50 States, 50 State Capitols. Ruth & I have now toured 25. We weren’t especially interested in doing this until we traveled with Australian friends John & Trish, who were interested. The first capitol we visited with them, Utah’s, remains the most impressive. The last one we toured, Georgia’s, was among the less impressive.
The problems with Georgia’s. First, there is only one guided tour each day at 11:30 am. We tried twice to join it but failed. There is, however, a self-guided tour. Second, there is no place to park other than on the street and spaces are hard to find since the Capitol is just south of downtown and near Georgia State University. Third, parking in the area is a bit risky. Some unsavory characters seemed very interested in our car until we talked to security. After going through a detecting device to enter, we asked the guard about safety and he told us that recently a car had been stolen in the area and another broken into.
Once inside, visitors are directed to begin in the Capitol Museum on the 4th floor, which has presented exhibits on Georgia’s natural and cultural resources since 1890. This consists of many items, like a two-headed cow, and frank, often quirky historical information displayed in old-fashioned wood and glass cases. I read that the Museum was refreshed in the late 1990s, but it doesn’t look it.
Now the perks. Georgia has a rather colorful history and a lot of what I saw and read about was pretty interesting. The Cherokee rose is the state flower, the right whale is Georgia’s marine mammal, and the Vidalia onion is its state vegetable. In 1943 Georgia became the first state to lower the voting age to 18. In 1957 there were only 3 Republicans in its entire legislature of 56 Senators and 180 Representatives. As the 20th century dawned, the Democratic Party established rules that allowed only whites to vote in primary elections. The political landscape changed. Since January 2005, Republicans have been in the majority in both chambers. When controversial Governor Eugene Talmadge died in 1946, political scandal ensued with 3 legitimate claimants for the office. When a University of Georgia football player suffered a fatal brain concussion during a game, the General Assembly passed a bill outlawing football at all state institutions. The boy’s mother begged the Governor not to sign the bill. The year was 1897.
Among the displays are tributes to Miss Freedom, Jimmy Carter, Margaret Mitchell, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who grew up less than 2 miles from this building and went to Atlanta’s Morehouse College. When his funeral procession passed this Capitol, it was surrounded by state troopers ordered by Governor Lester Maddox.
Atlanta was Georgia’s 5th capital. Prominent Atlantans encouraged moving it from Milledgeville to torched Atlanta to promote rebuilding after the Civil War. This building opened in 1889 and still looks pretty much the way it did way back then.