DeKalb County, Georgia

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DeKalb County, Georgia
DeKalb County, Georgia Court House.JPG
Old DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur
Seal of DeKalb County, Georgia
Map of Georgia highlighting DeKalb 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 9, 1822
Named for Johann de Kalb
Seat Decatur
Largest city Dunwoody
 • Total 271 sq mi (702 km2)
 • Land 268 sq mi (694 km2)
 • Water 3.6 sq mi (9 km2), 1.3%
Population (est.)
 • (2013) 713,340
 • Density 2,586/sq mi (998/km²)
Congressional districts 4th, 5th, 6th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

DeKalb County (/dəˈkæb/ də-KAB) is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 691,893,[1] making it the third-most populous county in Georgia. Its county seat is Decatur.[2]

DeKalb County is included in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area. It contains roughly 10% of the city of Atlanta (the other 90% lies in Fulton County). It is the most diverse county in Georgia. DeKalb is primarily a suburban county, and is the second-most-affluent county with an African-American majority in the United States, behind Prince George's County, Maryland, in suburban Washington D.C. and Baltimore.

In 2009, DeKalb earned the Atlanta Regional Commission's "Green Communities" designation for its efforts in conserving energy, water and fuel; investing in renewable energy; reducing waste; and protecting and restoring natural resources.

In recent years, some communities in North DeKalb have incorporated, following a trend in other suburban areas around Metro Atlanta. Dunwoody and Brookhaven are now the largest cities entirely within the county.


DeKalb County was created in 1822 from Henry, Gwinnett and Fayette counties. It was named for Baron Johann de Kalb, a German soldier who fought for the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.[3] The oldest existing house in the county is the 1831 Goodwin House along Peachtree Road in Brookhaven.

In 1853, Fulton County was formed from the western half of DeKalb, divided along a perfectly straight and due north/south line down the middle (along which Moreland Avenue now runs). Until this time, the growing city of Atlanta had been inside DeKalb. Atlanta grew because the city of Decatur did not want to become the railroad terminus in the 1830s, thus a spot at the Thrasherville encampment in western DeKalb was picked to become Terminus and then Marthasville, before becoming Atlanta a few years after its founding. North and southwest Fulton came from two other counties: Milton and southeast Campbell, respectively. DeKalb once extended slightly further north to the Chattahoochee River, but this strip was later given to Milton, and is now the panhandle of Sandy Springs (though residents there identify with Dunwoody).[citation needed]

During the Civil War, much of the Battle of Atlanta was fought in DeKalb.

Until the 1960s, DeKalb was a mainly agricultural county, but as the sprawl of the metropolitan Atlanta region expanded, DeKalb became increasingly urbanized. Finished in 1969, the eastern half of the Interstate 285 beltway, called "the Perimeter", ringed the northeastern and southern edges of the county, placing most of it "inside the Perimeter" along with nearly all of Atlanta. Interstate 675 and Georgia 400 were originally planned to be connected inside the Perimeter, along with the Stone Mountain Freeway (U.S. Highway 78) connecting with the Downtown Connector (a co-signment of I-75/I-85) near Moreland Avenue, destroying many neighborhoods in western DeKalb, but community opposition in the early 1970s spared them this fate of urbanization, although part of the proposed Stone Mountain Tollway later became the Freedom Parkway. Only Interstate 20 and Interstate 85 were successfully built through the county. DeKalb also became one of only two counties to approve MARTA rapid transit in the 1970s; the county now contains the east and northeast heavy rail lines.

Law and government

Presidential elections results in DeKalb County[4]
Year Democratic Republican Others
2012 77.63% 238,224 20.98% 64,392 1.38% 4,242
2008 78.86% 254,594 20.31% 65,581 0.86% 2,671
2004 72.61% 200,787 26.61% 73,570 0.77% 2,152
2000 70.24% 154,509 26.73% 58,807 3.03% 6,664
1996 66.5% 137,903 29.1% 60,255 4.4% 9,071
1992 57.8% 124,559 32.6% 70,282 9.6% 20,594
1988 50.2% 92,521 48.9% 90,179 10.8% 1,550
1984 42.5% 77,329 57.5% 104,697 0.0% 0
1980 49.4% 82,743 44.7% 74,904 5.8% 9,758
1976 56.4% 86,872 43.6% 67,160 0.0% 0
1972 22.6% 30,671 77.4% 104,750 0.0% 0
1968 26.7% 27,796 50.4% 52,485 23.0% 23,956
1964 42.9% 37,154 57.1% 49,448 0.0% 11
1960 50.1% 24,116 49.9% 24,046 0.0% 0

