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Fulton County, Georgia
Fulton co cthse 2011.jpg
Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta
Map of Georgia highlighting Fulton County
Location in the state of Georgia (U.S. state)
Map of the U.S. highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
Founded December 20, 1853
Seat Atlanta
Largest city Atlanta
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

534 sq mi (1,383 km²)
527 sq mi (1,365 km²)
7.7 sq mi (20 km²), 1.4%
 - (2014)
 - Density

1,748/sq mi (675/km²)
Congressional districts 5th, 6th, 11th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Fulton County is a county located in the Piedmont section of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 920,581,[1] making it the most populous county in Georgia. However, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed suspects significant undercounting in the City of Atlanta,[2] which implies similar concerns for Fulton County as a whole – the 2009 estimate of the county's population was 1,020,014, 10.8% higher than the 2010 census results. The current 2014 estimate for the population of Fulton County is 996,319. Its county seat is Atlanta,[3] the state capital since 1868. Ninety percent of the City of Atlanta is within Fulton County (the other 10% lies within DeKalb County). Fulton County is the principal county of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Fulton County is included in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History[edit | edit source]

Fulton County was created in 1853 from the western half of DeKalb County. It was named in honor of Hamilton Fulton, a surveyor for the Western and Atlantic Railroad; some sources had previously incorrectly claimed it was named for Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat.[4][5] Organized as settlement increased in the Piedmont section of upland Georgia, Fulton County grew rapidly after the American Civil War as Atlanta was rebuilt, becoming a center of railroad shipping, industry and business.

At the beginning of 1932, as an austerity measure to save money during the Great Depression, Milton County to the north and Campbell County to the southwest were annexed by Fulton County. This gave the county its current long shape along 80 miles (130 km) of the Chattahoochee River. On May 9 of that year, neighboring Cobb County ceded to Fulton County the city of Roswell and lands lying east of Willeo Creek, in order that the latter county be more contiguous with the lands ceded from Milton County.

In the later 20th century, Atlanta and Fulton county became the location of numerous national and international headquarters for leading companies, attracting workers from around the country. As a result, the city and county became more cosmopolitan and diverse.

Government[edit | edit source]

Fulton County is governed by a seven-member board of commissioners, whose members serve concurrent four-year terms. The most recent election was held in November 2010. The county has a county manager system of government, in which day-to-day operation of the county is handled by a manager appointed by the board. The chairman of the Board of Commissioners is elected at-large for the county-wide position. The vice chairman is elected by peers on a yearly basis. County commissioners are elected from single-member districts.

Board of Commissioners
District Commissioner Party
District 7 (At-Large) John H. Eaves (Chairman) Democratic
District 1 Liz Hausmann (Vice Chairman) Republican
District 2 Bob Ellis Republican
District 3 Lee Morris Republican
District 4 Joan P. Garner Democratic
District 5 Marvin S. Arrington, Jr. Democratic
District 6 Emma I. Darnell Democratic
Board of Commissioners Appointees
Position held Name
County manager Patrick O'Connor (Interim)
Clerk to the Commission Mark Massey
County attorney David Ware
Finance director Sharon Whitmore (Interim)

Services[edit | edit source]

Fulton County's budget of $1.2 billion funds an array of resident services. With 34 branches, the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System is one of the largest library systems in Georgia.

Human services programs include one of the strongest senior center networks in metro Atlanta, including four multi-purpose senior facilities. The county also provides funding to nonprofits with FRESH and Human Services grants.

Politics[edit | edit source]

Presidential elections results in Fulton County
Year Democratic Republican Others
2012 64.31% 255,470 34.52% 137,124 1.17% 4,661
2008 67.06% 272,000 32.08% 130,136 0.86% 3,489
2004 59.28% 199,436 39.94% 134,372 0.77% 2,599
2000 59.76% 152,039 39.84% 104,870 2.39% 6,303
1996 58.9% 143,306 39.6% 89,809 4.2% 10,053
1992 57.3% 147,459 33.2% 85,451 9.6% 24,499
1988 56.2% 120,752 42.8% 91,785 1.0% 2,152
1984 56.9% 125,567 43.1% 95,149 0.0% 0
1980 61.6% 118,748 33.7% 64,909 4.7% 9,066
1976 67.8% 129,849 32.2% 61,552 0.0% 0
1972 43.6% 74,329 56.4% 96,256 0.0% 0
1968 43.5% 77,847 35.8% 64,153 20.7% 37,068
1964 56.1% 93,540 43.9% 73,205 0.0% 11
1960 50.8% 55,803 49.2% 53,940 0.0% 0

Atlanta is the largest city in Fulton County, occupying the county's narrow center section and thus geographically dividing the county's northern and southern portions. Atlanta's last major annexation in 1952 brought over 118 square miles (310 km2) into the city, including the affluent suburb of Buckhead, and was motivated in part to maintain a majority of white voters in the city. The movement to create a city of Sandy Springs, launched in the early 1970s and reaching fruition in 2005, was largely an effort to prevent additional annexations by the city of Atlanta, and later to wrest local control from the county commission.

