Fulton County, Georgia

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Fulton County, Georgia
County of Fulton
Fulton co cthse 2011.jpg
Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse in 2011
Map of Georgia highlighting Fulton County
Location in the U.S. state of Georgia
Map of the United States highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location in the U.S.
Founded December 20, 1853
Named for Hamilton Fulton
Seat Atlanta
Largest city Atlanta
 • Total 534 sq mi (1,383 km2)
 • Land 527 sq mi (1,365 km2)
 • Water 7.7 sq mi (20 km2), 1.4%
Population (est.)
 • (2015) 1,023,336
 • Density 1,892/sq mi (731/km2)
Congressional districts 5th, 6th, 11th, 13th
Time zone Eastern: UTC−5/−4
Website www.fultoncountyga.gov

Fulton County is a county in the north central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of 2016 estimates, the population was 1,023,336, making it Georgia's most populous county and the state's only county with over 1 million inhabitants. Its county seat is Atlanta,[1] 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 part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Fulton County was created in 1853 from the western half of DeKalb County. It was named in honor of Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat.[2][3] 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. That 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 so that the latter county would be more contiguous with the lands ceded from Milton County.

In the second half of the 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.


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) Robb Pitts (Chairman) Democratic
District 1 Liz Hausmann Republican
District 2 Bob Ellis Republican
District 3 Lee Morris Republican
District 4 Natalie Hall Democratic
District 5 Marvin S. Arrington, Jr. Democratic
District 6 Emma I. Darnell Democratic
Board of Commissioners Appointees
Position held Name
County Manager Dick Anderson
Clerk to the Commission Tonya Grier (interim)
County Attorney Patrise Perkins-Hooker
Chief Financial Officer Sharon Whitmore
Chief Operations Officer Todd Long
Chief Strategy Officer Anna Roach


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.


Previous Presidential Elections Results[4]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 26.9% 117,783 67.7% 297,051 5.5% 23,917
2012 34.4% 137,124 64.1% 255,470 1.4% 5,752
2008 32.1% 130,136 67.1% 272,000 0.9% 3,489
2004 39.9% 134,372 59.2% 199,436 0.9% 2,933
2000 39.8% 104,870 57.8% 152,039 2.4% 6,303
1996 36.9% 89,809 58.9% 143,306 4.1% 10,053
1992 33.2% 85,451 57.3% 147,459 9.5% 24,499
1988 42.8% 91,785 56.3% 120,752 1.0% 2,152
1984 43.1% 95,149 56.9% 125,567
1980 33.7% 64,909 61.6% 118,748 4.7% 9066
1976 32.2% 61,552 67.8% 129,849
1972 56.4% 96,256 43.6% 74,329
1968 35.8% 64,153 43.5% 77920 20.7% 36,995
1964 43.9% 73,205 56.1% 93,540 0.0% 11
1960 49.2% 53,940 50.9% 55,803
1956 42.2% 37,326 57.8% 51,098
1952 40.2% 35,197 59.9% 52,459
1948 11.7% 5,980 57.4% 29,318 30.9% 15,756
1944 17.1% 7,687 82.9% 37,161
1940 16.1% 6,033 83.6% 31,311 0.3% 122
1936 11.5% 3,552 88.2% 27,183 0.3% 94
1932 9.2% 2,063 89.7% 20,137 1.1% 253
1928 51.4% 9,368 48.6% 8,872
1924 25.6% 3,229 62.0% 7,830 12.5% 1579
1920 33.5% 3,336 66.5% 6,635
1916 9.2% 1,040 79.2% 8,945 11.6% 1311
1912 17.8% 1,688 76.9% 7,313 5.3% 507

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. 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.

Fulton County is one of the most reliably Democratic counties in the entire nation, having voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1876 except that of 1928 and again in 1972, when George McGovern could not win a single county in Georgia.


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 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. 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 prompted the creation of two additional cities, resulting in no unincorporated areas remaining in north Fulton. In a domino effect, the residents of southwest Fulton voted in referenda to create additional cities. In 2007, one of these two referenda passed and the other was defeated, but later passed in 2016.


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.

Johns Creek city hall

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.[5]

Voters in the area defined as the proposed city of South Fulton overwhelmingly rejected cityhood in September 2007. It was the only unincorporated section of the county until the residents voted in November 2016 to incorporate as the city of South Fulton, Georgia. Prior to that vote North Fulton, which is overwhelmingly Republican, and members of the state legislature, had discussed forcing South Fulton residents to incorporate as a city to get Fulton County out of the municipal services business.


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.[6]

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.[7]

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.


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.[8] Fulton County has lowered its general fund millage rate by 26% over an eight-year period.

In early 2017, the state's first (and so far only) fractional-percent sales taxes took effect in Fulton. Atlanta added an additional 0.5% for MARTA and 0.4% TSPLOST for other transportation projects, while anti-transit Republicans legislators from north Fulton blocked a countywide referendum on improving and extending MARTA, and instead allowed only a vote on a 0.75% TSPLOST for more roads in the areas outside Atlanta. This puts the total sales tax at 8.9% in Atlanta and 7.75% in the rest of the county, with 4% less on groceries. [4]


Garrett Lake, Mountain Park

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.[9] The shape of the county resembles a sword with its handle at the northeastern part, and the tip at the southwestern portion.

