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Augusta, GA (Population: 190,782)

Augusta is located on the Georgia/South Carolina border, about 150 miles east of Atlanta. It is the second largest city and second largest metropolitan area in the state with an estimated 190,782 residents. The official nickname of Augusta is The Garden City.

With the establishment of the Augusta Canal, Augusta became a leader in the production of textiles, gunpowder, and paper. The Georgia Railroad was built by local contractors Fannin, Grant & Co in 1845, giving Augusta a rail link to Atlanta, which connected to the Tennessee River at Chattanooga, Tennessee, providing access to the Mississippi River. The cost-savings of this link from the middle of the country to the Atlantic Ocean via the Savannah River increased trade considerably.

Today, the region's largest employers include the Savannah River Nuclear Facility (a Department of Energy holding), Fort Gordon and the U.S. Army Signal Center, and the Medical College of Georgia. The city's famous golf course, the Augusta National Golf Club, hosts The Masters, which is the first major golf tournament of each year.

Augusta is the birthplace of the Southern Baptist denomination, and the location of Springfield Baptist Church, the oldest autonomous African-American Baptist church in the nation. The American Civil Rights Movement touched Augusta as it did the rest of the United States. In 1961, soul musician Ray Charles canceled a scheduled performance at the Bell Auditorium when he learned that the black attendees would be segregated from the whites and forced to sit in the balcony. A few days after the Kent State shootings and Jackson State killings in May 1970, six African-American students were shot in the back for looting by police for civil rights demonstrations. Racial tensions flared into a full blown riot with many buildings being set on fire.

Beginning in the late 1970s, businesses started leaving downtown Augusta for suburban shopping malls. That started a trend of urban abandonment and decay. To counter this trend, city politicians and business leaders promoted revitalizing Augusta's riverfront into a beautiful Riverwalk with parks, an amphitheater, hotels, museums, and art galleries. To further support the city's renewal, members of the art community and downtown booster organizations started a monthly event called First Friday, which features local bands, street performers, and art galleries that stay open late into the evening.

Other historical landmarks and areas of interest in the city are the Augusta Canal, the Augusta Museum of History, the Augusta National Golf Club, Confederate Powderworks, Clarks Hill Lake, Enterprise Mill, Fort Discovery, Fort Gordon, Haunted Pillar, the Augusta-Richmond County James Brown Arena, the Lake Olmstead Stadium, the Lamar Building, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, the Morris Museum of Art, the PDGA National Disc Golf Center, and Sconyers Barbecue.