ATLANTA is a relatively young city. It only came into being in 1837, when an almost random dot on the map was named “Terminus” during plans for railroad construction. The Chattahoochee River here is not navigable and the land poor for agriculture, but after the railroads duly arrived, the re-named Atlanta proved to be a crucial transportation centre in the Civil War. In 1864 Sherman’s army burned the entire city, an act immortalized in Gone with the Wind, but postwar recovery was speedy: Atlanta was the archetype of the aggressive, urban, industrial “New South”, championed by “boosters” – newspaper owners, bankers, politicians and city leaders. Industrial giants who based themselves here included Coca-Cola, source of a string of philanthropic gifts to the city. Heavy black immigration increased its already considerable black population and led to the establishment of the thriving African-American community, centred around Auburn Avenue, that was to produce Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr (1929–68)