Taxation[edit | edit source]

Geographically remote from each other, the northern and southern sections of the county have grown increasingly at odds over issues related to taxes and distribution of services. Residents of the affluent areas of North Fulton (which are majority white) have increasingly complained that the Fulton County Board of Commissioners has ignored their needs, taking taxes collected in North Fulton, and spending them on programs and services in less wealthy South Fulton, which is majority black. In 2005, the Georgia General Assembly directed Fulton County, alone among all the counties in the state, to limit the expenditure of funds to the geographic region of the county where they were collected. The Fulton County Council contested this law, known as the "Shafer Amendment" after Sen. David Shafer (Republican from Duluth), in a lawsuit that went to the Georgia Supreme Court. On June 19, 2006, the Court upheld the law, ruling that the Shafer Amendment was constitutional.

The creation of the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia prompted the county to found two additional cities, resulting in no unincorporated areas remaining in north Fulton. In a domino effect, the residents of south Fulton approved referenda to create additional cities. One of these two referenda passed; the other was defeated.

Municipalization[edit | edit source]

Since the 1970s, residents of Sandy Springs had waged a long-running battle to incorporate their community as a city, which would make it independent of county council control. They were repeatedly blocked in the state legislature by Atlanta Democrats, but when control of state government switched to suburban Republicans after the 2002 and 2004 elections, the movement to charter the city picked up steam.

The General Assembly approved creation of the city in 2005, and for this case, it suspended an existing state law that prohibited new cities (the only type of municipality in the state) from being within three miles (4.8 km) of an existing one. The citizens of Sandy Springs voted 94% in favor of ratifying the city charter in a referendum held on June 21, 2005. The new city was officially incorporated later that year at midnight on December 1.

Creation of Sandy Springs spurred a movement toward municipalization of the entire county, which would attempt to incorporate every area into a city. Such a result would essentially eliminate the county's home rule powers (granted statewide by a constitutional amendment to the Georgia State Constitution in the 1960s) to act as a municipality in unincorporated areas, and return it to being entirely the local extension of state government.

In 2006, the General Assembly approved creation of two new cities, Milton and Johns Creek, which completed municipalization of North Fulton. The charters of these two new cities were ratified overwhelmingly in a referendum held July 18, 2006.

Voters in the Chattahoochee Hills community of southwest Fulton (west of Cascade-Palmetto Highway) voted overwhelmingly to incorporate in June 2007. The city became incorporated on December 1, 2007.

The General Assembly approved a proposal to form a new city called South Fulton. Its proposed boundaries were to include those areas still unincorporated on July 1, 2007. As a direct result of possibly being permanently landlocked, many of the existing cities proposed annexations, while some communities drew-up incorporation plans.[6]

Voters in the area defined as the proposed city of South Fulton overwhelmingly rejected cityhood in September 2007. It is the only unincorporated section of the county. North Fulton, which is overwhelmingly Republican, and members of the state legislature, have discussed forcing South Fulton residents to incorporate as a city to get Fulton County out of the municipal services business.

Secession[edit | edit source]

Some residents of suburban north Fulton have advocated that they be allowed to secede and re-form Milton County, after the county that was absorbed into Fulton County in 1932 during the Great Depression. Fulton County, in comparison to the state's other counties, is physically large. Its population is greater than that of each of the six smallest U.S. states.

The demographic make-up of Fulton County has changed considerably in recent decades. The northern portion of the county, a suburban area that is mostly Republican, is among the most affluent areas in the nation and is majority white. The central and southern portion of the county, which includes the city of Atlanta and its core satellite cities to the south on the other hand, is overwhelmingly Democratic and majority black. It contains some of the poorest sections in the metropolitan area, but also has wealthy sections, particularly in the neighborhoods along Cascade Road beyond I-285. Cascade Heights and Sandtown, located in the southwest region of Fulton County, are predominantly affluent African American in population.[7]

The chief opponents to the proposed division of the county comes from the residents of south Fulton County, who say that the proposed separation is racially motivated. State Senator Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat and a member of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, very strongly opposes the plan to split the county. "If it gets to the floor, there will be blood on the walls", Fort stated. "As much as you would like to think it's not racial, it's difficult to draw any other conclusion", he later added.[8]

In 2006 a political firestorm broke out in Atlanta when State Senator Sam Zamarripa (Democrat from Atlanta) suggested that the cities in North Fulton be allowed to secede and form Milton County in exchange for Atlanta and Fulton County consolidating their governments into a new "Atlanta County". South Fulton residents were strongly opposed to Fulton County's possible future division.

Taxes[edit | edit source]

Fulton County has a 7% total sales tax, including 4% state, 1% SPLOST, 1% homestead exemption, and 1% MARTA. Sales taxes apply through the entire county and its cities, except for Atlanta's additional 1% Municipal Option Sales Tax to fund capital improvements to its combined wastewater sewer systems (laying new pipes to separate storm sewers from sanitary sewers), and to its drinking water system.[9] Fulton County has lowered its General Fund millage rate by 26% over an eight-year period. Fulton County is the most fiscally conservative Progressive county in the nation with an excellent [10] credit rating.

