The Albany, Georgia Government Center
The Albany, Georgia Government Center
Flag of Albany
Official seal of Albany
Official logo of Albany
The Good Life City, The Artesian City, Egypt of America
"There's only one Albany, Georgia"
Location in Dougherty County and Georgia
Location in Dougherty County and Georgia
Albany is located in Georgia
Albany is located in the United States
Albany is located in North America
Coordinates: 31°34′56″N 84°9′56″W / 31.58222°N 84.16556°W / 31.58222; -84.16556
CountryUnited States
Incorporated (city)December 27, 1838; 185 years ago (1838-12-27)
 • MayorBo Dorough
 • City55.83 sq mi (144.59 km2)
 • Land55.06 sq mi (142.62 km2)
 • Water0.76 sq mi (1.98 km2)
203 ft (62 m)
 • City68,089
 • Density1,264.84/sq mi (488.35/km2)
 • Urban
 • Metro
146,961 (US:289 List of Metropolitan Statistical Areas)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
31701, 31705, 31707, 31721, 31763
Area code229
FIPS code13-01052[2]
GNIS feature ID0310424[3]

Albany (/ɔːlˈbɪni/ awl-BI-nee) is a city in the U.S. state of Georgia. Located on the Flint River, it is the seat of Dougherty County, and is the sole incorporated city in that county. Located in Southwest Georgia,[4] it is the principal city of the Albany metropolitan area. The city's population was 68,089 in 2020.[5]

It became prominent in the nineteenth century as a shipping and market center, first served by riverboats. Scheduled steamboats connected Albany with the busy port of Apalachicola, Florida. They were replaced by railroads. Seven lines met in Albany, and it was a center of trade in the Southeast.

Albany is part of the Black Belt, the extensive area in the Deep South of cotton plantations. From the mid-20th century, it received military investment during World War II and after, that helped develop the region.[6] Albany and this area were prominent during the civil rights era, particularly during the early 1960s as activists worked to regain voting and other civil rights. Railroad restructuring and reduction in the military here caused job losses, but the city has developed new businesses.


Albany is located in a region which was long inhabited by the Creek Indians, who called it Thronateeska after their word for "flint", the valuable mineral found in beds near the Flint River. They used it for making arrowheads and other tools.[7] In 1830, U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, and the United States made treaties to extinguish Creek and other Native American land claims in the Southeast. The U.S. Army forcibly removed most of the native peoples to Indian Territory, lands west of the Mississippi River.

Nelson Tift

Nelson Tift (1810-1891), the founder of Albany

European-American settlement began with Nelson Tift of Groton, Connecticut, who took land along the Flint River in October 1836 after Indian removal. Tift and his colleagues named the new town Albany after the capital of New York; noting that New York's Albany was a commercial center located at the headwaters of the Hudson River, they hoped that their town near the headwaters of the Flint would prove to be just as successful. It proved to be nowhere near as prosperous. Alexander Shotwell laid out the town in 1836, and it was incorporated as a city by an act of the General Assembly of Georgia on December 27, 1838.[8]

Tift was the city's leading entrepreneur for decades. An ardent booster, he promoted education, business, and railroad construction. During the Civil War he provided naval supplies and helped build two ships. He opposed Radical Reconstruction inside the state and in Congress, and was scornful of the Yankee carpetbaggers who came in. Historian John Fair concludes that Tift became "more Southern than many natives."[9] His pro-slavery attitudes before the war and his support for segregation afterward made him compatible with Georgia's white elite.[9]

This area was developed for cotton cultivation by planters, who used numerous enslaved African Americans to clear lands and process the cotton. As a result of the planters' acquisition of slave workers, by 1840 Dougherty County's majority population was black, composed overwhelmingly of slaves. The market center for cotton plantations, Albany was in a prime location for shipping cotton to other markets by steamboats. In 1858, Tift hired Horace King, a former slave and bridge builder, to construct a toll bridge over the river. King's bridge toll house still stands.

Already important as a shipping port, Albany later became an important railroad hub in southwestern Georgia. Seven lines were constructed to the town. An exhibit on trains is located at the Thronateeska Heritage Center in the former railroad station.

