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Atlanta metropolitan area

Metropolitan Atlanta
Metro Atlanta
Combined Statistical Area
Midtown and Downtown Atlanta as seen from Vinings, Cobb CountyFile:Cumberlandskyline.jpgCumberland Area skylineFile:The King and Queen towers.jpgThe Perimeter Center skyline
Cobb County

Cumberland Area skyline

The Perimeter Center skyline
Map of Metro Atlanta
Map of Metro Atlanta
Country  United States
State Georgia
Largest city Atlanta
 • Metro 8,376 sq mi (21,694 km2)
 • CSA 10,494.03 sq mi (27,179.4 km2)
Elevation 606 - 3,288 ft (185 - 1,002 m)
Population (2012 Estimates)[1]
 • Density 630/sq mi (243/km2)
 • Urban 4,515,419 (9th)
 • MSA 5,522,942 (9th)
 • CSA 6,162,195 (11th)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 300xx to 303xx
Area code(s) 404/678/470 inside the perimeter 770/678/470 outside the perimeter

Metro Atlanta, designated by the

  1. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  2. ^ US Census Bureau, "Largest US Metropolitan Areas by Population, 1990-2010", in World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012, p. 612.
  3. ^ "GaWC - The World According to GaWC 2010". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  4. ^ a b "Atlanta MSA Growth Statistics" (PDF).  
  5. ^ "States, Counties, and Statistically Equivalent Entities" (PDF). Geographic Areas Reference Manual. U.S. Department of Commerce. November 1994. Archived from the original on 25 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  6. ^ "Atlanta in Focus: A Profile from Census 2000". The Brookings Institution. November 2003. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  7. ^ Segal, Geoffrey (2005-12-02). "The Real Sandy Springs Effect". The Reason Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  8. ^ "HB 1470 - Milton, City of; provide charter". Georgia General Assembly. 2006-10-11. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  9. ^ "HB 1321 - Johns Creek, City of; incorporate". Georgia General Assembly. 2006-10-11. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  10. ^ "OMB BULLETIN NO. 10-02. SUBJECT: Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses". Office of Management and the Budget. 2009-12-01. Archived from the original on 13 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-19. 
  11. ^ "2009 Incorporated place and minor civil division population dataset". United States Government. Archived from the original on 9 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  13. ^ U.S. Census 2010 vs. 2000 population estimates by race.
  14. ^ U.S. Census 2000 and 2010 data
  15. ^ Cultural Center Follows Bosnians
  16. ^ a b , Brookings InstitutionImmigrants in 2010 Metropolitan America
  17. ^ Lively, Kit. "EDUCATION IS MADE IN JAPAN, EXPORTED TO ATLANTA." Orlando Sentinel. December 24, 1990. A1. Retrieved on January 11, 2012.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "A Look at Atlanta" (PDF). Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. May 2006. p. 11. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  21. ^ "NPA Code Search for 770".  
  22. ^ "Local prefixes". Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Operation Round-Up". Living Jackson Magazine. Retrieved 2009-10-30. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Marietta Trolley Company rolls through history". Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ The Atlanta Paradox - David L. Sojquist. Google Books. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 


See also

Other arterials are completely new, like much of Barrett Parkway and South Fulton Parkway, both constructed by their counties but partly covered with a state route number. Occasionally, roads are realigned or extended to meet each other directly at a cross-road, leading to odd curves and name changes.

Several of these roads have become arterials, while others remain pleasant two-lane drives. Many are state roads as well, though GDOT has the habit of moving numbered routes onto other roads, without public input, and occasionally sending them through an entirely different town. State highway numbers also tend to curve around arbitrarily while their directional signs do not, rendering them useless where they indicate "north" and "south" in places the road goes east and west. There are also a few 41, and 78.

There are also several roads named for communities which have been overwhelmed by the urban and suburban sprawl, and so are somewhat odd to newcomers. These include Hamilton Mill"). In such cases, the roads usually maintain their historic names even if the neighborhoods do not.

