January 30, 2000
Atlanta hosts Super Bowl XXXIV. A postgame party ends with a fatal scuffle outside Buckhead’s Cobalt Lounge. Three men, including Baltimore Ravens player Ray Lewis, are charged.
February 2, 2000
Silverback gorilla Willie B. dies. His move from cinder block cell (in what was deemed one of the country’s worst zoos) to a customized, eco-sensitive habitat symbolized the turnaround of Zoo Atlanta—and was seen as a metaphor for the city’s own resurgence.
>> Read our February 2011 story about Willie B.’s memorial service
December 15, 2000
Three days before he is to be sworn in as DeKalb County sheriff, Derwin Brown is shot in his own driveway. Sidney Dorsey, the sheriff Brown had defeated in a runoff election, is later sentenced to life for ordering Brown’s murder—as well as abusing power while in office.
Reality TV of the best kind was on tap thanks to the, uh, bust of the Gold Club, Atlanta’s high-end gentlemen’s joint. Testimony by NBA star Patrick Ewing (who told the court that yes, he did get extra-special treatment in the VIP room) was just one of the highlights in the trial against club owner Steve Kaplan. While sex, celebs, sports stars, and strippers captured tabloid attention, Kaplan was in court on more prosaic racketeering charges.
November 4, 2001
Shirley Franklin is elected Atlanta’s first female mayor—the first black woman elected mayor of any major Southern city.
March 16, 2002
Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta” makes it to the number thirty-five spot on the Billboard 100, one of his best-charting songs as a performer. Behind the scenes, Dupri’s career as a producer soars; he works with acts such as TLC and Usher.
November 5, 2002
Sonny Perdue is elected governor, the first Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction.
October 11, 2002
The Nobel Committee announces that the 2002 Peace Prize has been awarded to Jimmy Carter.
May 31, 2003
After five years on the lam, Olympic Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph—also linked to bombings at a Sandy Springs family-planning clinic, a gay club on Piedmont Road, and an abortion clinic in Alabama—is arrested in Murphy, North Carolina. In 2005 he pleads guilty to all four bombings and is sentenced to life.
November 10, 2004
Linda Schrenko, former superintendent of schools, is indicted for embezzling more than $500,000 in education funds.
March 2, 2005
Leah Ward Sears becomes the first woman to head the Supreme Court of Georgia.
March 11, 2005
After shooting a judge, a court reporter, and a deputy at the Fulton County Courthouse, Brian Nichols flees, leading police on a daylong chase during which he steals five vehicles and kills an off-duty federal agent. He is eventually arrested in Gwinnett County.
April 26, 2005
Duluth resident Jennifer Wilbanks earns the moniker “the Runaway Bride” when she disappears a few days before her nuptials. At first she claims to have been abducted and assaulted; it turns out to be a bad case of cold feet. A chagrined Wilbanks is sentenced to 120 hours of community service and fined $2,550.
November 8, 2005
Shirley Franklin is reelected—with 91 percent of the vote.
November 23, 2005
The Georgia Aquarium opens.
December 1, 2005
Sandy Springs is incorporated as a city, ending a political crusade to secede from Fulton County that its residents began in the 1970s.
February 7, 2006
The funeral for Coretta Scott King, attended by four presidents, is televised from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Before the funeral, her body lay in state in the Georgia capitol, a marked difference from the events around her husband’s death four decades earlier.
March 10, 2006
Former Mayor Bill Campbell is convicted of tax dodging. He is later sentenced to thirty months in jail and a $6,000 fine.
July 17, 2007
Falcons star quarterback Mike Vick is indicted on charges related to running a dogfighting ring.
March 14, 2008
A tornado tears through Downtown Atlanta, ripping windows out of the Westin Peachtree tower, shattering the CNN Center, and hurling glass and debris throughout Downtown and close-in neighborhoods such as Vine City and Old Fourth Ward. The storm causes more than $150 million in damage, and some buildings take years to be repaired.
April 14, 2008
Delta announces plans to merge with Northwest, creating the world’s largest airline.
October 24, 2008
Alpha Bank and Trust in Alpharetta is closed, starting a string of bank closures in Georgia, which will have the highest rate in the country during the economic downturn.
December 9, 2009
After a runoff recount, Kasim Reed is declared Atlanta’s 59th mayor.