Geography[edit | edit source]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 534 square miles (1,380 km2), of which 527 square miles (1,360 km2) is land and 7.7 square miles (20 km2) (1.4%) is water.[11] The shape of the county resembles a sword with its handle at the northeastern part, and the tip at the southwestern portion.

Adjacent counties[edit | edit source]

National protected areas[edit | edit source]

Transportation[edit | edit source]

Almost every major highway, and every major Interstate highway, in metro Atlanta passes through Fulton County. Outside Atlanta proper, Georgia 400 is the major highway through north Fulton, and Interstate 85 to the southwest.

Major highways[edit | edit source]

Interstate highways[edit | edit source]

U.S. highways[edit | edit source]

State routes[edit | edit source]

Secondary highways[edit | edit source]

Mass transit[edit | edit source]

MARTA serves most of the county, and along with Clayton and Dekalb County, Fulton pays a 1% sales tax to fund it. MARTA train service in Fulton is currently limited to the cities of Atlanta, Sandy Springs, East Point, and College Park, as well as the airport. Bus service covers most of the remainder, except the rural areas in the far southwest. North Fulton residents have been asking for service, to extend the North Line ten miles (16 km) up the Georgia 400 corridor, from Perimeter Center to the fellow edge city of Alpharetta. However, as the only major transit system in the country that its state government will not fund, there is no money to expand the system. Sales taxes now go entirely to operating, maintaining, and refurbishing the system. Xpress GA/ RTA provides commuter bus service from the outer suburbs of Fulton County, the city of Sandy Springs to Midtown and Downtown Atlanta.

Airports[edit | edit source]

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport straddles the border with Clayton County to the south and is the busiest airport in the world. The Fulton County Airport, often called Charlie Brown Field after aviator Charles Brown, is located just west-southwest of Atlanta's city limit. It is run by the county as a municipal or general aviation airport, serving business jets and private aircraft.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 14,427
1870 33,446 131.8%
1880 49,137 46.9%
1890 84,655 72.3%
1900 117,363 38.6%
1910 177,733 51.4%
1920 232,606 30.9%
1930 318,587 37.0%
1940 392,886 23.3%
1950 473,572 20.5%
1960 556,326 17.5%
1970 607,592 9.2%
1980 589,904 −2.9%
1990 648,951 10.0%
2000 816,006 25.7%
2010 920,581 12.8%
Est. 2014 996,319 22.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2014[1]

As of the census of 2010, there were 920,581 people residing in the county. The population density was 1,544 people per square mile (596/km²). There were 348,632 housing units at an average density of 660 per square mile (255/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 48.1% White, 44.6% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 5.6% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.6% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. 7.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The largest self-reported European ancestry group in Fulton County is English (8.7%) followed by German (7.5%)[16]

There were 321,242 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.3% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.2% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.15.

The age distribution was 24.4% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 35.5% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 97.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,321, and the median income for a family was $58,143. Males had a median income of $43,495 versus $32,122 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,003. About 12.4% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.6% of those under age 18 and 15.2% of those age 65 or over.

Economy[edit | edit source]

Companies headquartered in unincorporated areas in Fulton County include Mellow Mushroom.[17]

AFC Enterprises (Popeyes Chicken/Cinnabon), AT&T Mobility, Chick-fil-A, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Church's Chicken, The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, Earthlink, Equifax, First Data, Georgia-Pacific, Global Payments, Inc., The Home Depot, InterContinental Hotels Group, IBM Internet Security Systems, Mirant Corp., Newell Rubbermaid, Northside Hospital, Porsche Cars North America, Saint Joseph's Hospital, Southern Company, Spectrum Brands, SunTrust Banks, United Parcel Service, and Wendy's/Arby's Group are based in various cities throughout Fulton County.

MaggieMoo's and Marble Slab Creamery had their headquarters in an unincorporated area in the county, however, now those companies are located in neighboring Gwinnett County in Norcross.[18][19]

Education[edit | edit source]

All portions of Fulton County outside of the city limits of Atlanta are served by the Fulton County School System.

All portions within Atlanta are served by Atlanta Public Schools.

Communities[edit | edit source]

Cities[edit | edit source]

Unincorporated communities[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Census data shows Atlanta barely grew over past 10 years as surrounding counties were booming", Associated Press, March 17, 2010
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Fulton County, The New Georgia Encyclopedia
  5. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off.. pp. 133. 
  6. ^ Dewan, Shaila (July 13, 2006). "In Georgia County, Divisions of North and South Play Out in Drives to Form New Cities". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Census tracts 78.05, 103.01, 103.03 and 103.04
  8. ^ "Plan to split county hints at racial divide". Retrieved March 19, 2008. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Fulton County Receives Lowest Interest Rate in Georgia History for Tax Anticipation Notes. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". Retrieved 2012-12-22. 
  17. ^ "Contact Us." Mellow Mushroom. Retrieved on February 20, 2012. "5375 Drake Drive Atlanta, GA 30336"
  18. ^ "Contact Us." MaggieMoo's. Retrieved on February 26, 2010.
  19. ^ "Contact Us." Marble Slab Creamery. Retrieved on February 26, 2010.

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 33°47′N 84°28′W / 33.79, -84.47

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