Carey Wentworth Styles

After the war, Carey Wentworth Styles moved to Albany and founded the newspaper Albany News. In the early years following the war, Styles, like Tift, took great exception to the Radical Reconstruction program then in force, and advocated for a more moderate response based on his interpretation of Georgia's rights under the Constitution.[10] Styles backed "constitutional reconstruction" advanced by Benjamin H. Hill and sought support for the idea from the national Democratic party.[10][11] While on a trip to Atlanta in May 1868, to meet with Democratic party leaders, Styles took measure of the contemporary Atlanta newspapers, and found them lacking.[12]

Styles believed them to be little more than organs for the Radical Republican reconstruction agenda.[13][14] He resolved to bring a paper aligned with the Democratic party viewpoint to the Atlanta market, one supporting his constitutional reconstruction ideals.[11][12][13][14] Styles moved from Albany to Atlanta, and on May 9 he announced that he had obtained the necessary financial backing to purchase the Daily Opinion.[15]

On June 16, 1868 the new Democratic daily (as he described it) printed its first edition, under the name The Constitution.[12] Styles' tenure at the Atlanta Constitution would be brief. Unable to pay for his portion of the purchase, when the sale of his Albany News fell through, Styles was forced to surrender his interest in the paper to his joint venture partners. Styles returned to Albany as editor of the News. In 1872, he was elected to the Georgia Senate, representing Augusta and surrounding communities, in an ironic turn of events, having killed a member of the Georgia House of Representatives in his earlier years.[10][11][16] After his legislative service, Styles sold the Albany newspaper in 1876 and returned to Atlanta.

20th century to present

While integral to the economic life of the town, the Flint River has flooded regularly. It caused extensive property damage in 1841 and 1925. The city has also been subject to tornadoes. On February 10, 1940, a severe tornado hit Albany, killing eighteen people and causing large-scale damage.

On April 11, 1906, the Carnegie Library, created by matching funds from the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, was opened downtown.[17] Originally a segregated facility under Jim Crow laws, it was not open to African Americans until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It functioned as a library through 1985. In 1992, after renovation, the building was reopened as the headquarters of the Albany Area Arts Council.

In 1912, the downtown U.S. Post Office and courthouse building opened. Other federal projects have been important to the city and region. In 1937, Chehaw Park was constructed as a part of a New Deal program under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

Major changes came with the expansion of military facilities in the city, secured by the powerful Southern Block in Congress. A U.S. Army Air Corps training base was built near Albany on land owned by the city and leased to the Air Corps for $1 a year. Construction of the base and airfield by the Army Corps of Engineers began on March 25, 1941. After being used during World War II, the airfield was temporarily deactivated between August 15, 1946, and September 1, 1947.

After the beginning of the Cold War and the founding of the U.S. Air Force in late 1947, the airfield was reactivated and upgraded with runways for a U.S. Air Force base. It was named Turner Air Force Base. The Air Force used this base for heavy bomber jets, such as the B-52 Stratofortress. A number of other Air Force units were also housed at this base.[18] Among them were the 1370th Photomapping Group,[19] and refueling and maintenance functions.

In 1951, the U.S. Marine Corps established a logistics base on the eastern outskirts of Albany. During the 1950s and 1960s, so many white servicemen and associated workers arrived that the city briefly became majority white for the first time since 1870.

In 1960, the population of Albany reached 50,000 people. During 1961–1962, African Americans in Albany played a prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement (see the Albany Movement). They led protests and non-violent demonstrations to end segregation of public facilities, gain the right to vote, and advance social justice. Assisted by activists from SCLC, CORE, SNCC, and the NAACP, African Americans and supporters took a stand to fight segregation through nonviolence. The city repealed its Jim Crow laws in 1963,[20] but African Americans did not recover the ability to exercise their voting rights until Congress passed enforcement authority with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 1967, the Air Force closed all its operations at the base, which was transferred to the U.S. Navy and renamed Naval Air Station Albany. NAS Albany was used as the shore base of nearly all the Navy's RA-5C Vigilante twin-jet, carrier-based reconnaissance aircraft. In 1974, the base was closed and the property was returned to the city.

In 1979, the Miller Brewing Company purchased part of the old naval base's property to build a new brewery.[21]

The decline in military bases and railroad restructuring nationwide both led to job losses in the Albany area. Much of the remaining white population moved to suburbs and newer housing out of the city, which became majority African American in the 1970s. Struggling with a poor economy, in 1988 Albany made national headlines as the "Murder Capital of America", with the highest murder rate per capita in the United States. Other cities have since taken that title.

Some late twentieth-century floods have been extreme. In 1994, a severe flood was caused by rainfall from Tropical Storm Alberto; it killed 14 people and displaced 22,000. The state supported a $150 million renovation of the Albany State University campus to repair storm damage and complete upgrades. New housing was built on the south side of town to replace what had been destroyed. In 1998, the Flint River crested at 35 feet (11 m) above its bed and flooded parts of the city.

Because of such flooding, the city has decided against redeveloping areas along the riverfront floodplain for commercial or residential purposes. This area is being improved for other uses, with a riverfront walkway and a new aquarium built over a tributary creek.

On January 2 and 22, 2017, violent tornadoes passed through the area, claiming several lives and destroying mobile home parks in the process.[22] On October 10, 2018 Hurricane Michael, the first major hurricane (Category 3+) to directly impact Georgia since the 1890s, plowed through South Georgia leaving widespread devastation in its path.[23]


The new archway over Oglethorpe Boulevard at Front Street welcomes visitors to downtown Albany.

Albany is located at (31.582273, −84.165557), within Southwest Georgia.[24] It lies in a belt of historically rich farmland in the East Gulf coastal plain, on the banks of the Flint River. The city is 78 mi (126 km) southeast of Columbus, 151 mi (243 km) south of Atlanta, 45 mi (72 km) south of Americus, 93 mi (150 km) southwest of Macon, 39 mi (63 km) west of Tifton, 73 mi (117 km) northwest of Valdosta, 88 mi (142 km) north of Tallahassee, Florida, 70 mi (110 km) east of Eufaula, Alabama, and 84 mi (135 km) east of Dothan, Alabama.

As of 2010, the city of Albany had been a member of the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA Program for 23 years.[25] Tree-lined streets are common, with large, mature oaks and other native trees. The city has a tree ordinance,[26] and a certified arborist on staff.[27]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Albany has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[28] Albany receives well above the national average amount of precipitation. Much of this comes in the form of heavy showers and thunderstorms. According to "Cities Ranked and Rated" (Bert Sperling and Peter Sander), Albany reports thunder on 86 days per year. This is more than twice the national average.

Climate data for Albany, Georgia (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1891–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 83
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 59.5
Daily mean °F (°C) 48.4
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 37.3
Record low °F (°C) 1
Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.78
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.6 9.0 8.4 7.0 6.2 11.7 11.8 12.2 7.6 6.1 6.6 9.1 105.3
Source: NOAA[29][30]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[31]
1850-1870[32] 1880[33]
1890-1910[34] 1920-1930[35]
1930-1940[36] 1940-1950[37]
Albany racial composition as of 2020[40]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 13,724 19.71%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 51,952 74.59%
Native American 89 0.13%
Asian 508 0.73%
Pacific Islander 13 0.02%
Other/Mixed 1,717 2.47%
Hispanic or Latino 1,644 2.36%

At the 1860 U.S. census, the city's population was 1,618. Its population has increased to a historic high of 78,122, before experiencing a decline to 69,647 at the 2020 United States census.[40]

Racially and ethnically, Albany forms a part of the Black Belt. The racial and ethnic composition in 2020 was 74.59% Black or African American, 19.71% non-Hispanic white, 0.13% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.02% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 2.47% other or multiracial, and 2.36% Hispanic or Latino of any race.[40] According to the American Community Survey of 2022, its racial and ethnic makeup was 75% African American, 19% White, 1% Asian, 2% multiracial, and 3% Hispanic or Latino of any race.[41]

At the 2022 American Community Survey, the city had a median age of 34.7. There was an average of 2.3 persons per household and 27,608 housing units. Approximately 33% were married couples, 19% non-family households, 40% female households, and 7% male households.[41] An estimated 36% of the city population was married.

