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Macon, GA (Population: 97,255)

Macon, one of the largest metropolitan areas in Georgia, is centrally located approximately 75 miles south of Atlanta, which gave it the nickname "Heart of Georgia. In its early days, the city thrived due to its location on the Ocmulgee River, and cotton became the mainstay of Macon's early economy. Cotton boats, stage coaches, and in 1843 a railroad, all brought economic prosperity to Macon.

Macon lies on the site of the Ocmulgee Old Fields, which were home to Creek Indians and their predecessors for as many as 12,000 years before Europeans arrived. The fields and forests around Macon and what is now the Ocmulgee National Monument were cultivated by the Creeks, who built temple and funeral mounds that still exist today.

Today, with an estimated 97,255 residents, Macon is an integral contributor to the economy of the area with Robins Air Force Base being a major employer. The area is also home to several institutions of higher education, as well as numerous museums and tourism sites. In 1836, Wesleyan College, the oldest women's college in the world, was founded in Macon.

Macon is also the home of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, which celebrates the great influence Macon natives have had on music throughout the years-- especially Southern rock in the 1960's, with the establishment of Macon native Phil Walden's Capricorn Record and The Allman Brothers Band. Other notable musicians include Mark Heard, Lucille Hegamin, Lena Horne, Otis Redding, and Little Richard, as well as more recent names like violinist Robert McDuffie, rapper Young Jeezy, and country artist Jason Aldean. The kazoo was also invented in the city during the 1840s.

Today, the city remains the cultural hub of Middle Georgia, hosting the Macon Symphony Orchestra, which performs at the historic Grand Opera House in downtown Macon, as well as a youth symphony, the Middle Georgia Concert Band, and numerous other groups, many associated with the local universities.

The city also hosts several festivals and events like the International Cherry Blossom Festival, First Night Macon, the Pan African Festival, Ocmulgee Indian Celebration, and The Georgia State Fair. Attractions in the area to be appreciated by visitors and residents include Fort Hawkins, the Macon City Auditorium, and the Cox Capitol Theater. Other areas of interest are the Ocmulgee National Monument, Rose Hill Cemetery, the Harriet Tubman African-American Museum, Waddell Barnes Botanical Gardens, Hay House, Sidney Lanier Cottage, Neel Reid Federated Garden Club Center, Cannonball House and Civil War Museum, Woodruff House, Douglass Theatre, The Grand Opera House, Museum of Arts and Sciences and Planetarium, and the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail.