The history of Athens began with The University of Georgia. The university was the first chartered state-supported university and was started in 1801. 633 acres of land was donated by John Milledge and Mr. Milledge named the land Athens in honor of the Greek city that was the center of culture and learning during ancient times.
In December 1806, Athens was officially incorporated. As UGA began to grow in reputation, commerce and industry, mainly from the cotton mills, increased. The original county seat for Clarke County was Watkinsville and was moved to Athens in 1871. In 1875, Oconee County was formed (by taking a portion of land from Clarke County) and Watkinsville became its county seat.
In the mid-1960s, the first movement for consolidating Athens and Clarke County began but the unification referendum didn’t pass until 1990.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the Athens music scene began to grow, and Athens was recognized worldwide as a hotbed for music. A few notable musicians and bands who got their start in Athens include REM, B52s, Packway Handle Band, Driveby Truckers, Randall Bramlett, John Berry and many others.
Today Athens continues to be known for the lively music scene at venues including the Georgia Theater, The Classic Center, Foundry, 40 Watt, and many local bars in the downtown area. Also contributing to the popularity of Athens is many local restaurants that have received great reviews. A few of our favorites are DePalmas Italian Cafe, The National, Tlaloc, Five and Ten, The Grit, Royal Peasant, Pulaski Heights BBQ and Saucehouse BBQ. Terrapin Beer, Creature Comforts Brewery, Copper Creek Brewing and Southern Brewing (opening spring 2016) are well known local breweries.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Georgia Museum of Art are favorite attractions to visit in Athens.
Check out this historical timeline for Athens: