History and Heritage

The first inhabitants of the Albany area were the Creek Indians who called their home along the riverbank “Thronateeska,” meaning “the place where flint is picked up.” Fittingly, the river flowing through Albany is called the Flint River. Nelson Tift founded the city in 1836, hoping that the settlement’s location would lead it to become a trade center similar to Albany, New York.

Once it was discovered that low water and sandbars in the Flint River made steamboat navigation unreliable, Albany eventually turned to rail transportation, becoming a rail center by the turn of the century. Union Station, which united the seven railroads, served as many as 55 trains daily at its peak. This station is now the home of the Thronateeska Heritage Center.  

Redevelopment of downtown Albany has occurred as a result of private-public partnership (P3) and offers downtown shopping, coffee shops, the Flint RiverQuarium, and the Imagination Theater. Additionally, Riverfront Park provides visitors access to the Turtle Grove Play Park, where water features and riverside trails provide families the opportunity to play and learn together while enjoying the expansive views of the Flint River. 

Investment made in the heart of downtown continues to spur growth and attendance for other community assets such as the Chehaw Wild Animal Park, Radium Springs, the Albany Civil Rights Museum, the Albany Municipal Thearte, the Albany Civic Center, and retail centers across the community. It is because of this focus on downtown and redevelopment that, today, Albany-Dougherty County serves as the cultural and industrial hub for the region.