In 1978, following a series of citizen-led studies of DeKalb's government, the delegation to the Georgia General Assembly presented to the voters a proposed constitutional amendment that permitted the General Assembly to propose a form of government for the county, which would have to be voted on by the people of DeKalb County.[5] The amendment was ratified by the voters. In 1979, a charter commission, known as the DeKalb County Government Reorganization Commission, (GRC) was created by the General Assembly.[6] The GRC was composed of 29 citizens from around the county. In November, 1979, it proposed to the DeKalb Delegation that the government be reorganized into two branches, the Board of Commissioners, which would exercise legislative authority, and the CEO, who would exercise the executive authority, assisted directly by an "executive assistant," who possessed the qualifications of a county manager.[7] In 1980, before dealing with the details of the government, the delegation presented the voters of DeKalb County with an "advisory referendum," which asked them to choose whether they would prefer to have the form of government which existed, or whether they would prefer to have the form changed to that which was proposed by the GRC.[8] At the General Primary, held on August 5, 1980, 52.5% of the voters said they wanted a change in the government, and 61.8% said they preferred the form proposed by the GRC.

In 1981, delegation adopted legislation in accordance with the wishes of the voters, and returned the question to DeKalb's voters in 1982, in accordance with Amendment 71. At the general primary, held in August, 1982, the 57.25% of DeKalb's voters approved the change in the government, despite strong opposition from the DeKalb County Commission, and its Chairman, Manuel Maloof.[9] In 2008, the Georgia General Assembly amended the act to allow the Board of the Commissioners to elect their own presiding officer and to set the agenda for meetings of the county commission. The CEO votes on matters of the commission in the case of a tie.[10]

The commission is elected from five small districts and two super-districts that each make up half of the county and overlap the smaller districts.

On July 16, 2013, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal removed then DeKalb County CEO, Democrat Burrell Ellis, who was facing a 15-count indictment, and appointed the District 5 County Commissioner, Lee May, also Democrat, as Interim CEO.[11]

Under the redistricting plan in effect for the 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections for the United States House of Representatives, DeKalb is the only county in the state to be split among four congressional districts. Geographically, most of DeKalb is contained within the 4th District, while western portions of the county are in the 5th District, northern portions are in the 6th District, and the southwestern corner is in the 13th District.[citation needed]

On July 31, 2012, Brookhaven was approved in a referendum to become DeKalb County's 11th city. Incorporation officially took place on December 17, 2012, on which date municipal operations commenced. With a population of around 49,000, it is the largest city in DeKalb County. On Tuesday November 3, 2015, Tucker was approved in a referendum by an "overwhelming majority", 3 to 1 [12] to become DeKalb's 12th city. Incorporation will take place in 2016.

Public safety

DeKalb County fire truck in Brookhaven

Unincorporated DeKalb County is policed by the DeKalb County Police Department, the DeKalb Sheriff's Office[13] which is responsible for serving criminal warrants and securing the courts and county jail, and the DeKalb Marshal's Office.which serves civil processes issued through state court, such as evictions.

Fire services are provided throughout the county by DeKalb County Fire and Rescue.[14] Previously, DeKalb County Fire and Rescue also provided emergency medical services throughout the county; however, in 2013, DeKalb County signed a contract with American Medical Response to provide emergency medical services to the county.[15]

Federal representation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in the Druid Hills CDP as seen from Emory University

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based in the Druid Hills CDP in an unincorporated area in the county.[16][17] The Federal Bureau of Investigation Atlanta Field Office is located in Chamblee.[18][19]

State representation

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice has its headquarters in Avondale Estates, near Decatur.[20][21] The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has its headquarters near Decatur, in an unincorporated area.[22]

The Metro State Prison of the Georgia Department of Corrections was formerly located in an unincorporated area in DeKalb County.[23] Female death row inmates (UDS, "under death sentence") resided in the Metro State Prison.[24] The prison was closed in 2011.[25]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 271 square miles (700 km2), of which 268 square miles (690 km2) is land and 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2) (1.3%) is water.[26]

The county is crossed by the South River and numerous creeks, including Nancy Creek, Snapfinger Creek and two forks of Peachtree Creek. Peachtree Creek and Nancy Creek drain into the Chattahoochee River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. South River drains into the Ocmulgee River and ultimately into the Atlantic Ocean.

The southern two-thirds of DeKalb County, in a line from Druid Hills northeast to Tucker, is located in the Upper Ocmulgee River sub-basin of the Altamaha River basin, while the portion of the county north of that line is located in the Upper Chattahoochee River sub-basin of the ACF River Basin (Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin).[27]

