Athens Georgia is located approximately 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. It is nicknamed “The Classic City” and is the home of The University of Georgia.
On January 27th, 1785 The University of Georgia became the first state chartered university in America. The city of Athens grew up around the University campus and officially became a town in 1806.
By the 1830s, Athens had become a mill town for the cotton industry and earned the nickname “Manchester” of the South.
In the 1880s, as Athens became more densely populated, city services were established and improvements were undertaken. The Athens Police Department was founded in 1881 and public schools opened in the fall of 1886. Telephone service was introduced in 1882 by the Bell Telephone Company. Transportation improvements began with a street paving program in 1885 and streetcars, pulled by mules, in 1888.
In 1907, Ben Epps, an aviation pioneer, became Georgia’s first pilot on a hill outside town that would become the Athens-Ben Epps Airport.
Athens first multi-story building, The Southern Mutual Insurance Company Building, was constructed in 1908.
In 1928 construction began on Sanford Stadium, the home of the Georgia Bulldogs football team. Over the years it has grown to be one of the largest college stadiums in the nation. UGA football has been a part of Athens culture since the turn of the century and continues to be a major attraction on fall Saturdays in Athens.
During World War II, Athens and UGA Served as a Flight Training Center for the US Navy. A decade later, the Navy Supply Corps School began operations in the 1950s and has been a fixture of Athens ever since.
In the early 1970s, The Athens music scene exploded with Ravenstone, a regionally popular band sometimes called “one of the godfathers of Athens rock,” along with the Normaltown Flyers. Bands R.E.M. and the B-52s scored breakout hits in the 1980s and established Athens as a hot spot for new music.
Other bands that have made their mark include Mercyland, Dreams So Real, Indigo Girls, Matthew Sweet, Love Tractor, Pylon, Flat Duo Jets, Modern Skirts, and Widespread Panic. The Athens music scene continues to thrive and remains a focal point of Athens Georgia culture.
Additional points of interest in Athens include The Botanical Gardens of Georgia and Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Quirky landmarks like the ‘Double-Barrel Cannon’ at the Athens Courthouse and the ‘Tree That Owns Itself’ add to the city’s unusual charm.