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Decatur, Georgia
—  City  —
Old DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur

Location in DeKalb County and the state of Georgia
Coordinates: 33°46′17″N 84°17′52″W / 33.77139°N 84.29778°W / 33.77139; -84.29778
Country United States
State Georgia
County DeKalb
 - Total 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 - Land 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
 - Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 1,043 ft (318 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 18,147
 - Density 4,320.7/sq mi (1,680.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 30030-30037
Area code(s) 404 678
FIPS code 13-22052[1]
GNIS feature ID 0331532[2]
For the south-western Georgia county, see Decatur County, Georgia.

Decatur is a city in, and county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. With a population of 18,147 in the 2000 census, the city is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple zip codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear the Decatur name. An intown suburb of Atlanta and part of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, Decatur's public transportation is served by three MARTA rail stations. Decatur's official motto is "A city of homes, schools and places of worship."[3]



In 1823 Decatur, Georgia was founded at the intersection of two Native American trails: the Sandtown which led east from the Chattahoochee River at Utoy Creek and the Shallowford which follows today's Clairmont Road and eventually crossed near Roswell, Georgia. The town was named for naval hero Stephen Decatur and its early roads were named logically but soon after were renamed in a curious manner:

Shallowford Road, which led to the Shallow Ford, has been renamed Clairmont Avenue, probably because it does not go to, from or past any place called Clairmont. Covington Road is now Sycamore Street, probably because it leads to Covington and has no Sycamores on it. Nelson's Ferry Road, named after the local family which ran the ferry at the Chattahoochee end of the road, has been named Ponce de Leon after a family prominent, before Castro, in Havana, Cuba.— Mitchell, Stephens, "A Tentative Reconstruction of the Decatur Town Map of 1823", Atlanta Historical Bulletin, No.30, p.8, 1965.

In the 1830s, the Western and Atlantic Railroad wanted to make Decatur the southernmost stop on its railroad. The citizens of Decatur did not want the noise, pollution and growth that would come with such a major terminal, so they rejected the proposal. In response, the railroad founded a new city to the west-southwest of Decatur for the terminal. This town would later become known as Atlanta, Georgia.

During the American Civil War, Decatur became a strategic site in Sherman's campaign against Atlanta. In July 1864 Union general James B. McPherson occupied Decatur to cut off the Confederate's supply line from Augusta, Georgia. During the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, Confederate cavalry under Major General Joseph Wheeler attacked McPherson's supply wagons and the Union troops left to defend the wagons. A marker at the Decatur courthouse marks the site of this skirmish.

In the last half of the twentieth century the metropolitan area of Atlanta expanded into unincorporated DeKalb County, eventually surrounding two sides of the incorporated town of Decatur. Concurrently many well-to-do and middle class White Americans fled the area to more distant suburbs. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed dramatic drops in property values. However more recently the city has regained economic vigor, partially thanks to several long-term downtown development plans that have come to fruition, making Decatur a trendy small mixed-use district with easy transit to downtown Atlanta. Over the past twenty years, Decatur has gained a local and national reputation as a diverse, progressive city with a high level of citizen involvement that retains a small town feel despite its proximity to Atlanta.


Decatur is located at 33°46′17″N 84°17′52″W / 33.77139°N 84.29778°W / 33.77139; -84.29778 (33.771355, -84.297732)[4].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.8 km²), all of it land.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1960 22,026
1970 21,943 −0.4%
1980 18,404 −16.1%
1990 17,304 −6.0%
2000 18,147 4.9%

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 18,147 people, 8,051 households, and 3,856 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,343.2 people per square mile (1,676.2/km²). There were 8,497 housing units at an average density of 2,033.6/sq mi (784.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.6% White, 30.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.[5]

There were 8,051 households out of which 22.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.1% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 52.1% were non-families. 39.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 9.1% from 18 to 24, 37.0% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 73.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 68.0 males. ZIP code 30030 (which includes Decatur) has one of the highest percentages of households with same sex couples in Georgia, 9.20% as of 2000.[6]

The median income for a household in the city was $47,395, and the median income for a family was $65,064. Males had a median income of $46,817 versus $38,381 for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,363. About 7.0% of families and 11.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.7% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.

Education levels for Decatur are above average for the Atlanta area, with 56% of residents having obtained a bachelor's degree or higher, and 27% having obtained a graduate degree or higher.


Primary and secondary schools

The schools are a part of the City Schools of Decatur. Decatur High School is the city's designated high school.

