Coca-Cola recently celebrated its 130th birthday near the location where its flagship beverage was first served on May 8, 1886 by thanking its hometown with  a $1.8 million grant to improv support improvements in and around downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park District. Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent announced the grant alongside Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at a celebration hosted at the intersection of Peachtree and Marietta streets.

“While Atlanta has always been and will always be Coca-Cola’s home, the Centennial Olympic Park District is our neighbourhood,” Kent told a crowd of approximately 200 guests. “For decades, we have continued to invest in improving the area around our headquarters to support the continued growth of tourism, business and residences right here in our backyard.”

He added, “I can’t think of a better way to mark this occasion than by giving back to this great city that means so much to us all.”

Since it first opened in 1996, Centennial Olympic Park has become a major tourist hub for downtown Atlanta with more than 3 million people visiting the area each year. Pemberton Place, on the north side of the park, was developed by Coca-Cola using land purchased to house Coca-Cola’s Olympic City during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, in combination with land acquired by the company after the Games. In addition to building a new World of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola donated the land for both the Georgia Aquarium and the National Centre for Civil and Human Rights to create a home for three of the city’s major tourist attractions.

The Coca-Cola Company and its philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, have spent over $160 million and tens of thousands of volunteer hours over the last ten years in support of economic, environmental and social programs throughout the city of Atlanta. 

“I truly believe from 1886 to today, wherever Coca-Cola goes, the city of Atlanta goes,” Mayor Reed said. “And therefore, Coca-Cola is the city of Atlanta’s gift to the world.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed spoke of his recent visit to South Africa, and the impact the 5by20 initiative is having on women entrepreneurs and communities around the world, during remarks at Coca-Cola's 130th birthday celebrations on May 16, 2016.

Downtown Atlanta has been the home of Coca-Cola’s global operations since Dr. John Pemberton first created the beverage in his home on Marietta Street in 1886 and hand delivered it to Jacobs’ Pharmacy where it was initially served to consumers. What followed were a series of offices scattered around downtown Atlanta which the company quickly outgrew until finally in 1920 it established its current headquarters at 310 North Avenue.  Today more than 5,000 employees work at the North Avenue campus with an additional 4,000 Coca-Cola associates located throughout Georgia.

Jacobs’ Pharmacy Location Gets Georgia Historic Marker

Mayor Reed and Kent were joined by Georgia Historical Society President and CEO Todd Groce to dedicate a new historical marker at the “Five Points” intersection as part of the society’s Georgia Business History initiative. Groce proposed a Coca-Cola toast against a backdrop of a full-size replica of the original Jacobs’ Pharmacy on the wall of Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of International Affairs – the pharmacy’s original location.

“To an organization that embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, the social conscience and the philanthropic heart of this city and state and an iconic company that for over a century has served the taste of Georgia around the world,” Groce said, raising a glass bottle of Coca-Cola.

After the dedication event, Coca-Cola thanked downtown residents and workers by handing out free beverages and World of Coca-Cola tickets in nearby Woodruff Park.

Kent concluded: “Thank you for welcoming Coca-Cola into your lives and loving Coca-Cola. Thank you for making us a special part of your lives. Thank you for everything you have done for us.”