Among its relatively young population, the city had a median household income of $39,422 with a per capita income of $22,115. More than 60% of the population earned less than $50,000 annually, and 27% earned from $50,000 to $100,000 a year. Of the population, 33.8% lived at or below the poverty line, and 55% of children under age 18 are considered to be in poverty. Approximately 15% of adults 65 and older were considered in poverty.[41]


An M88 Recovery Vehicle at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany undergoes depot maintenance in 2005.

Today, although the city is surrounded by pecan groves, pine trees, farms and plantations, almost none of the population is employed in agriculture. It has become heavily industrialized, and most business is conducted on a multinational scale. The city developed on both sides of the Flint River.

Health care, education and the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany are the largest employers. Manufacturing, transportation, and retail trade are also important foundations of Albany's economy, and the city acts as a hub for commerce in southwest Georgia.

On December 17, 2008, Cooper Tire and Rubber, one of Albany's largest employers, announced plans to close the local manufacturing facility.[42] Approximately 1,400 employees at the plant were projected to lose their jobs.

As a result of the Great Recession, unemployment remained higher in Albany than the country average. In 2012 Albany continued to add more new jobs while other portions of the state were trying to stem the tide of unemployment.[43]

Albany has a skilled workforce, makes continual upgrades to its infrastructure, and has improvements in public safety, such as its ISO fire rating of 2.[44] It has numerous economic development initiatives, such as an Opportunity Zone, which offers a $3,500 tax credit per job created.[45]

Arts and culture

The manager of a local movie theater was convicted in Jenkins v. Georgia (1972) of "distributing obscene material" for showing the film Carnal Knowledge, a popular movie directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margret, and Candice Bergen.

Museums and the arts

Albany Municipal Auditorium
Ray Charles statue, the centerpiece of Ray Charles Plaza
Ray Charles Plaza in Downtown Albany

Registered historic places


Memorials and sights

Astronauts Memorial, Albany
Amphitheater in Veterans Park, Albany
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Festivals and events

City races include a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) full marathon or a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) half marathon. The full race is ranked as one of the top Boston Marathon qualifiers in the country, with almost 20% of all marathon finishers qualifying.[66]

The annual Mardi Gras Street Festival takes place in downtown Albany the first weekend of March. Starting at noon and running until midnight, the festival coincides with the marathon and half marathon.[citation needed]


The new federal courthouse in downtown Albany is dedicated in honor of the civil rights attorney C.B. King of Georgia.

Elected officials include a mayor and six city commissioners, each of whom serves a four-year term. The commissioners are elected from single-member districts. An appointed city manager acts as the chief administrative officer. The city has been governed by a city commission and city manager since January 14, 1924.[67]

The city government places responsibility for specific features into several departments.[68]


Public schools

The Dougherty County School System operates a system of five learning centers, fourteen public elementary schools, four public middle schools, three public high schools, and one alternative school. All schools are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC). The system had an enrollment in 2009–2010 of 15,838 students being taught by 1,070 teachers and 198 support and administrative personnel.[69]

The following schools have distinctions:

Private schools

Several private schools provide primary and secondary education, including:

Higher education

Albany State University

The city is the location of Albany State University, founded as a pre-collegiate school in 1903. African Americans in the South had been intent since emancipation in gaining education and, by the turn of the 20th century, most were literate, as documented by W. E. B. Du Bois in his history, Black Reconstruction (1930). Albany State is notable as one of the few historically black colleges and universities to be part of the University System of Georgia.

Albany Technical College

Albany Technical College[70] is part of the Technical College System of Georgia and teaches post-secondary vocational and occupational training subjects.

Georgia Military College (GMC) has a site at this campus and conducts some classes here.

Troy University

Albany is a site location of Troy University, one of many satellites which Troy has established throughout the Southeastern United States. For more than 20 years, Troy University, a public non-profit institution of Alabama, has taught classes both in-class and online in Albany. Troy's Albany site has classes in criminal justice, psychology and various general studies, along with offering other undergraduate and master's degree programs online.[71]

Public libraries

Dougherty County Public Library Central Library

Dougherty County Public Library operates the public libraries serving Albany.


