Nationwide, towns and cities are putting themselves on the map and striving to remain top of mind with business, industry and tourism. Consider New York: The Big Apple and Los Angeles: The City of Angels. While not at first familiar nicknames, consistent marketing helped these monikers take hold and stick.
Georgia has its own famously nicknamed towns and cities, some more recognizable than others including Athens: The Classic City, Claxton: The Fruitcake Capital of the World, and multiple Peanut Capitals in the cities of Ashburn, Blakely and Sylvester. As municipalities choose taglines and branding to market themselves, town nicknames continue to surface. Some are named for flowers, others for industry and still others for historic connections.
Arcade, Jackson County—The Encore Azalea City
By planting dozens of Encore Azaleas in its city park and around city hall, Arcade has rebranded itself the Encore Azalea City. It celebrates each year with an arts and crafts festival.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2009, the city of Arcade looked to its city shield that bears a sheaf of wheat, a schoolhouse, a biplane and an azalea branch. “It seemed most logical to brand ourselves with the azalea, but with a twist,” said Arcade Mayor Doug Haynie. “We approached the Encore Azalea developers to assist us with branding Arcade the Encore Azalea City and we initially planted about 100 Encores around city hall and in our city park. We have added even more azaleas to our landscape over the years and also encourage our citizens to plant them on their own property.”
In 2009, the city hosted the first Arcade Encore Azalea Festival with arts and crafts, music and food. It’s now held annually on the fourth Saturday of April each year to commemorate the town’s history and the beauty of the azaleas.
Elberton, Elbert County—The Granite Capital of the World
As the Granite Capital of the World, the city of Elberton’s granite quarries produce a significant amount of the world’s granite for headstones and memorials.
Situated on one of the world’s largest veins of granite, the city of Elberton has been known since the late 1800s as the Granite Capital of the World. “More than 40 active companies in this area basically use the same processes as 120 years ago to quarry the Georgia Blue/Gray granite from here,” said President of the Elberton Granite Association Chris Kubas. “The vein is 35 miles long, 6 to 10 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet deep, and it has some of the most consistent color and grain structure in the world. It’s very well suited for the memorial and headstone industry and is shipped around the world.”
The granite business in Elberton supports nearly 150 companies and more than 2,500 employees, making it a significant economic driver for the region. Nearby, the mysterious Georgia Guidestones, a modern Stonehenge of sorts that was commissioned by a Mr. Christian in the late 1970s, brings tourists from around the world to marvel at the structure and make their own guesses about its meaning.
Darien, McIntosh County—Hidden Gem of the Golden Isles
When most people think of Georgia’s coast, the names Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Brunswick and Tybee Island are top of mind. However, as the second-oldest planned city in Georgia, Darien has a firm place in history. After James Oglethorpe designed Savannah, he journeyed south to Darien. Its six historic squares are smaller than those of Savannah, but nonetheless bear Oglethorpe’s vision. Its downtown walking tour highlights the town’s design.
Darien is also the site of Georgia’s first fort, Fort King George. “We are somewhat hidden between these other cities,” said Executive Director of the McIntosh-Darien Chamber of Commerce Mandy Harrison. “Indeed, we are the hidden gem of the Golden Isles, and we have a great deal going on here.”
Georgia is filled with charming, quaint and interesting towns and cities that have special stories to tell. A quick search of the Internet turns up a long list of options, some steeped in history, others based on agriculture, the arts or the economy.