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Athens and Northeast Georgia

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.

History of Athens

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sanford Stadium

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.

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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.

B 52s

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.

Athens Quick Facts

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  • Population: 116,000
  • Clarke County is the smallest county in Georgia.
  • Athens has been mentioned in national publications such as The LA Times as a must see destination.
  • Athens has become a popular place for retirement in the south.
  • The Twilight Criterion is a major professional cycling event held each spring.
  • UGA
  • UGA consistently ranks as one of the best values in Higher Education in the US.
  • UGA bulldog mascot Uga V played his father Uga IV in the motion picture Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in 1997, and was pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated that same year as the “Nation’s Best College Mascot.”
  • Paste Magazine considers several music venues in Athens to be the best in the nation for live music.

Northeast Georgia Quick Facts:

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  • Founded in 1818, Gainesville, Georgia is the county seat of Hall County with a population of 35,000. The city is proud of its large poultry industry and is widely considered the ‘Poultry Capital of the World’. Gainesville is also recognized as the Healthcare and Business hub for Northeast Georgia.
  • Toccoa, Georgia is home to Toccoa Falls. The town is notable for the ‘Toccoa Falls Damn Break’ of 1977 which made national headlines.
  • Cumming, Dawsonville and Dahlonega are growing areas north of Atlanta. Once small towns, these communities have added upscale shopping, restaurants and country clubs.
  • Greensboro and Madison provide a mix of the Old and New South. Antebellum Homes mix with luxury resorts on Lake Oconee.
  • Northeast Georgia has numerous lakes which provide great recreational opportunities. Major lakes include Lanier, Hartwell, Burton, Oconee, Rabun and Sinclair.
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  • Helen, Georgia is famous for resurrecting itself as an ‘Alpine Village’ in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. City buildings are required to represent a Southern German architectural style. The Helen ‘Oktoberfest’ celebration draws thousands of visitors every year.
  • Mountains, lakes, small towns and urban areas make Northeast Georgia a diverse and appealing place to live, work and play.