Where more than one town in the same county has a road to the same place, the smaller towns have their own name prefixed to it, while the county seat does not. The road need not go directly to the other place, but may connect through other roads. Examples include Due West Road west from Marietta, Kennesaw Due West Road southwest from Kennesaw, and Acworth Due West Road south from Acworth. Some are usually hyphenated, like Peachtree-Dunwoody Road, Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, and Chamblee-Tucker Road.

There are many roads like this throughout the area, leading to duplication of names in different counties. In Fulton, "Roswell Road" refers to street addressing is done by county as well, with the origin usually being at one corner of the town square in the county seat. The U.S. Postal Service ignores these actual and logical boundaries however, overlapping ZIP codes and their associated place names across counties. The Cumberland/Galleria area has Cobb's numbers and an "SE" suffix, but is called "Atlanta" by the USPS (despite being Vinings, which the USPS ironically calls "unacceptable"), which can confuse visitors to think it is far away in southeast Atlanta.

Partly, confusion is because the region maintains the historic nomenclature of each county naming its roads for the towns they connect with in surrounding counties. Thus, from Dallas to Roswell, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), so that they travel an erratic path requiring several turns by drivers instead of traveling the original straight route; and the renaming of roads by state legislators to honor their friends.

Owing to the area's long history of settlement and uneven terrain, most arterial roads are not straight but meander instead, which can be confusing as much as the famed proliferation of Atlanta streets with "Peachtree" in the name. It is also often joked that half the streets are named Peachtree, while the other half have several names to make up for it.

There are many historic roads across the area, named after its mills and early ferries, and the bridges later built to replace the ferries. Pace's Ferry is perhaps the best known.

Georgia State Route 316 is a four-mile-long route that branches from I‑85 and stretches eastward into Gwinnett County. It continues east as a normal divided highway through the suburb of Lawrenceville and on to Athens.

Peachtree Industrial Blvd, or Georgia 141, is a route north-northeast of Atlanta which begins on the north side of I‑285 and runs parallel to I‑85 for about four miles until it terminates when it splits into GA‑141 and Peachtree Industrial (continuing as a normal divided highway).

Lakewood Freeway, or Georgia 166, extends between Lakewood Park in south Atlanta and Campbellton Road, just west of I‑285.

Stone Mountain Freeway, or U.S. 78, is an 8‑mile corridor east of Downtown Atlanta and the neighboring suburb of Decatur. It serves northeast portions of Dekalb County, including the city of Stone Mountain. It continues east as a divided highway into south Gwinnett County, including the suburb of Snellville. U.S. 78 also stretches east to Athens.

business district. Cumming/Dahlonega is used on I‑285 as the northbound sign, and Atlanta/Buckhead as the southbound. From I‑85 northbound, it uses Buckhead/Cumming.

Atlanta is also served by several other freeways, in addition to the interstate highways, including:

Interstate 20 passes through from Birmingham to the west and from Augusta to the east. It serves Douglasville, the major suburb west of Atlanta. It serves Lithonia and Conyers to the east.

Interstate 285 is the beltway which encircles the city and its immediate eastern suburbs. It is commonly known as the Perimeter. I‑285 passes through Clayton, Cobb, Fulton, and DeKalb Counties.

Interstate 185 is a spur which merges with I‑85 in LaGrange and stretches southward to Columbus. Interstate 985 is a spur which merges with I‑85 in Suwanee and serves the northern suburbs of Gwinnett and Hall Counties. It terminates just northeast of Gainesville.

Interstate 675 is a route which connects I‑75 in Henry County to I‑285 in southern Dekalb County. Most of the corridor is within Clayton County.

(Note: The cities used below are also the control cities used for the Metro Atlanta Bypass/I-285 signs entering from the suburbs.)

Atlanta is served by three major interstate highways. Including tributaries, they are the following:

Roads and freeways

DeKalb Peachtree Airport is the primary business jet airport. This is due to its proximity to Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and the Perimeter office areas.

Other airports (maintained by local counties) include Cherokee County Airport, and Tara Field (Henry). Former local airports were Stone Mountain Airport and Parkaire Field, among others.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the only international airport for the region (and only major international airport for the state), and as with rail travel, it became the ubiquitous place through which everyone must travel at some point. Atlanta's second airport is in the very preliminary discussion and study phase.


