Local city information for Macon, GA
() is a city located in central Georgia, USA. It is among the largest metropolitan areas in Georgia, and the county seat of Bibb County. A small portion of the city extends into Jones County. It lies near the geographic center of Georgia, approximately 85 miles (136 km) south of Atlanta, hence the city's nickname as the Heart of Georgia
. As of the 2000 census, Macon had a population of 97,606; as of 2007, the Macon, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area had an estimated population of 229,846 and the Macon-Warner Robins-Fort Valley Combined Statistical Area had an estimated population of 386,534. In terms of population Macon is the ninth-largest city (just after Sandy Springs), fifth-largest Metropolitan Statistical Area, and fifth-largest Combined Statistical Area in Georgia. Macon-Warner Robins-Fort Valley, GA Combined Statistical Area (CSA) includes 13 Georgia counties.
Robins Air Force Base, a major employer, is south of the city in Warner Robins. The area is also home to several institutions of higher education, as well as numerous museums and tourism sites. The area is served by the Middle Georgia Regional Airport and the Herbert Smart Downtown Airport. The current mayor of Macon is Robert Reichert, a former Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Perhaps its most colorful mayor with national recognition was Ronnie Thompson, who served from 1967-1975 and was the first of thus far two Republicans to have held the position, the other being George Israel (1979-1987).
Macon lies on the site of the Ocmulgee Old Fields, which were home to Creek Indians and their predecessors for as long as 12,000 years before Europeans arrived. The fields and forests around Macon and what is now the Ocmulgee National Monument were cultivated by the Creeks, who built temple and funeral mounds that survive today.
Prior to its establishment as a city, Macon was the site of Fort Benjamin Hawkins. After the Creeks ceded their lands east of the Ocmulgee River, President Thomas Jefferson ordered the fort built in 1806 on the fall line of the Ocmulgee River to protect the new frontier, as it was a major military distribution point during the War of 1812 and the Creek War of 1813. Afterward, the fort became a trading post for a few more years before it fell to disuse and burned to the ground. A replica of the fort, however, stands today on a hill in east Macon. By this time, many settlers had already begun to move into the area and later renamed Fort Hawkins “Newtown.” After the establishment of Bibb County in 1822, the city was chartered as the county seat in 1823 and officially named Macon, in honor of North Carolina statesman Nathaniel Macon because many of the city's early settlers hailed from North Carolina. The city planners of Macon envisioned "a city within a park" and went about creating a city of spacious streets and parks. They also designated 250 acres (1 km2
) for Central City Park and citizens were required by ordinances to plant shade trees in their front yards.
The city thrived due to its location on the Ocmulgee River and cotton became the mainstay of Macon's early economy. Cotton boats, stage coaches, and later, in 1843, a railroad all brought economic prosperity to Macon. In 1836, Wesleyan College, the oldest women's college in the world, was founded in Macon. In 1855 a referendum was held to determine a capital city for Georgia. Macon came in last with 3,802 votes .
During the American Civil War, Macon served as the official arsenal of the Confederacy. Camp Oglethorpe, in Macon, was used first as a prison for captured officers and enlisted, then for officers only, up to 2,300 at one time. The camp was evacuated in 1864.
Macon City Hall, which would serve as the temporary state capitol in 1864, was converted to use as a hospital for the wounded. However, Macon was spared by General William Tecumseh Sherman on his march to the sea. The nearby state capital of Milledgeville had been sacked and Maconites prepared for an attack. But General Sherman feared that Confederate forces were preparing a unified attack of their own and therefore bypassed Macon. Throughout the era of Reconstruction and into the twentieth century, Macon grew into a prospering town in Middle Georgia, and began to serve as a transportation hub for the entire state.
In 1994 Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall in Florida dumping 24" inches of rain resulting in major flooding in Georgia. Macon was one of the worst flooded cities,
Macon was famous for being the home of the murderess Anjette Lyles, as well as alleged axe murderer Thomas Woolfolk.
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