Athens, Georgia

Athens, Georgia

In the northeast of Georgia, about 100 kilometers from Atlanta, lies Athens, a city that is known far beyond the southern states. There are two main reasons for this: First, Athens is home to the University of Georgia, one of the country’s oldest and largest universities, with a well-known football team. On the other hand, the city with around 125,000 inhabitants is considered the home of several well-known rock bands, including the most well-known, REM.

Athens was built from an end of the 18th century trading post on the banks of the Oconee River. Here already in 1785 the license for the establishment of a state university was awarded. The University of Georgia is thus not only the center of the city in many ways, but also its nucleus. It was not until 1806 that the still small town received the city charter and soon thereafter followed faster growth, mainly thanks to the successful cultivation of cotton in the region. Although Athens was an important supply base for the Southern Army during the Civil War, it did not suffer any setback after the defeat of the Confederates, but continued to develop. In 1991, the merger of the previously 45,000 inhabitants city with the surrounding area became an administrative unit, which more than doubled the number of inhabitants.

More recently, Athens has made a name for itself as a city of music. From the 1950s, a local rock music scene developed. This is partly due to the relatively young population, thanks to the University, to another part of the existence of music clubs and theaters such as the 40 Watt Club (285 West Washington Street), the Georgia Theater (215 North Lumpkin Street) or the meantime Allen’s. The most famous representatives of the music scene in Athens are REM and the B-52’s, but other music genres, including bluegrass and country, also have a home in the city. According to the musical tradition, several festivals are held throughout the year, including the multi-day AthFest in June. The city is also home to a symphony orchestra.

There is even more culture at the Georgia Museum of Art (90 Carlton Street), which is part of the University and displays not only American painting, but also a noteworthy selection of works from the Italian Renaissance. Another major attraction is the State Botanical Garden (2450 South Milledge Avenue), also affiliated with the University of Georgia. Here, a network of approximately five kilometers of walking paths leads through the various areas, including a section of endangered plant species. Around another plant in the city, a legend entwines. At the corner of Finley and Dearing Street stands an oak tree known as the Tree That Owns Itself. According to tradition, the tree is supposed to be the heir of the small property on which it stands and thus, so to speak, belongs to itself. The origins of the story go back to the 16th century; the tree to be found today is the “son” of the original Tree That Owns Itself originating from an acorn of the original. Another attraction in the city is a double-barreled cannon from the time of the American Civil War, which can be found in front of the city hall, but never really been in operation.

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Christina Cherry
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