Downtown Decatur of DeKalb County, Georgia
Decatur is a city in, and county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. With a population of only 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. A suburb of Atlanta, and part of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, Decatur's public transportation is served by MARTA. The city's motto, inscribed on the city seal, reads "A city of homes, churches, and schools."
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 Habana, 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.
Above Painting by Dekalb County resident Corey Barksdale
During the American Civil War, Decatur became a strategic site in Sherman's campaign against Atlanta. In July of 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 on all sides 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 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.
Decatur contains three historic districts, the MAK Historic District, the Clairemont Historic District, and the most recently established historic district, the Ponce de Leon Court Historic District. The MAK Historic District is named for the three main streets it encompasses (McDonough, Adams and Kings Highway). The Clairemont Historic District runs the length of Clairemont Avenue from Commerce Drive and Hunter Street in the south to Maediris Drive in the north. The Ponce de Leon Court Historic District is a single street off of East Ponce de Leon Avenue near downtown Decatur with 26 parcels developed in the 1920's.
Above Painting by Dekalb County resident Corey Barksdale
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.8 km), all of it land.
As of the census 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/km). There were 8,497 housing units at an average density of 2,033.6/sq mi (784.9/km). The racial makeup of the city was 65.61% White, 30.48% African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.64% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.63% from other races, and 1.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.68% of the population.
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.
Decatur also has a large gay and lesbian population who were attracted by the city's liberal values and proximity to Atlanta. In fact, according to the 2000 Census, ZIP code 30030 (which includes Decatur) has one of the highest percentage of households with same sex couples in Georgia. Dekalb County has one of the largest concentrations of same sex couples in the nation.
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.
Above Painting by Dekalb County muralist painter Corey Barksdale
Primary and secondary schools
Decatur has one of the highest property tax rates in Georgia, much of which goes to support the high cost of maintaining a school system with one of the lowest student/teacher ratios in the State.
The schools are a part of the City Schools of Decatur.
* College Heights Early Learning Center
* Clairemont Elementary
* Decatur High School
* Glennwood Academy
* Oakhurst Elementary
* Renfroe Middle School
* Winnona Park Elementary
Colleges and universities
* Agnes Scott College
* Columbia Theological Seminary
* DeVry University
* Emory University is nearby, located in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia between Decatur and Atlanta.
* Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service
The current mayor is William F. Floyd. Previous mayors include Leslie Jasper Steele (1915), Jack Hamilton, Mike Mears, and Scott Candler, Sr. (known as Mr. DeKalb).
* Idrees Bashir - NFL football player
* Frank Broyles - Football player & coach
* Quincy Carter - Football player
* Mark David Chapman - Murderer of John Lennon
* The Brothers Chaps - Creators of web-cartoon Homestar Runner
* Kyle Davies - Major League Baseball Player
* Carmen Agra Deedy-children's book author/storyteller
* Amy Dumas- Wrestler, Former WWE Superstar under the name Lita
* Rebecca Latimer Felton - first woman U.S. Senator
* Jeff Foxworthy- comedian, star of Blue Collar Comedy Tour
* Gale Harold - Actor
* Jan Hooks, Actress
* Lil Jon - Rapper and Producer
* Deforest Kelly - Actor
* Amy Lee - Musician, longtime saxophonist for Jimmy Buffett
* Majesty - Rapper
* China Anne McClain - Actress and singer
* Lauryn McClain - Actress and singer
* Sierra McClain - Actress and singer
* Justin Moore - USL soccer player
* Mark Mowers - NHL hockey player
* Amy Ray and Emily Saliers - the music duo Indigo Girls
* Clint Sammons - Major League Baseball Player
* Sean P-rapper
* Michael Stipe - Lead singer of R.E.M.
* Chris Tucker - Actor and comedian
* Leila Ross Wilburn - Architect
* Daniel Wilcox - NFL football player
* Mr. Ball of Da Muzicianz - Rapper
Points of interest
* Georgia Perimeter College Botanical Garden
* Arts in Decatur
* Historical Train Depot
* DeKalb County Courthouse
* Old Scottish Rite Hospital
The Decatur Square Gazebo from the Old Courthouse Steps
Decatur, Georgia is the birthplace of the Huddle House chain
1. American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
2. US Board on Geographic Names. United States Geological Survey (2007-10-25). Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
3. US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990. United States Census Bureau (2005-05-03). Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
4. American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
* Clark, Caroline McKinney. The story of Decatur, 1823-1899. Dekalb Historical Society (1996).
* Gay, Mary. Life in Dixie During the War, Mercer University Press (2001).
* 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).