Stone Mountain lies near the eastern border of the county. Soapstone Ridge, parallel to the southern border, was heavily quarried between 1400 and 100 B.C. and objects made from the soapstone have been found as far away as the Great Lakes.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 10,042
1840 10,467 4.2%
1850 14,328 36.9%
1860 7,806 −45.5%
1870 10,014 28.3%
1880 14,497 44.8%
1890 17,189 18.6%
1900 21,112 22.8%
1910 27,881 32.1%
1920 44,051 58.0%
1930 70,278 59.5%
1940 86,942 23.7%
1950 136,395 56.9%
1960 256,782 88.3%
1970 415,387 61.8%
1980 483,024 16.3%
1990 545,837 13.0%
2000 665,865 22.0%
2010 691,893 3.9%
Est. 2014 722,161 [28] 4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[29]
1790-1960[30] 1900-1990[31]
1990-2000[32] 2010-2013[1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 691,893 people, 271,809 households, and 161,453 families residing in the county.[33] The population density was 2,585.7 inhabitants per square mile (998.3/km2). There were 304,968 housing units at an average density of 1,139.7 per square mile (440.0/km2).[34] The racial makeup of the county was 54.3% black or African American, 33.3% white, 5.1% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, 4.5% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 9.8% of the population.[33] In terms of ancestry, 5.9% were English, 5.2% were German, and 3.5% were American.[35]

Of the 271,809 households, 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 40.6% were non-families, and 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.18. The median age was 34.3 years.[33]

The median income for a household in the county was $51,349 and the median income for a family was $60,718. Males had a median income of $43,663 versus $40,288 for females. The per capita income for the county was $28,412. About 12.4% of families and 16.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.2% of those under age 18 and 11.2% of those age 65 or over.[36]

Although Fulton County is more populous, DeKalb has the highest population density of any county in the Atlanta metropolitan area.


Major employers in DeKalb County include:

Diplomatic missions

The Consulate-General of Mexico in Atlanta is located in the North Druid Hills CDP.[41][42] The Consulate-General of Guatemala in Atlanta is located in the North Atlanta CDP.[43][44] The Consulate-General of Peru in Atlanta is located in an unincorporated section of DeKalb County.[45]


Mass transit

Xpress GA / RTA commuter buses and MARTA heavy rail subway and buses serve the County.


Primary and secondary education

Public schools

The portion of DeKalb County not within the city of Atlanta or the city of Decatur is served by DeKalb County School District (formerly DeKalb County School System). The Atlanta portion is served by Atlanta Public Schools. The Decatur portion is served by Decatur City School District.

On December 17, 2012, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced that it had downgraded the DeKalb County Schools System's status from "on advisement" to "on probation" and warned the school system that the loss of their accreditation was "imminent."[46]

Private schools

Private schools in DeKalb County include:

From its opening in 1990 until 2003,[48] the Seigakuin Atlanta International School was located on the property of Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, an unincorporated area.[49]

Higher education

Agnes Scott College is a private, all female, undergraduate liberal arts college.

Emory University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university. It is a member of the Association of American Universities, an association of leading research universities in the US and Canada. The university consists of the following divisions: Emory College of Arts and Science, the Laney Graduate School, Candler School of Theology, Goizueta Business School, Emory University School of Law, Rollins School of Public Health, and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

Mercer University is a private, coeducational, faith-based university with a Baptist heritage. The main campus is in Macon. The Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus is in DeKalb County; it houses the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology along with programs of the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, the School of Medicine, and the Tift College of Education.

Oglethorpe University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts school and is named after James Oglethorpe, founder of the Georgia Colony.

Georgia Perimeter College (formerly DeKalb College) has three campuses within the county and offers two-year associate degrees.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College (formerly DeKalb Technical College) is the largest vocational institution in Georgia. Georgia Piedmont Technical College trains students in business, engineering, technologies, health, human services, industrial arts, information systems, and transportation.

DeVry University offers bachelor's and master's degrees in healthcare, accounting, business, and management technology.

Columbia Theological Seminary is a theological institution of the Presbyterian Church. More than 640 students are enrolled at Columbia in one of five degree programs: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Theological Studies, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Theology.

Public libraries

The DeKalb County Public Library has 22 branches throughout the county, with three additional branches planned by 2010.

DeKalb County 9/11 Memorial

DeKalb County 9/11 Memorial[50] Memorial Dedication: September 11, 2011

U.S. Marine and Artist/Sculptor Curtis James Miller has designed a memorial that is located in front of the Dekalb County Fire and Police Headquarters. The memorial pays homage to the 343 New York Firefighters, 60 New York and Port Authority Police Officers and the more than 2800 civilian victims of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001.

A piece of steel from one of the World Trade Center Towers in New York City is the centerpiece of this monument. This monument will preserve the memories of the day’s events for generations to come.

Visitor attractions



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town

See also


  • DeKalb Historical Society. Vanishing DeKalb: A Pictoral History. Decatur, Ga.: DeKalb Historical Society, 1985. ISBN 0-9615459-0-9
  • Mason, Herman. "Skip" Jr. African-American Life in DeKalb County, 1821–1970. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-7385-0034-8
  • Owens, Sue Ellen, and Megan Milford. DeKalb County in Vintage Postcards. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0-7385-1401-2
  • Price, Vivian. The History of DeKalb County, Georgia, 1822–1900. Fernandina Beach, Fla.: Wolfe Publishing Company, 1997. ISBN 1-883793-27-0


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External links

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