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Athens-Clarke County is a unified city-county in Georgiamarker, U.S.marker, in the northeastern part of the state. The University of Georgiamarker is located in this college town and is responsible for the initial creation of Athens and its subsequent growth. In 1991, after a vote the preceding year, the original city abandoned its charter in order to form a unified government with Clarke Countymarker, referred to collectively as Athens-Clarke County. As of the 2000 census, the consolidated city-county (including all of Athens-Clarke County except Wintervillemarker and a part of Bogartmarker) had a total population of 100,266. However, the most recent US Census estimate (2008) placed the population at 113,398. Athens-Clarke County is the fifth-largest city in Georgia and the principal city of the Athens-Clarke County, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 189,264 as of the 2008 Census Bureau estimate.


In the late 18th century, a trading settlement on the banks of the Oconee River called Cedar Shoals stood where Athens is located today. On January 27, 1785, the Georgia General Assembly granted a charter by Abraham Baldwin for the University of Georgia as the first state-supported university. Sixteen years later, in 1801, a committee from the university's board of trustees selected a site for the university on a hill above Cedar Shoals in what was then Jackson Countymarker. On July 25, John Milledge, one of the trustees and later governor of Georgia, bought 633 acres (2.6 km²) from Daniel Easley and donated it to the university. Milledge named the surrounding area Athensmarker after the city that was home to the academy of Plato and Aristotle in Greecemarker.

The first buildings on the University of Georgia campus were made from logs. The town grew as lots adjacent to the college were sold to raise money for the additional construction of the school. By the time the first class graduated from the University in 1804, Athens consisted of three homes, three stores and a few other buildings facing Front Street, now known as Broad Street. Completed in 1806 and named in honor of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin College was the University of Georgia and the City of Athens' first permanent structure. This brick building is now called Old College.

Athens officially became a town in December 1806 with a government made up of a three-member commission. The university continued to grow, as did the town, with cotton mills fueling the industrial and commercial development. Athens became known as the "Manchestermarker of the South" after the city in England known for its mills. In 1833 a group of Athens businessmen led by James Camak, tired of their wagons getting stuck in the mud, built one of Georgia's first railroads, the Georgia, connecting Athens to Augustamarker by 1841, and to Marthasville (now Atlantamarker) by 1845.

During the American Civil War, Athens became a significant supply center when the New Orleans armory was relocated to what is now the called the Chicopee building. Fortifications can still be found along parts of the North Oconee River between College and Oconee St. In addition, Athens played a small part in the ill-fated Stoneman Raid when a skirmish was fought on a site overlooking the Middle Oconee River near what is now the old Macon Highway. Like many southern towns, Athens still hosts a confederate memorial that is located on Broad St, near the University of Georgia Arch.

During Reconstruction, Athens continued to grow. The form of government changed to a mayor-council government with a new city charter on August 24, 1872 with Captain Henry Beusse as the first mayor of Athens. Henry Beusse was instrumental in the rapid growth of the city after the Civil War. After holding the position of mayor he worked in the railroad industry and helped to bring railroads to the region creating growth in many of the surrounding communities. Freed slaves moved to the city, many attracted by the new centers for education such as the Freedman's Bureau. This new population was served by three black newspapers - the Athens Blade, the Athens Clipper, and the Progressive Era.

In the 1880s as Athens became more densely populated city services and improvements were undertaken. The Athens Police Department was founded in 1881 and public schools opened in fall of 1886. Telephone service was introduced in 1882 by the Bell Telephone Company. Transportation improvements were also introduced with a street paving program beginning in 1885 and streetcars, pulled by mules, in 1888.

By its centennial in 1901, Athens was a much-changed city. A new city hall was completed in 1904. An African-American middle class and professional class had grown around the corner of Washington and Hull Streets, known as the "Hot Corner." The theater at the Morton Building hosted movies and performances by well-known black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington. In 1907 aviation pioneer Ben Epps became Georgia's first pilot on a hill outside town that would become the Athens-Ben Epps Airportmarker. Athens got its first tall building in 1908 with the seven-story Southern Mutual Insurance Company building.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy built new buildings and paved runways to serve as a training facility for naval pilots. In 1954, the U.S. Navy chose Athens as the site for the Navy Supply Corps school. The school was located in Normal Town in the buildings of the old Normal School. The school is now scheduled to be moved in 2011 under the Base Realignment and Closure process.