Colleges and universities


Decatur has a Commission - Manager form of government. A five member City Commission is elected for four year terms on two year cycles. Two members are elected from the south side of the City, two from the north side and one is elected at-large. At their organizational meeting each January, the Commissioners elect a mayor and mayor-pro-tem from among their own membership for a one year term. The mayor is not a separate elected office. The current mayor is William F. Floyd. Previous mayors have included Leslie Jasper Steele (1915), Jack Hamilton, Walter Drake, Mike Mears, Elizabeth Wilson, and Scott Candler, Sr. (known as Mr. DeKalb).

The Commission appoints a professional City Manager to carry out the policies, directives and day-to-day business of the City. There are also several citizen volunteer Boards and Commissions appointed by the City Commission including the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Historic Preservation Commission, and others.

Neighborhoods & Historic Districts

Notable natives

Points of interest

Decatur's downtown area and residential neighborhoods are filled with historic structures. This listed primarily consists of structures on the National Register of Historic Places, but many remain privately-owned and may only be viewed from the exterior.

  • South Candler Street--Agnes Scott College Historic District, 141 East College Ave. This "district" is on the National Register of Historic Places. It includes both the college campus and surrounding historic homes, and is "book-ended" by the Winnona Park Historic District to the east and the MAK Historic District to the west.
  • Clairemont Historic District, north of Decatur Square.
  • Columbia Theological Seminary, 701 Columbia Dr. This tree-lined, brick and limestone campus lies within Decatur's Winnona Park neighborhood.
  • Cora Beck Hampton Schoolhouse and House, 213 Hillyer Pl. These structures are on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Decatur Cemetery, 229 Bell St. Historic cemetery founded in the early 19th Century and locNE of Decatur Square.
  • Decatur Railway Depot, 301 East Howard St. Decatur's renovated Railway Depot is now a creole/cajun restaurant known as "Depeaux".
  • Old DeKalb County Courthouse, 101 East Court Sq. The historic courthouse sits in Decatur Square, and contains a small history museum.
  • Fraser House, Church St. & Bell St. A modest 19th Century structure at the entrance to Decatur Cemetery.
  • High House, North Candler St. and Sycamore St. This antebellum structure is believed to be the oldest 2-story structure in Decatur.
  • Historic House Complex, 716 & 720 West Trinity Pl. Three antebellum homes relocated to Adair Park.
  • Historic Oakhurst, in southwest Decatur. An early 20th Century town annexed by Decatur, Oakhurst still has its own business district surrounded by bungalows.
  • MAK Historic District, McDonough, Adams and Kings Highway. Decatur's first local historic district is full of early 20th Century American Craftsman-style homes and has been used by Hollywood for films.
  • Methodist Chapel, Commerce Ave. & Sycamore St. A beautiful granite chapel on historic Sycamore Street that is owned by First Methodist Church, Decatur.
  • Old Scottish Rite Hospital, 321 West Hill St. (Oakhurst neighborhood). The historic Shriner's hospital has had an adaptive reuse and now houses restaurants and an art gallery.
  • Pythagoras Masonic Lodge, 108 East Ponce de Leon Ave. A 1924 building designed by architect William Sayward.
  • Ponce de Leon Court Historic District. A single street of bungalows and palm trees east of Decatur Square (off Ponce de Leon Ave.).
  • Historic Sycamore St. Some of Decatur's largest historic residences line this street.
  • Old U.S. Post Office, 141 Trinity Place. Marble-encased former federal building on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Winnona Park Historic District, in southeast Decatur. This district is on the National Register of Historic Places for its residences, but it is also the home of Columbia Theological Seminary.
The Decatur Square Gazebo from the Old Courthouse Steps

Sister cities

Decatur has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):[7]



  • Clarke, Caroline McKinney. The story of Decatur, 1823-1899. Dekalb Historical Society (1996).
  • Gay, Mary. Life in Dixie During the War, Mercer University Press (2001).
  • Kaufman, David R. Peachtree Creek: A Natural and Unnatural History of Atlanta's Watershed, University of Georgia Press (2007).
  • Mason, Herman, Jr. African-American Life in DeKalb County, GA, 1823-1970 (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing (1998).
  • Owens, Sue Ellen. DeKalb County In Vintage Postcards. DeKalb Historical Society/Arcadia Publishing (2001).
  • Price, Vivian. Historic DeKalb County: An Illustrated History (Georgia Heritage Series). Historical Publishing Network (2007).
  • Willard, Levi. Early History of Decatur.

External links

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