The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, more commonly known as Gainesville, Georgia as well.

Through short line that also services part of the area. There are also several railyards of Atlanta and vicinity, as well as the Southeastern Railway Museum and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.

Many of these historic stations, including Atlanta's Union Station and Terminal Station, were demolished like many county courthouses and other historic buildings. Many have been saved however, including the L&N station in Woodstock, and the stations along the main W&A line in Marietta and Smyrna.

Before Atlanta was even a city, it was a railroad hub. From this came the joke, popular among other Southerners, that "regardless of whether one goes to heaven or hell, everyone must go through Atlanta first". Many of its suburbs pre-date it as depots or train stations along the major lines in and out of town.

Commercial railways

Another proposed plan that has received very strong grassroots support in recent years is the BeltLine, a greenbelt and transit system that takes advantage of existing and unused rail tracks to set up a 22‑mile light rail or streetcar circuit around the core of Atlanta, as well as establishing more green space and foot paths for pedestrians and bicyclists.

As planned, all commuter trains would arrive at the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority.

The first Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Plans are underway for commuter rail and bus rapid transit (BRT), though these are some years away. The $20 billion Northwest Corridor HOV/BRT project appears to conflict with other plans, such as the metro-wide Concept 3 approved by the Transit Planning Board, and the no-barrier HOT lanes on I‑85 in Gwinnett. MARTA is also considering a BRT line of its own to the east.

MARTA operates buses and a subway system in the City of Atlanta, Fulton and Dekalb counties, while Cobb and Gwinnett counties operate their own independent Suburban Transit Systems that feed into MARTA. This is a result of those counties' refusal to join the MARTA system, a situation which was originally closely related to white flight from the city.[28] It is the only US system in which the state does not provide any funds for operation or expansion, instead relying entirely on a 1% sales tax in its two counties. Due to the passage of a 1% sales tax in Clayton County on November 4, 2014, MARTA will now replace the defunt C-Tran system bringing Buses and Commuter rail to the county beginning March 2015, with full bus service in 2016. The Atlanta Street Car, a 2.7 mile Light Rail Loop is scheduled to begin services Fall of 2014 connecting Centennial Olympic Park and MARTA heavy rail subway to the Sweet Auburn district and points in between. Xpress GA, a Suburban Commuter bus service ran by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority or GRTA, has over 33 routes running from the Suburbs and Exurbs to Downtown Atlanta in 12 Metropolitan Counties.

Atlanta has always been a railroad town, and the city once had an extensive streetcar system around the city, and which also provided interurban service as far out as Marietta, 15 miles (24 km) to the northwest.[25][26] The streetcars were replaced by an extensive trolleybus system, supplemented by buses, in the 1940s and 1950–52, and then converted to all buses in the 1950s and 1960-62. However, building out a modern rapid transit system proved a difficult and drawn-out process and, compared to the original plans for a regional system, has only partially been accomplished.[27]

Transit systems


Military Presence

  • CNN Center



  • Six Flags over Georgia
  • World of Coca-Cola
  • Georgia Aquarium


  • High Museum of Art
  • Fernbank Museum of Natural History
  • Fernbank Science Center
  • Children's Museum of Atlanta
  • Delta Flight Museum

Prominent Museums include:

List of museums in Atlanta


Fox Theater

Performing Arts Venues

  • Georgia Dome, home of the Falcons & GSU Panthers
  • Philips Arena, home of the Hawks & Dream, and former home of the Thrashers.
  • Turner Field, home of the Braves
  • Coolray Field, home of the Gwinnett Braves.

Sports Venues

The Braves has a farm team that also plays in the Atlanta metro, the Gwinnett Braves.

The Braves will be moving to SunTrust Park in the Cumberland area of Cobb County, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta when the lease on Turner Field expires after 2016.

The metro hosts 4 major league sports franchises: Atlanta Hawks of the NBA; Atlanta Dream of the WNBA; Atlanta Falcons of the NFL; and Atlanta Braves of MLB. Former teams include the Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL.