The Rosenberg Brothers Department Store, former headquarters of The Albany Herald


Television stations

FM radio stations

AM radio stations




Southwest Georgia Regional Airport (ABY) is a non-hub commercial service airport with service to Atlanta by Endeavor Air, a regional carrier for Delta. Both UPS and DHL use the airport as a sorting facility. In 2010, a master plan was completed. It recommended moving forward with the Replacement Terminal Project.[89]


Freight rail service is provided by Georgia Southwestern Railroad, Georgia and Florida Railway/Omnitrax, and Norfolk Southern Railway. Georgia and Florida Railway has its headquarters in Albany.

Several passenger trains from St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati in the Midwest, heading to Florida, made stops in Albany Union Station. The last of these, the Illinois Central's City of Miami made its final stop there in 1971.


Albany Transit System (ATS) has been operated by the city since 1974 and provides fixed-route and para-transit services in Albany and Dougherty County, including service to the airport. All buses are wheelchair accessible and are equipped with bicycle racks. The main transfer station is in downtown Albany, at the corner of Oglethorpe and Jackson.[90]

In addition, a Greyhound bus station is located in downtown Albany, with connections to interstate service.



While Albany is one of the largest cities in Georgia to not be served by an interstate, U.S. Route 19 and U.S. Route 82 provide thoroughfares through the city. The two join together north of the city for a short freeway known as the Liberty Expressway. Other major highways that run through the city include Georgia State Route 91, Georgia State Route 133, Georgia State Route 234, and Georgia State Route 520. Albany is located on Georgia State Route 300 (Georgia-Florida Parkway), which provides easy access to Cordele, and Interstate 75 to the northeast and south to Camilla, and Thomasville. The Liberty Expressway spans 10 miles (16 km) serves as a bypass on Albany's north and east sides. Other highways that pass through Albany include US 19, US 82, and State Routes 3, 62, 91, 133, 234, and 520.[91]


Broad Avenue Memorial Bridge

Albany's Broad Avenue Memorial bridge, constructed in 1920 and comprising three open-spandrel concrete deck arch main spans and eight closed-spandrel deck arch spans,[92] was closed in February 2009 after examination found it to be in unsafe condition.[93] Deconstruction began in 2015 and the replacement segmental concrete box girder bridge was dedicated to veterans and opened on November 11, 2015.[94][95]

In the early 1970s, construction of the Liberty-bypass bridges began. Construction of the bridges over the Flint River was completed much before the highway itself. They became known as the bridges to nowhere.

Energy infrastructure

Albany Water Gas and Light

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Georgia Power

Portions of Albany are serviced by Georgia Power, which operates two electrical power plants within Dougherty County: coal-fired Plant Mitchell and the hydroelectric dam at Lake Worth,[96] also known as Lake Chehaw.

Water management infrastructure

The Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission (WG&L) is a municipally-owned and operated utility system furnishing water, gas, and electricity to its broad–based customers. Albany WG&L, was founded in 1892 as the Albany Water Works, as the largest municipal user in Georgia.[97]

The public water supply source for Albany-Dougherty County is groundwater obtained from four aquifers:

The water quality is considered to be excellent, needing only chlorination and fluoridation treatment.[98]

Communications infrastructure

Both WG&L and AT&T offer communications infrastructure within the City of Albany.[97]

Solid waste management

Albany is served by the Dougherty County Landfill located at 900 Gaissert Road, approximately 7.5 miles (12.1 km) southeast of the City of Albany.[98]

Health care

Albany is the home of a not-for-profit regional health system with a 26-county cachement area with Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital[99] at its hub.

Public safety

Law enforcement

Albany is serviced by the Albany Police Department (APD) which is divided into three districts, each having its own police center. The Dougherty County Police Department is responsible for the unincorporated area of Dougherty County. The Dougherty County Sheriff's Department is a law enforcement agency under the direction of the County Sheriff, an elected official.[98]

Fire protection

The Albany Fire Department consists of more than 150 assigned personnel operating 11 fire stations in Dougherty County, seven of which are within the city limits.[98]

EMS/EMT service

Dougherty County EMS has over 60 employees and services the county through one headquarters and five satellite stations.[98]

Notable people


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Further reading