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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Marietta, Georgia

Cobb County courthouse in Marietta
Cobb County courthouse in Marietta

Marietta is located in central Cobb County, Georgia, United States, and is the county's seat and largest city.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 56,579, making it one of the Atlanta metropolitan area's largest suburbs. Marietta is the fourth largest of the principal cities (by population) of the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area.



The origin of the name is uncertain. It is believed that the city was named for Mary Cobb, the wife of U.S. Senator and Superior Court judge Thomas Willis Cobb. Judge Cobb is the namesake of the county.

Early Settlers:

Homes were built by early settlers near the Cherokee town of Big Shanty (now Kennesaw) prior to 1824.

The first plat was laid out in 1833. Like most towns, Marietta had a square in the center with a courthouse. The Georgia General Assembly legally recognized the community on December 19, 1834.

Built in 1838, Oakton House is the oldest continuously occupied residence in Marietta. The original barn, milk house, smokehouse, and wellhouse remain on the property. The spectacular gardens contain the boxwood parterre from the 1870's. Oakton served as Major General Loring's headquarters during the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864.

Marietta was initially selected as the hub for the new Western and Atlantic Railroad, and business boomed. By 1838, roadbed and trestles had been built north of the city. However, in 1840, political wrangling stopped construction for a time. In 1842, the railroad's new management decided to move the hub from Marietta to an area that would become Atlanta. Nonetheless, in 1850, when the railroad began operation, Marietta shared in the resulting prosperity.

Businessman and politician John Glover arrived in 1848. A popular figure, Glover was elected mayor when the city incorporated in 1852. Another early resident was Dr. Carey Cox, who promoted a "water cure", which developed into a spa that attracted patients to the area. The Cobb County Medical Society recognizes him as the county's first physician.

The Georgia Military Institute was built in 1851, and the first bank opened in 1855. During the 1850's, fire destroyed much of the city on three separate occasions.

Civil War:

By the time the Civil War began in 1861, Marietta had recovered from the fires.

Historic Kennesaw House

In April 1862, James Andrews, a civilian working with the Union Army, came to Marietta, along with a small party of Union soldiers dressed in civilian clothing. The group spent the night in the Fletcher House hotel (later known as the Kennesaw House and now the home of the Marietta Museum of History) located immediately in front of the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Andrews and his men, who later became known as the Andrews Raiders, planned to seize a train and proceed north toward the city of Chattanooga, destroying the railroad on their way. They hoped, in so doing, to isolate Chattanooga from Atlanta and bring about the downfall of the Confederate stronghold. The Raiders boarded a waiting train on the morning of April 12, 1862, along with other passengers. Shortly thereafter, the train made a scheduled stop in the town of Big Shanty, now known as Kennesaw. When the other passengers got off the train for breakfast, Andrews and the Raiders stole the engine and the car behind it, which carried the fuel. The engine, called The General, and Andrews' Raiders had begun the episode now known as the Great Locomotive Chase.

Andrews and the Raiders failed in their mission. Andrews and all of his men were caught within two weeks, including two men who had arrived late and missed the hijacking. All were tried as spies, convicted, and hanged.

General William Tecumseh Sherman invaded the town during the Atlanta Campaign in the summer of 1864. In November 1864, General Hugh Kilpatrick set the town ablaze, the first strike in Sherman's March to the Sea. Sherman's troops crossed the Chattahoochee River at a shallow section known as the Palisades, after burning the Marietta Paper Mills near the mouth of Sope Creek.

Ruins of the paper mill at Sope Creek

One of the few houses left standing, the Marietta Hotel, was later burned by the town residents who found out the owner of the building had been a Yankee spy during the Civil War.

The Marietta Confederate Cemetery, with the graves of over 3,000 Confederate soldiers killed during the Battle of Atlanta, is located in the city.

In 1892, the city established a public school system. It included a high school for white students and a separate high school for blacks.

20th Century:

Mary Phagan
Leo Frank was lynched at 1200 Roswell Road just east of Marietta on August 17, 1915. Frank, a Jewish-American engineer and superintendent of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, had been convicted on August 25, 1913, for the murder of one of his factory workers, 13-year-old Mary Phagan. The murder and trial, sensationalized in the local press, portrayed Frank as depraved, and captured the public's attention. Raised in New York, Frank was also vilified as a representative of northern capitalism. An eleventh-hour commutation of Frank's death sentence to life imprisonment created great local outrage. A mob, systematically organized for the purpose, abducted Frank from prison, drove him to Marietta, and lynched him. The ring leaders of the abduction included past, current, and future, elected local, county and state officials. There were two state legislators, the mayor, a former governor, a clergyman, two former Superior Court justices, and an ex-sheriff. The Frank case drew attention to antisemitism in the United States and led to the founding of the Anti-Defamation League. Phagan was buried at the Marietta City Cemetery, while Frank was buried in Queens, New York.

In 1942, Eddie Rickenbacker visited the area in order to decide where to place a Bell Bomber Plant. Marietta was chosen. The plant eventually became Lockheed Martin.

