Several factors caused Georgia’s population to shift from rural to urban areas. These factors included the destruction of the cotton crop by the boll weevil, the great migration of African-Americans to northern cities, the movement of both blacks and whites to Georgia’s industrial centers and factories during both World Wars, and the AAA’s payments to farmers to stop them from growing crops during the Great Depression.
However, another major factor occurred after World War II. A major technological change in agricultural equipment further lessened the need for large numbers of agricultural workers. Some of the more important technological changes were larger tractors, reapers, and other machinery, combined with better fertilizers that made it easier to grow and process crops with much less man power. Also the growth of manufacturing and other industries in urban areas attracted people to move in and around big cities across Georgia.
Fun Fact: Though the rural population in Georgia has decreased from almost 85% in 1900 to less than 25% today, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, farming is still the most important part of Georgia’s economy, bringing in $56 billion a year to the state.
Station 2: Advances in Farm Equipment
Pre-WWII Farm Equipment
Modern Farm Equipment
Station 3: The GI Bill
The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 known informally as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation. It was available to every veteran who had been on active duty during the war years for at least one-hundred twenty days and had not been dishonorably discharged; combat was not required. By 1956, roughly 2.2 million veterans had used the G.I. Bill education benefits in order to attend colleges or universities, and an additional 5.6 million used these benefits for some kind of training program.
Veterans of Georgia had the opportunity to attend college for the very first time. Many Georgians were poor rural farmers before entering into WWII. Upon return from their service fighting overseas, many had the chance to afford college using the GI Bill. Thousands of young men migrated to Georgia’s cities to attend college. Once these young men received their education, they worked in city centers, leaving the countryside behind.
Station 4: Mayor William B. Hartsfield
William Berry Hartsfield was born on March 1,1890 in the Atlanta area.
He grew up attending Atlanta public schools, however he did not graduate from high school or go to college.
He served as mayor for six terms (1937-41, 1942-61), longer than any other person in the city's history
Hartsfield held office during a critical period when the color line separating the races began to change and the city grew from more than 100,000 inhabitants to a metropolitan population of one million.
He is credited with developing Atlanta into the aviation powerhouse that it is today and with building its image as "the City Too Busy to Hate.“
Instrumental in establishing Atlanta Airport – made ATL transportation hub of the South
After graduating from the local Boys High School, Allen attended the Georgia Institute of Technology from 1929 to 1933, majoring in business administration.
After he was elected president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1960, he launched the "Forward Atlanta" campaign
The purpose of the Atlanta Forward Campaign was to promote the city's image and attract new business and investment.
In addition to Atlanta Forward Campaign, MARTA, the city's rapid transit system, was proposed and mapped during the Allen years. He oversaw the early phases of construction of the Interstate 285 perimeter and the Downtown Connector, in an attempt to manage the vast increase in traffic brought on by the city's growth.
Allen was involved in community service long before becoming mayor. He headed Atlanta's Community Chest drive in 1947. In this role he was the first white man asked to attend the black division's kickoff dinner. After he was elected president of the chamber of commerce in 1960, he launched the "Forward Atlanta" campaign to promote the city's image and attract new business and investment.
Allen ran for mayor in 1961 and defeated Lester Maddox. He took office in 1962 and served two four-year terms. He quickly established himself as a liberal-minded leader over a city that was 40 percent black but almost fully segregated. On his first day in office, he ordered all "white" and "colored" signs removed from city hall, and he desegregated the building's cafeteria. He authorized the city's black policemen to arrest whites and hired the city's first black firefighters.
In 1965 he persuaded the Braves to move from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where they enjoyed only lukewarm support. In 1966 they became the Atlanta Braves, with the new Atlanta Fulton County Stadium as their home base. The mayor was also instrumental in establishing a National Football League team, the Atlanta Falcons, in 1966, and a professional basketball team, the Hawks, in 1968.
Station 7: Atlanta Sports Teams
Though not always successful, the Atlanta Braves were the only team in the city’s history to win a major championship (though it should be noted that the Atlanta Chiefs soccer team won the NASL title in 1968). Atlanta’s sports teams have brought thousands of jobs to the state and millions of dollars into the economy. They also gave Atlanta an aura of prestige as a “Major League City” and their facilities helped to bring the 1996 Olympic games. The first team to come to the city was the Atlanta Braves in 1966. They were followed in the same year by the Falcons, and in 1968 by the Hawks. While these sports teams have been mainstays since their arrival, Atlanta has been the home of many other professional sports teams including men’s hockey, arena league football, and women’s soccer and basketball.
Fun Fact: The Atlanta Braves are often thought of as the oldest professional sports team in the United States because they can trace their origins back to the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Though the Braves were one of the most successful baseball teams in the 1990s, they were the second team in Major League Baseball history to lose 10,000 games.
Fun Fact: Atlanta is the only city to lose two National Hockey League teams: the Atlanta Flames and the Atlanta Thrashers.