Athens History

A Brief History of Athens

  • The county’s namesake, Elijah Clarke, is most known for his influence and efforts to form treaties between settlers and the Cherokee and Creek Indian tribes. 
  • The University of Georgia was chartered by the state of Georgia in 1785 and became the birthplace for higher education.
  • The City of Athens was incorporated on December 8, 1806, a few years after the University of Georgia commenced classes in 1801. The city was respectfully named in honor of the center of intellectual wealth that had been the heart of classical Greece. 
  • The cultural and social life surrounding the college began to attract families of prosperity and national stature. At that time, industry rapidly grew, primarily that of cotton, brickworks, textile mills, and railroad transportation.
  • The Athens Street Railway Company was founded in 1870. 
  • The school systems of the city and county consolidated in 1955, and the municipal and county governments followed suit on August 7, 1990, after several attempts over a 20-year span.