Albany is the hub of Southwest Georgia. Col. Nelson Tift of Connecticut settled on the banks of the Flint River in 1836 on the site that is now Albany.
Albany is the trade, retail and medical center for all of Southwest Georgia. The developmental highway system provides four-lane access to all major interstate highways, thus making Albany a transportation, trucking and distribution center. Albany also offers rail service, airline freight and passenger service and bus service.
Albany is the seat of Dougherty County government and the regional center for industry, business, retail sales, education, cultural activities, health care and news media. The greater Albany area includes seven primary counties — Baker, Calhoun, Dougherty, Lee, Mitchell, Terrell and Worth.
Designated as Georgia’s first five-star city in 1992, by then-Governor Zell Miller, Albany is a community that offers the amenities of a large metropolitan area while maintaining its small-town warmth and friendliness. Vital information and tips to help newcomers become established can be found on the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce website at www.albanyga.com and the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.visitalbanyga.com.
Albany’s metropolitan statistical area is Dougherty, Lee, Baker, Terrell and Worth counties, equaling a population of more than 162,000.
Albany Area Chamber of Commerce
The military community is an important part of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. The relationship dates back to 1948, when the president of the chamber assisted in the recruiting of a Marine Corps base for Albany. Members of the military community are always welcomed and encouraged to attend chamber functions and interact with the leadership of the region.
The Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee works with base officials to ensure the base’s community role is recognized and to demonstrate the community’s appreciation for service members and their families, who are assigned duty at the Marine base.
The chamber is here to serve the business community and to help businesses thrive. Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany is an important part of the business community. As Marines and their families live, work, shop and attend schools and churches in the area, they also become a part of Albany’s cultural and social framework.
Georgia driver’s licenses are issued at the Albany office of the Department of Driver Services located at 2062 Newton Rd., one mile north of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. Hours of operation are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and its statewide call center can be reached toll free at (866) 754-3687, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
For more information, visit the website, www.dds.ga.gov.
Employment services are available at the Georgia Department of Labor located at 1608 South Slappey Blvd.
For more information, visit the website, www.dol.state.ga.us, or call (229) 430-5010.
Newcomers who wish to vote as Georgia residents may register on the second floor of the Governmental Building, 222 Pine Ave., Room 220, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Citizens may also register to vote at any public library, the Albany State University and Darton State College libraries. Residents must be registered 30 days prior to any election in order to vote in that election.
For more information, call (229) 431-3247, or visit the county website at www.dougherty.ga.us or the Secretary of State site at www.sos.state.ga.us. Registration forms and absentee ballot forms are available on the Secretary of State site.
Career and Higher Education
Two colleges and a progressive vocational-technical institute make post-secondary education easily accessible.
Albany State University is a senior unit of the University System of Georgia with more than 40 major fields of study. ASU offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and maintains flexible scheduling for nontraditional students.
For more information, visit the website, www.asurams.edu, or call (229) 430-4600.
Albany Technical College, a public postsecondary institution of the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education, offers high quality education in technical training programs that are centered on the needs of adults, businesses and industries in the area.
For more information, visit the website, www.albanytech.edu, or call (229) 430-3500.
Since 1966, Darton State College has been a leader in providing quality educational opportunities and services to Southwest Georgia. Darton State College offers a variety of programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 84 associate degrees and 49 certificate programs. Darton State College is home to more than 6,000 students with more than 155 international students from 40 countries. Darton State College, a public institution, is part of the University System of Georgia and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
For more information, visit the website, www.darton.edu, or call (229) 317-6740.
Arts and Culture
The Albany-Dougherty County area is alive with cultural events and entertainment. Albany enjoys the reputation of being the national quail hunting capital, but the area also features deer, dove and other game. Lakes and rivers in the area provide a variety of fishing opportunities.
In addition, the community offers a wide range of arts through the Albany Museum of Art, the Georgia Artists’ Guild, the Recorder Ensemble, the Thronateeska Heritage Foundation and the Albany Writers’ Guild. The two local colleges and the public library offer affiliated cultural opportunities as well.
Albany Area Arts Council
Carnegie Building, 215 North Jackson St.
Tour the historic Carnegie Library building that houses the Albany Area Arts Council. While there, pick up a free calendar of events for performing or visual arts, or purchase tickets to area arts events. Also view exhibitions of works by regional artists.
Albany Civil Rights Institute
326 Whitney Ave.
The Albany Civil Rights Institute is a beautifully restored church that was a meeting place for civil rights marchers in the 1960s. The Old Mt. Zion Baptist Church was one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s main speaking locations — the Albany Civil Rights Institute is proud of its multimillion-dollar expansion. The institute is both a museum and an educational space. On the second Saturday of each month, visitors are moved by the songs of the Freedom Singers led by Rutha Harris, an original singer, who still performs today.