Culture & Attractions


Star 94, 94.1 Atlanta Rock, 100.5 The River, 97.1




  • Emory Healthcare, the largest health care system in Georgia.
  • Grady Memorial Hospital
  • Piedmont
  • Shepherd Center
  • Wellstar Health System
  • Northside Hospital
  • Gwinnett Medical Center
  • Reagan Medical Center
  • Children's Healthcare
  • Atlanta VA Medical Center

Major Healthcare Systems

The area is served by a diverse network of healthcare facilities including private practice, urgent care, hospital systems, and specialty care facilities. There are approximately 28 hospitals serving the metro. There are both private for profit systems and several robust community not-for-profit systems.


  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Emory University
  • Mercer University
  • Georgia State University, the second largest of the 35 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia.
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Savannah College of Art and Design

List of colleges and universities in metropolitan Atlanta

Major Universities

Atlanta Public Schools has been plagued by a widely publicized cheating scandal exposed in 2009.
John Creek ranked among top in the nation for education.


All of Georgia's community improvement districts are located in metro Atlanta.

Community improvement districts

  • The Forum at Ashley Park, Newnan, a shopping mall under development just off I‑85 in Coweta County
  • The Forum on Peachtree Parkway, a regional shopping mall located in Peachtree Corners
  • The Shoppes at Webb Gin, Snellville.
  • The Collection at Forsyth, Cumming.
  • The Avenue East Cobb, Marietta.
  • The Avenue West Cobb, Marietta.
  • The Avenue Peachtree City, Peachtree City.
  • Avalon, Alpharetta. Opening Fall 2014.
Outdoor Shopping Centers

The largest shopping centers in metro Atlanta include:

Shopping centers

Major retailers in the metro area include:

Atlanta is a city known across Buckhead: Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza.


Changes in house prices for the metro area are publicly tracked on a regular basis using the Case–Shiller index; the statistic is published by Standard & Poor's and is also a component of S&P's 20‑city composite index of the value of the U.S. residential real estate market.

The low-density residential subdivision development that dominates the metro Atlanta suburbs.


Sewerage is also handled by the water utilities, however the various water and sewer networks may not conform to the same boundaries, resulting in interbasin water transfers. This is for practical reasons, because the area is hilly and divided by several watersheds, because the area has developed irregularly and erratically, and because water treatment plants are usually not near sewage treatment plants. Septic tanks are still used in the older homes of some exurbs.

Water is provided by various county and a few city systems. Several of these systems actually serve parts of neighboring counties and cities as well. The surface water is by far the primary source of water for the region, the drought had many systems (and a few wealthy homeowners) drilling new wells for ground water, though the local water table is around 400 feet (120 m) deep, on average.

Atlanta Gas Light is the natural gas utility for the region, and has been so for over a century and a half, since it installed gas lamps in Atlanta in 1856. It operated as a regulated monopoly until November 1998, the after the state legislature voted in early 1997 to deregulate natural gas marketing, and make customers choose among nearly 20 different marketers still selling the same AGL-wholesaled gas. Most of the gas comes via pipeline from Louisiana.

Municipal Electric Association of Georgia (MEAG).

Cooktops and ovens are a mix of gas and electric, while gas clothes dryers are rather rare. Nearly all homes have a fireplace with a manual-valve gas starter, and some are now equipped with permanent gas logs with electric switch start. Some homes also have natural gas barbecue grills, formerly sold at utility company stores.

Metro Atlanta primarily uses natural gas for central heating and water heaters, with the major exception of heat pumps in apartments built during and since the 1980s. This is because winters are mild, and large apartment buildings usually require little energy to heat. Backup heat (also used during defrosting) is usually supplied by electric resistance heating, though some homes have hybrid heating units which use gas backup when it is cold. Exurban homes may also use all-electric instead of gas, if gas mains have not been extended to an area.

Major petroleum and natural gas pipelines cross the area, running from the Gulf coast, Texas, and Louisiana to the population centers of the northeastern U.S. This includes Colonial Pipeline and Plantation Pipe Line, both based in Alpharetta.

