Decatur is a city in, and county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. With a population of 19,335 in the 2010 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." Prior to 2000, this motto was "A city of homes, schools, and churches." In 1822 Decatur 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. 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 line. 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 later became the city of Atlanta.
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 Confederates' 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 classwhite 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 progressive city with a high level of citizen involvement that retains a small town feel despite its proximity to Atlanta.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,147 people, 8,051 households, and 3,856 families residing in the city. The population densitywas 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 per square mile (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.
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.
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.
The Decatur City School District, which serves the city limits, holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, that consists of four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school.
The DeKalb County School District, which serves unincorporated areas in DeKalb County around Decatur, operates the William Bradley Bryant Center (WBBC) in an unincorporated area near Decatur.
List of Schools
- Decatur High School
- Carl G. Renfroe Middle School
- The 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue
- Glenwood Elementary
- Clairemont Elementary
- Oakhurst Elementary
- Winnona Park Elementary
The district has 224 full-time teachers and over 2,519 students.