In 1961, Athens witnessed part of the civil rights movement when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes became the first two black students to enter the University of Georgiamarker. Three years later, Athens was witness to the murder of Lemuel Penn, who was followed out of town and murdered in Madison County near Colbert, Georgiamarker. Despite the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Courtmarker ruling in 1954, the Athens - Clarke County school district remained segregated until 1970.

Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the balance has a total area of 118.2 square miles (306.2 km²), of which, 117.8 square miles (305.0 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (0.41%) is water.



  • Legislative: The government is headed by an elected mayor and 10 elected commissioners from 8 geographical districts and 2 super-districts covering districts 1-4 and 5-8
  • Executive: The Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County's day to day operations are overseen by a manager appointed by the Mayor and Commission. There are 26 main departments, divisions and offices under the managerial group
  • Judicial: Athens-Clarke County houses Magistrate, Juvenile, Municipal, Probate, State and Superior Courts. Superior Court covers the Western Judicial Circuit, which also includes Oconee County


The Human Rights Festival, held annually, has brought in speakers and activists such as Jesse Jackson, David Dellinger and William Ayers.

The first Really Really Free Market was held April 28, 2007 as part of the May Day celebrations organized by Autonomous Athens. Since then, several more have been held.


As of the census of 2000, there were 100,266 people, 39,239 households, and 19,344 families residing in the city. The population density was 851.5 people per square mile (328.8/km²). There were 41,633 housing units at an average density of 353.6/sq mi (136.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 64.71% White, 27.37% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 3.15% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.11% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.39% of the population.

There were 39,239 households out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.3% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.7% were non-families. 29.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 31.6% from 18 to 24, 27.3% from 25 to 44, 15.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,118, and the median income for a family was $41,407. Males had a median income of $30,359 versus $23,039 for females. The per capita income for the balance was $17,103. About 15.0% of families and 28.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.2% of those under age 18 and 13.5% of those age 65 or over.


Culture coexists with the university students in creating an art scene, music scene and intellectual environment. The city has music venues, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that cater to its creative climate.

The town is home to such notable features as the only remaining one of two double barrelled cannons produced during the American Civil War, the famous "Tree That Owns Itselfmarker"-which now is an offspring of the original tree, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and the University of Georgia Campus Arboretummarker. Athens is also home to The Globe, a well-known bar voted by Esquire magazine as the third top bar in America in 2007. Athens was home to Network Translations, Inc., which produced the PIX firewall which was later purchased by Cisco Systems.

The city is home to independent publisher Hill Street Press. Authors with previous or current residence in the city include Pulitzer Prize winners Deborah Blum and Edward Larson, as well as Judith Ortiz Cofer, Reginald McKnight and Coleman Barks.

Every spring there have been a number of bicycle races collectively known as the Twilight Series. One is the Twilight Criterium. In addition to its yearly weekend of bike events, Athens has a bicycle culture, observed the first Friday of each month at Courteous Mass (sponsored by BikeAthens) and the last Friday of each month at Critical Mass (an independent gathering).

The 1940 film The Green Hand was shot in Athens, using local townspeople and students and faculty from the University of Georgiamarker as its cast. The film had its premiere in Athens in January 1940, in an event attended by Governor Eurith D. Rivers.


The Athens music scene grew in the early 1970s with Ravenstone along with the Normaltown Flyers at Allen's and later during the 1980s with the Georgia Theatremarker and 40 Watt Clubmarker as the bands R.E.M. and the B-52's scored breakout hits. The original Allen's was one of the oldest bars in Athens. It closed in 2004 and re-opened in 2007 at a new location. Other notable bands were Dreams So Real, Indigo Girls, Matthew Sweet, The Method Actors, Love Tractor, Pylon, Flat Duo Jets, The Primates, Modern Skirts, The Whigs, and Widespread Panic.

National acts that have come out of Athens include: The Whigs, Danger Mouse, Dreams So Real, alternative duo Jucifer, Vic Chesnutt, Drive-By Truckers, Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Sunshine Fix, Bubba Sparxxx, The Olivia Tremor Control, Of Montreal, Five Eight, King of Prussia, Pastor Troy, Jet by Day, Athens Boys Choir, and R.E.M. members Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Bill Berry still maintain residences in Athens.

Every Summer since 1996 the city has hosted AthFest, a non-profit music and arts festival held in the downtown area.


Athens Banner-Herald publishes daily. UGA has an independent daily newspaper, The Red and Black. Flagpole Magazine is an alternative newspaper publishing weekly.

Local radio stations include:

WGMG, WPUP, WNGC, WRFC and WGAU, the prominent local commercial radio stations, are owned by Cox Radio.

