Martha's Bird Of Fire
(Created for the Polaris Lounge/Hyatt Regency/Downtown Atlanta)
Atlanta began as a railroad settlement and was originally referred to as "Terminus", which literally means "the end of the line". The zero mile post for the Western and Atlantic Railroad was driven into the ground in 1837 near present day Five Points.
In 1843, this area which had been informally named Terminus was officially incorporated as "Marthasville" at the request of the current Governor of Georgia, Wilson Lumpkin, in honor of his daughter Martha Atalanta. In 1845, the chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad recommended the name be changed to "Atlantica-Pacifica". Finally, by 1847, his suggestion had been shortened to "Atlanta" and was popular among residents. It was soon adopted as the official name.
In 1864, during the Civil War, Atlanta was burned to the ground and left in ashes during General Sherman's "March to the Sea". It is the only city in North America that has been destroyed by fire as an act of war. After the war, Atlanta took on the "phoenix" as its official symbol, in reference to the legendary bird in Egyptian mythology that was consumed by fire and rose from its own ashes with renewed strength and beauty.