For more information, visit the website, www.albanycivilrightsinstitute.org.
Albany Municipal Auditorium
200 North Jackson St.
Albany Municipal Auditorium is one of the community’s cultural treasures. Built in 1915 and restored to its original splendor in 1990, the Albany Municipal Auditorium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is host to regular performances by the Albany Chorale, the Albany Concert Association, the Albany Symphony Orchestra and special performances by the Albany Ballet and Theatre Albany. Various local and touring groups also perform frequently.
Ballet Theatre South
The Albany Ballet promotes the art of dance in the community through performances of classical ballet, modern ballet and jazz. The Albany Ballet presents several performances a year at the Albany Municipal Auditorium.
Highway 91, Philema Road
Chehaw provides nearly 800 acres of fun, including a 100-acre, AZA-accredited zoo, Chehaw Wild Animal Park. Noted naturalist and Albany native Jim Fowler of TV’s “Wild Kingdom,” originally laid out the park, which features natural habitat exhibits with native and exotic animals. In 2013 Chehaw Wild Animal Park added the African Veldt Ride where visitors will find no roads, only grassland, a smattering of trees, a watering hole and a bunch of exotic animals.
Young children may play in one of the state’s largest play parks, visit the petting zoo or ride the miniature train. Chechaw also offers an 18-hole Disc Golf Course. Camping, hiking and BMX bike racing are available.
Flint RiverQuarium, Imagination Theater
and Cypress Pond Aviary
101 Pine Ave.
(877) GOFLINT, (229) 639-2650
The Flint RiverQuarium follows the
river’s amazing 350-mile journey to the sea, and the 175,000-gallon Blue Hole is one of only a few open-air aquariums in the world. Get a unique look at Southwest Georgia’s mysterious underwater world with more than 100 kinds of fish, turtles, alligators, snapping turtles and other creatures that make the Flint River their home.
Next door is the Adventure Center, which houses the Imagination Theater, the area’s only large screen format theater. Visitors to the Flint RiverQuarium can see more than 30 species of birds in addition to other native wildlife on exhibit in the Cypress Pond Aviary.
Walk, bike or jog along the beautiful Flint River. The park also features a children’s play park, Turtle Grove and a replica of the historic Horace King Bridge.
The Historic Bridge House
Albany Welcome Center in the
Historic Bridge House
112 North Front St.
A perfect place for groups to begin their tours in Albany; overlooking the Flint River, the Bridge House offers an area overview of Southwest Georgia. See the film “From the Heart of Southwest Georgia.”
514 Pine Ave.
Theatre Albany offers five major pro-ductions during the regular season in its 314-seat main stage theater. Productions are also offered in the intimate studio theater. Theatre Albany also has a children’s theater, a reader’s theater, summer youth workshops and adult acting workshops.
Thronateeska Heritage Center
Thronateeska Heritage Center,
Wetherbee Planetarium and Science
and Discovery Center
100 West Roosevelt Ave.
The Wetherbee Planetarium, the first high-definition planetarium in the country (the other presides at Yale University), has a 40-foot dome and digital projection. Thronateeska Heritage Center includes historic buildings, a new Science Discovery Center with archeology, paleontology, geology and water science sections, and an interactive weather center.
Albany Museum of Art
311 Meadowlark Drive
The Albany Museum of Art went through a $1 million renovation. View one of the finest collections of sub-Saharan African art in the South, a permanent collection of 19th and 20th Century American and European art, and several changing exhibits. The Albany Museum of Art was recognized as the 2005 Museum of the Year by the Georgia Association of Museums. Children love the Amazing Space wing featuring a youth art gallery and a hands-on interactive gallery.
Ray Charles Plaza
(229) 317-4760 or 1-866-750-0840
On the banks of the Flint River, the Ray Charles Plaza commemorates the life and legacy of Ray Charles Robinson, who was born in Albany. A life-size sculpture of Charles, seated at a baby grand piano, rests on a rotating pedestal. Charles’ beloved melodies play at timed intervals as water flows over the base of the piano and spills into a reflecting pool.
The plaza features covered seating, a piano key-paved walkway with raised keys for sitting and brick pavers engraved with musical notes.
Join thousands of people in downtown Albany the first Saturday in March at the Albany Marathon and Half Marathon and the Mardi Gras festival. The Albany Marathon and Half Marathon starts and ends on the Flint River in downtown as it meanders through beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods. It is a flat course and is a Boston Marathon qualifier.
The last Friday of each month, artists and musicians showcase their talents at the Art Park, a unique venue that encourages street artists to express their artistic sides, all while attracting a crowd to downtown Albany. The event brings hundreds of people together in a unique open air venue to enjoy artists painting, blowing glass, making pottery, and more while listening to the music of local talent.