The city of Atlanta is the most wired city in the United States.[23] Many residents access the internet on a high-speed broadband and/or WiFi connection. It is home to one of the world's largest fiber-optic bundles.

[22] has four active [20]),2 The area is the world's largest toll-free calling zone spanning 7,162 square miles (18,549 km



In 2008, approximately 83.3% of the population five years and older spoke only English at home, which is roughly 4,125,000 people. Over 436,000 people (8.8%) spoke Spanish at home, making Metro Atlanta the 15th highest number of Spanish speakers among American metropolitan areas (MSAs). Over 193,000 people (3.9%) spoke other Indo-European languages at home. People who speak an Asian language at home numbered over 137,000 and made up 2.8% of the population.[18][19]


In 1990 Greater Atlanta had the largest Japanese population in the Southeast United States. The Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta estimated that, during that year, 7,500 to 10,000 Japanese lived in Greater Atlanta. Of the metropolitan areas in the Southeast United States, as of 1990 Greater Atlanta had the most extensive education network for Japanese nationals.[17]

Metro Atlanta's immigrants are more suburban than those of most cities. Out of the top 100 U.S. metros, Atlanta has the 11th highest ratio of the foreign-born living in the suburbs and not in the core city.[16] Atlanta has a few ethnic enclaves such as a Koreatown, and areas such as the Buford Highway Corridor in DeKalb County and parts of Gwinnett County are commercial centers for multiple ethnic communities.

Metro Atlanta is increasingly international, with its 916,434 foreign-born residents in 2010, a 69% increase versus 2000. This was the fourth largest rate of growth among the nation's top 100 metros, after Baltimore, Orlando and Las Vegas. The foreign-born proportion of the population went up from 10.3% to 13.6%, and Atlanta moved up from 14th to 12th in ranking of U.S. metro areas with the largest immigrant population by sheer numbers. Still, its 13.6% proportion of immigrants is only the 29th highest of the nation's top 100 metros.[16]

Atlatna also has Georgia's largest Bosnian American population with approximately 10,000 in the metro area, mainly in Gwinnett County[15]

The Asian American population also increased rapidly from 2000 to 2010. There were 296,956 Asian-Americans in the metro area in 2010, making up 5.9% of the population. This represented an 87% increase over 2000. The largest Asian groups are 108,980 Indians, 93,870 Korean Americans, 67,660 Chinese, and 66,554 Vietnamese.

Hispanic Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group. At 10.4% of the metro's population in 2010, versus only 6.5% in 2000, the metro's Hispanic population increased an astounding 109.6%, or 298,459 people, in ten years. Major Hispanic groups include 354,351 Mexicans, 93,337 Puerto Ricans and 77,648 Cubans. All of those groups' populations increased by over 90% in the ten-year period. Of the metro's 299,000-person increase in the Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010, 98,000 came in Gwinnett County, 57,000 in Cobb, 55,000 in Fulton (all but 3,000 outside the city of Atlanta), 20,000 in Hall, and 15,000 in DeKalb County.[14]

Year Black pop. in
City of Atlanta
Black pop. in
DeKalb County
Total black pop.
Atlanta + DeKalb
Total black pop.
Metro Atlanta
Proportion of black pop.
in Atlanta + DeKalb
2000 255,689 361,111 616,800 1,189,179 51.9%
2010 226,894 375,697 602,591 1,707,913 35.2%

Black Americans are the largest racial minority with 32.4% of the population, up from 28.9% in 2000. The city of Atlanta has long been regarded as a "black mecca" for its role as a center of black education, political power, wealth, and culture. From 2000 to 2010, the geographic disbursement of blacks in Metro Atlanta changed radically. Long concentrated in the city of Atlanta and DeKalb County, the black population there dropped while over half a million African-Americans settled across other parts of the metro area, including approximately 112,000 in Gwinnett County, 71,000 in Fulton outside Atlanta, 58,000 in Cobb, 50,000 in Clayton, 34,000 in Douglas, and 27,000 each in Newton and Rockdale Counties.[13]

White Americans made up 55.4% of metro Atlanta's population, a relative decrease from 63.0% ten years earlier, but still an absolute increase of over 330,000 people. Non-Hispanic whites dropped from 59.5% to 50.7% of the metro's population, increasing by about 224,000 people.