The formerly defunct station serving the Athens area—WBKZ 880 AM—now operates as a radio station with an African-American focus.

In addition, WFSH-FM 104.7 FM, a contemporary Christian music station, is licensed to Athens but based in Atlanta. Atlanta-based Rhythmic Top 40 station WBTS (95.5 The Beat) was formerly licensed to Athens (and also the former home of country station WNGC, which now broadcasts at 106.1) but has since changed its city of license to Doraville, Georgiamarker.

Athens is considered part of the Atlanta television market. However, over-the-air television reception in Athens is nearly impossible. Channel 8, WGTVmarker and channel 34, WUVGmarker are both licensed to Athens, however their transmitters are in the Atlanta metropolitan area. WGTV broadcasts from the top of Stone Mountainmarker. Moreover, because of Stone Mountain, the line of sight from other Atlanta broadcast television stations, such as WSB-TVmarker, is blocked or at least hindered. Toccoa'smarker WNEG-TVmarker is now owned by UGA, and has announced plans to add more locally-produced programming.


Public schools

Public schools are run by the Clarke County School District.

  • Elementary schools
    • Alps Road Elementary School
    • Barnett Shoals Elementary School
    • David C. Barrow Elementary School
    • Chase Street Elementary School
    • Cleveland Road Elementary School
    • Fowler Drive Elementary School
    • Gaines Elementary School
    • Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School
    • Howard B. Stroud Elementary School
    • Judia J. Harris Elementary School
    • Timothy Road Elementary School
    • Whit Davis Elementary School
    • Whitehead Road Elementary School
    • Winterville Elementary School

  • Middle schools
    • Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School
    • Clarke Middle School
    • W.R. Coile Middle School
    • Hilsman Middle School
    • SOAR Academy (Alternative Education Program)

  • High schools

Private schools

  • Athens Christian School (grades K-12)
  • Athens Montessori School (grades K-8)
  • Saint Joseph Catholic School (grades K-8)
  • Monsignor Donovan Catholic High Schoolmarker (grades 9-12)
  • Westminster Christian Academy (grades K-12)

Colleges and universities

  • The University of Georgiamarker (UGA) is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning. Founded in 1785, it was the first state-chartered university in the United States.

  • Athens Technical College is a TCSG public college in Athens, Georgia. It offers certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees in business, health, technical, and manufacturing-related fields.

  • Piedmont Collegemarker is a private liberal arts institution founded in 1897 to serve residents of the Appalachian area of northeast Georgia, USA.




The city is the focus of U.S. Highways 29, 78, 129, Georgia 72, and 441, and near the eastern terminus of Georgia 316 and the southern terminus of State Route 106. The Georgia State Route 10 Loop serves as a limited access perimeter. The city is bisected East to West by Broad St/Atlanta Highway and North-South by Milledge Avenue. College Station Rd and Gaines School Rd are major thoroughfares on the east side of Athens. Lumpkin St, Prince Ave, North Ave, and Oconee St are major thoroughfares radiating from Downtown .


Athens Transit provides intracity transit 7 days per week. UGA Campus Transit provides fare-free transit around the University of Georgia campus and Milledge Avenue. Southeastern Stages, a subsidiary of Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus services.


Athens has no direct passenger rail service. Freight service is provided by CSX and Athens Line. The Georgia Department of Transportation has proposed the city as the terminus of a commuter line that links Atlantamarker and Gwinnett County along the Georgia 316 corridor.


Athens is served by Athens-Ben Epps Airportmarker. Currently, only Georgia Skies provides commercial air service. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airportmarker is also a primary point of departure and arrival for Athens.


Athens encourages use of alternative transportation. Bike lanes are provided on major thoroughfares. A rail-to-trail redevelopment is being considered to connect Downtown with the East-Side. Organizations such as BikeAthens support and encourage biking. Skateboarding and small scooters are also common sights around UGA campus and Downtown.


Athens electricity utility is provided directly by Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company. Water utility is provided by the city. Garbage is provided by private companies according to customer purchase, though the city does offer municipal garbage pick up as a service.

Sister cities

Notable residents and natives


  1. Athens-Clarke County Unification History
  2. U.S. Whitehouse OMB Bulletin No. 05-02 Appendix (Code 12020*)
  3. [1]
  4. Athens' "Really Really Free Market"
  5. Best Bars - Esquire
  6. [2]
  7. AthFest 2009 Fact Sheet
  15. Internet Movie Database - Jeff Daniels
  16. Major League Baseball - Brian McCann

External links

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