Going from north to south, the northernmost portion of Fulton County, encompassing Milton and northern Alpharetta, is located in the Etowah River sub-basin of the ACT River Basin (Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin). The rest of north and central Fulton, to downtown Atlanta, is located in the Upper Chattahoochee River sub-basin of the ACF River Basin (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin). The bulk of south Fulton County, from Atlanta to Palmetto, is located in the Middle Chattahoochee River-Lake Harding sub-basin of the larger ACF River Basin, with just the eastern edges of south Fulton, from Palmetto northeast through Union Hill to Hapeville, in the Upper Flint River sub-basin of the same larger ACF River Basin.[10]

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


South Fulton Parkway

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

Interstate highways

U.S. highways

State routes

Secondary highways

Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta

Mass transit

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.

Recreational trails


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 politician Charles M. 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.


Historical population
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. 2016 1,023,336 [15] 11.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
1790-1960[17] 1900-1990[18]
1990-2000[19] 2010-2014[20]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 920,581 people, 376,377 households, and 209,215 families residing in the county.[21] The population density was 1,748.0 inhabitants per square mile (674.9/km2). There were 437,105 housing units at an average density of 830.0 per square mile (320.5/km2).[22] The racial makeup of the county was 46.4% white, 44.3% black or African American, 6.9% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 3.4% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 7.5% of the population.[21] In terms of ancestry, 7.7% were English, 7.2% were German, 6.3% were Irish, and 5.4% were American.[23]

Of the 376,377 households, 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 44.4% were non-families, and 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.15. The median age was 34.2 years.[21]

The median income for a household in the county was $56,709 and the median income for a family was $75,579. Males had a median income of $56,439 versus $42,697 for females. The per capita income for the county was $37,211. About 12.0% of families and 15.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.0% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.[24]


Companies headquartered in Fulton County include 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., InterContinental Hotels Group, IBM Internet Security Systems, Mirant Corp., Newell Rubbermaid, Northside Hospital, Piedmont Healthcare, 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.[citation needed]

MaggieMoo's and Marble Slab Creamery had their headquarters in an unincorporated area in the county, however,[citation needed] now those companies are located in neighboring Gwinnett County in Norcross.[25][26]


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.



The Atlanta-Fulton County Library system we know today began in 1902 as the Carnegie Library of Atlanta, one of the first public libraries in the United States. In 9135, the city of Atlanta and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners signed a contract under which library service was extended to all of Fulton County. Then in 1982, Georgia voters passes a constitutional Amendment authorizing the transfer of responsibility for the Library system from the city of Atlanta to the county. On July 1, 1983, the transfer finally became official, and the system was renamed the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.

Under the leadership of Ella Gaines Yates, who was the first African American director of the Library System, a new Central library was opened to the public in May 1988. The building was designed by Marcel Breuer, a participant in the innovative Bauhaus movement, working side-by-side with his associate Hamilton Smith. The Central Library was dedicated on May 25, 1980 and Breuer would die a year later on July, 1981 at the age of 81.

In 2002 after a hundred years of library service to the public, a major renovation of the Central Library was completed.


Under the current director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Dr. Gabriel Morley who was appointed on April 20,2017, the libraries serve as a cultural and intellectual center that enriches the community and empowers all residents with essential tools for lifelong learning. The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System serves the citizens of Fulton County and the City of Atlanta. It is the largest System in the state with 34 different library branches and a collection of more than 2.5 million items. it offers new and creative programs, services and virtual resources customized to meet the needs of each branch's community. A variety of classes are offered to children, teens, and adults. Also available to the customers are the opportunities to visit exhibitions, listen to author's discuss their work, checkout videos, DVD's and CD's. There are also book club discussions that can be attended, people can get homework help, listen to music and see live performances.

In 2016, patrons borrowed over 4.2 million items, made 4 million visits to the libraries and its website had over 4 million hits.



Unincorporated communities

See also


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ Fulton County, The New Georgia Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 133. 
  4. ^ http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Census tracts 78.05, 103.01, 103.03 and 103.04
  7. ^ "Plan to split county hints at racial divide". Retrieved March 19, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  10. ^ "Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Interactive Mapping Experience". Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ "Roswell backs trail along 400"
  14. ^ [3]
  15. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  20. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  22. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  23. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  24. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  25. ^ "Contact Us." MaggieMoo's. Retrieved on February 26, 2010.[dead link]
  26. ^ "Contact Us Archived 2010-02-28 at the Wayback Machine.." Marble Slab Creamery. Retrieved on February 26, 2010.

External links

  • Fulton County, New Georgia Encyclopedia
  • Documents from Fulton County at the Digital Library of Georgia
  • Fulton County Jail Information
  • Fulton County historical marker
  • [5]

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

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