking historic gardens and more. Also associated with the Center – but located in Midtown at 990 Peachtree Street NE – is the Margaret Mitchell House, which includes the apartment where the famed Atlanta author penned “Gone With the Wind.”
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
900 Kennesaw Mountain Drive
Kennesaw, GA 30152
(770) 427-4686 ext. 0
Walk the grounds where the Civil War battle to take Atlanta began, lasting from June to July of 1864. Witness a battle reenactment, catch the historical film at the visitor’s center or imagine yourself a soldier as you stand beside one of the many enormous cannons peppered throughout the park. True Civil War fanatics will also want to add a visit to the Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum in Grant Park at 800-C Cherokee Avenue SE in Atlanta.
Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave., NE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Peppered along Atlanta’s celebrated Auburn Avenue, the historic site – maintained by the National Parks Service – is open for tours of the birthplace, historic Ebenezer Baptist church and final resting place of Civil Rights leader and legend Martin Luther King, Jr. Associated with the historic site, The King Center has served as a major Atlanta landmark – drawing more than one million visitors each year.