In the late 1960's, an amendment was passed to the Georgia State Constitution, giving home rule to the 159 counties in Georgia. Led by Ernest Barrett, the first county commission voted to demolish the historic county courthouse, which was located on the northeast corner of Roswell Street (former GA 120) and East Park Square (former GA 5) since 1888. This loss is now regarded as one of the county's biggest mistakes, and state law now requires a county-wide referendum before destroying historic county courthouses. Other historic buildings, such as the Works Progress Administration building, were also torn down at the time. The Glover Locomotive Works, which had been abandoned, was also torn down in the late 1990's despite its historic significance (although it was just outside city limits). As of 2010, another courthouse is under construction for the superior courts, adapting some minor design elements of the demolished courthouse.
Incorporated in 1993, Theatre in the Square was a year-round professional theater, that produced a five-show subscription season as well as summer and holiday shows. It ceased operations in 2012.
The city constructed and operated Marietta FiberNet, a fiber optic network for about $35 million in the late 1990's. In 2004, it sold the network to American Fiber Systems for $11 million.


F-22 Raptor at Lockheed Martin in Marietta
Dobbins Air Reserve Base on the south side of town and a Lockheed Martin manufacturing plant are among the major industries in the city. The Lockheed Georgia Employees Credit Union, is based in Marietta.
The dental provider company Kool Smiles has its headquarters in the Kool Smiles Patient Support Center in Marietta. An Online Trading Academy center is also located in Marietta.


Historic Downtown Square
The city has six historic districts, some on the National Register of Historic Places. A seventh, along Kennesaw Avenue, is proving more controversial, and is still being considered as of March 2010. The city's welcome center is located in the historic train depot.

Downtown is the town square and former location of the county courthouse. The square is the site of several cultural productions and public events, including a weekly farmers' market.

The Marietta Players perform semi-professional theater year round. The Strand Theatre has been renovated back to its original design and features classic films and other events.

The Marietta Museum of History exhibits the history of the city and county. The museum is home to thousands of artifacts including items from Marietta residents and businesses. The Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum, also called "Scarlett on the Square", houses a collection of memorabilia related to Gone with the Wind, both the book and the film.


The Big Chicken is a landmark on U.S. 41.

Miramax Films and Disney filmed scenes of the 1995 movie Gordy here.

The CSX freight trains between Atlanta and Chattanooga (Western & Atlantic Subdivision) still run a block west of the town square, past the train depot (now the Visitor Center) and the Kennesaw House, one of only four buildings in Marietta not burned to the ground in Sherman's March to the Sea. The Kennesaw House is home to the Marietta Museum of History which tells the history of Marietta and Cobb County.


The restaurant was built in 1956 at 12 Cobb Parkway, on the newly constructed stretch of Highway 41, the first divided highway in Cobb County. Taking advantage of the prime location on the new and quicker route for travelers on U.S. 41, Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck and Shake owner S. R. "Tubby" Davis erected the 56-foot (17-meter) tall structure over his restaurant in 1963 as a method of advertising. The novelty architecture was designed by Hubert Puckett, a Georgia Tech student of architecture, and fabricated by Atlantic Steel in nearby Atlanta (of which Marietta is a suburb). Davis later sold it to his brother, and it became a franchise of KFC.

In January 1993, storm winds damaged the structure, and rather than tear it down KFC was forced by public outcry to re-erect the building. Among those who complained about the Big Chicken being torn down were pilots, who actually used the building as a reference point when approaching Atlanta and Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The new Big Chicken even includes the original design of beak and eyes which move, although this time the vibrations which plagued the first structure (even to the point of breaking windows) have been eliminated. Pieces of the original structure were sold to collectors as souvenirs. In early April 2006, the structure narrowly escaped a small eastward-moving nighttime tornado, which overturned a tractor-trailer at a retail center across the street, and damaged another building nearby.

The Big Chicken is commonly used as a landmark for driving directions. Locals will often include "make a [turn] at the Big Chicken", or "it's about x miles past the Big Chicken". This is referenced in music video game Rock Band 3's "Road Challenge Mode", when the player is told "Don't be alarmed if you're asking for directions in the bus and the locals tell you to "turn left at the Big Chicken".

It has also led to a small cottage industry of sorts, selling souvenirs emblazoned with the monument, including one sweatshirt showing Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, and of course, the Big Chicken in Marietta. A board game featuring the Big Chicken and other local landmarks was also produced. There was also a comedy group Big Chicken Chorus in the 1990's, which produced albums called Poultry In Motion and We Need a Little Christmas. The Big Chicken was also featured on a promotional card in Sim City: The Card Game. The Big Chicken has also appeared in the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead as a part of artist Bill Griffith's fascination with roadside icons, such as West Hollywood's "Tail o' the Pup", and the ubiquitous "Muffler Man" who was used to hold full-sized car mufflers, giant hot dogs, tires, or other items promoting various roadside businesses.

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