Albany is in Southwest Georgia, about 90 miles southeast of Columbus, Georgia and 88 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida (map). The first residents of what is now Albany were the Creek Indians, who called their home "Thronateeska," meaning, "the place where flint is picked up." The abundance of flint along its banks inspired the Flint River's name. In 1826, under severe pressure from the U.S. government, the Creeks relinquished all their remaining lands in Georgia. A treaty in 1832 called for relocating the Creeks to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Four years later, U.S. troops, along with Georgia and Alabama militia, marched the Creeks to Indian Territory by force.
Albany was founded in 1836 by a group of Hawkinsville, Georgia investors as a center for growing, selling and exporting cotton. They located Albany on the Flint's banks so they could ship cotton by boat to the Gulf of Mexico. The Flint joins Lake Seminole southeast of Bainbridge, Georgia. Lake Seminole empties into the Apalachicola River near Chattahoochee Florida, then flows south through Florida until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola, Florida.
"Tift hoped the settlement would become a prosperous trade center like Albany, New York."
Nelson Tift, a Connecticut mercantile businessman, formed a company with the Hawkinsville investors to operate a mercantile and a ferry across the Flint River. Their goal was to serve the many cotton farmers seeking new fertile land in Southwest Georgia. Rawls, Tift & Co., issued 18 shares, listing as property "one steamboat in complete order intended for the navigation of the Flint River and two lots of land situated on the West bank of the Flint River in Baker County, intended for the location of a town . . . ." Tift's contract with the company required him to operate the business for one year, being paid a salary from the company stock. In October 1836 Tift constructed the city's first store from logs. Tift named the place Albany because the topography reminded him of the Hudson River Valley. Tift hoped the settlement would become a prosperous trade center like Albany, New York. The early economy was based on agriculture, commerce, manufacturing and shipping. Albany's first cotton was shipped to Appalachicola on the steamboat Mary Emeline in 1837. The first city lots were sold for $150 - $200 to people from Macon and Augusta.
Eventually, the Flint's low water and sandbars discouraged steamboat navigation. Albany turned to the railroads for transportation and became a rail center by the turn of the 20th century. Seven railroads went through Union Station, which served as many as 55 trains each day. After a severe boll weevil infestation that began in 1915 reduced the profitability of growing cotton, Albany's farmers focused on papershell pecans, Spanish peanuts and livestock. Today Albany's economy is based on manufacturing, government, retail, agriculture and health care. Major employers include the U.S. Marine Corps Logistics Base, Miller Brewing, M&M Mars, and Proctor & Gamble. Albany is also famous for its quail hunting plantations. In 2020 Albany's population included 69,952 people.