Atlanta: Atalanta or Atlantic

So after reading a post about the Greek mythological figure Atalanta, I got to wondering about the origins of the name of our fair city.

We have two conflicting accounts:

Wikipedia #1:

The U.S. city of Atlanta was named after Atalanta, via Martha Atalanta Lumpkin Compton, daughter of the governor of Georgia. The HMS Atalanta was also named for Atalanta.

Wikipedia #2:

Atlanta is derived from Atlas, a character in Greek mythology (and not the heroine Atalanta, as is often mistakenly assumed). Most cities or towns named ‘Atlanta’ are named after the Atlantic Ocean or some entity referencing the Atlantic Ocean, as in the case of Atlanta, Georgia, which was named for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which in turn was named for the Atlantic Ocean.

So which is it?

Any budding historians or bloggers not afraid to call the state capital or county seat want to shed some light on this quandary?

Should I believe this?

Comments are welcome.

8 Comments so far

  1. George Burdell (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 11:50 am

    Originally Terminus, the name of the city was changed to ‘Marthasville’ after Governor Lumpkin’s daughter (which cast doubt over the wikipdeia #1).

    Some citizens thought marthasville too long, and the name was changed to Atlanta around 1845.

    I have heard that the name was a shortened version of ‘Atlantica-Pacifica’.

  2. Greg Mohler (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

    I almost prefer Terminus myself. It sounds very city-of-the-future. It also comes with a built-in slogan: “Terminus: we’re the end of the line.” Heh.

  3. griftdrift (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

    The most common explanation is it’s named after the Western and Atlantic.

  4. native (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 3:01 pm

    in the 8th grade, in my GA History class, we were taught that it was renamed Atlanta in honor of Gov. Lumpkin’s daughter…

  5. barbecuesteve (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

    “Dissatisfaction with the name Marthasville developed rapidly. Too long and unwieldy; too provincial, were the chief objections. So, two years after its adoption in 1843 the Town of Marthasville gave way to the Town of Atlanta in late 1845. The name, a coined word, supposedly the feminine of “Atlantic,” was suggested by J. Edgar Thomson, then chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad. He subsequently became president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Thomson, Georgia, bears his name.”

    – Franklin M. Garrett, “A Vignette History of Atlanta”, 1971.

  6. runcible (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

    My God, people, let’s not be a complete bunch of ignoramuses, ok? Everyone knows Atlanta was named after the atlatl.

    (For the terminally ignorant:

  7. Peter (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

    There are these history signs in Atlanta… This one talks about the different names, but doesn’t say where “Atlanta” itself came from:

  8. Seth (unregistered) on February 5th, 2007 @ 2:19 pm

    I’m still confused. We still seem to have two potential lineages for the name Atlanta.

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