Now Georgia’s fourth-largest city, Macon’s humble beginnings were laid as a trading post between frontier settlers and Native Americans. Incorporated in 1823, the city played a major role in Southern history, serving as a military base during the Civil War. Later, in the 20th century it became a launching pad for music legends like Lena Horne, Otis Redding, and the Allman Brothers Band. Today, modern shopping centers, a good educational system, and a host of outdoor attractions add to Macon’s historic appeal.
Located in the middle of the Peach State, Macon is known as the Heart of Georgia, but the region was a center for culture long before European settlers came to the area. The ancient civilizations built ceremonial earthwork mounds in the region thousands of years ago, and the Muskogee Creek Nation lived in the area well into the 18th century. Fort Benjamin Hawkins was the first major structure built in the city. It was destroyed by fire in the late 1820s. Efforts to reconstruct Fort Hawkins as the official birthplace of Macon are now underway.
The railroad reached Macon in 1843, which increased the city’s capability to export its chief crop: cotton. Although Macon served as an arsenal and prison during the Civil War, the city escaped the destruction experienced by other Southern towns. Antebellum homes, churches and other important structures from the era survived and still exist today, including the beautifully designed Italian Renaissance Revival mansion, the Hay House.
Macon lies on the edge of Georgia’s Fall Line, the point where the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau meet an ancient coastal plain. Situated on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, Macon’s geography contributed significantly to Macon’s early economic success as a transportation hub. The area’s swift-moving rivers also provided hydro-power for the region’s textile mills.
With a subtropical climate, weather in Macon is moderate year round. Winter lows range from 30 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and summer highs fluctuate between 70 and 90 degrees. January and February are the coldest months, and while heavy snowfall is rare, the city has received as much as 10 inches of snow in some winter seasons.
Macon’s population swelled to more than 155,000 after consolidating with Bibb County in 2012. The city is unique in that it has ten female residents for every eight males. The median age is 34 years. Thirty percent of the city’s approximately 38,000 households have children, and around 33 percent of the households are married couples. The average household size is between two and three people.
Macon’s early city planners required residents to plant shade trees along the city’s spaciously designed streets, including a large number of cherry trees. The annual International Cherry Blossom Festival attracts visitors from all over the state. Other must-see Macon attractions include:
- The Ocmulgee National Monument where visitors can explore the area’s 17,000-year history
- The life-size Otis Redding Statue in Charles H. Jones Gateway Park
- The Cannonball House and Museum, the only home struck by a cannonball during the Civil War
- The Museum of Arts and Sciences, the only museum in Georgia dedicated to both art and science
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