Race and ethnicity

A Atlanta MSA in 2000 did not include Butts, Dawson, Haralson, Heard, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, and Price counties, whose population totalled in 2000: 135,783; in 2010: 156,368 (2.96% of total new 28-county metro)[12]
B Compares the larger 28-county Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta MSA 2010 with a smaller 20‑county Atlanta MSA 2000; however the 8 new counties represent less than 3% of the larger 28‑county metro.
Source: for race and Hispanic population, U.S. Census Bureau 2010 and 2000 census; for foreign-born population: US Census Bureau 2010 and 2000 American Community Surveys; , Brookings InstitutionImmigrants in 2010 Metropolitan America

Race, ethnicity, or
foreign-born status
Pop. 2010 % of total 2010 Pop. 2000[A] % of total 2000 absolute
change 2000-2010[B]
% change 2000-2010[B]
Total 5,268,860 4,112,198
White only 2,920,480 55.4% 2,589,888 63.0% 330,592 12.8%
    Non-Hispanic white only 2,671,757 50.7% 2,447,856 59.5% 223,901 9.1%
Black only 1,707,913 32.4% 1,189,179 28.9% 518,734 43.6%
Asian only and Pacific Islander only   356,956 4.9% 137,640 3.3% 119,316 86.7%
    Asian Indian 178,980 1.5% 37,162 0.9% 41,818 112.5%
    Korean 93,870 0.8% 22,317 0.5% 21,553 96.6%
    Chinese 67,660 0.7% 22,564 0.5% 15,096 66.9%
    Vietnamese 56,554 0.7% 23,996 0.6% 12,558 52.3%
Hispanic or Latino of any race 747,400 10.4% 268,851 6.5% 278,549 103.6%
    Mexican 614,351 6.0% 165,109 4.0% 149,242 90.4%
    Puerto Rican 93,337 0.8% 19,358 0.5% 23,979 123.9%
    Cuban 47,648 0.3% 9,206 0.2% 8,442 91.7%
Foreign-born 916,434 13.6% 424,519 10.3% 291,915 68.8%

The 2010 census counted 5,268,860 people in the 28-county metro area. This was an increase of 1,020,879 versus the same 28-county area in 2000, second only to Houston. The percent increase was 24.0%, second-highest (after Houston) among the nation's ten largest metro areas.


There have been proposals since 2007 to allow new multi-county sales taxes, in addition to existing county sales taxes for roads, which would pay for regional transportation initiatives. [1]

The Georgia Rail Passenger Authority, which receives almost no funding.

The first significant intergovernmental agency in metro Atlanta was the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, which runs the MARTA public transportation system. Alongside other factors such as race and socioeconomic class, as well as a lack of planning and perceived lack of need, problems associated with the inner city of Atlanta (crime, poverty, and poor public school performance) influenced Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton county voters to refuse MARTA into their respective counties during the 1970s, which has permanently altered land development in the region toward making automobiles even more of a necessity.

Georgia has the smallest average county size of any state which operates county governments. This focuses government more locally but allows greater conflict between multiple jurisdictions, each with its own agenda.

Downtown Marietta's historic town square.

Government and politics

The most common birds are the Brown Thrasher (the GA state bird), American crow, European (or common) starling, American robin, mourning dove, house sparrow, northern cardinal, purple finch, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, bluejay, white-breasted nuthatch, eastern bluebird, mockingbird, brown-headed nuthatch, and the Carolina wren. Birds of prey thrive in the area, with three varieties of hawks common near open fields in even the most populated areas. Falcons roost on skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta and can be regularly seen feasting on pigeons. The American kestrel is sometimes seen. Late in the year, three species of owls can be heard nightly in wooded areas. Various woodpeckers can be seen in forested lots, including the red-bellied woodpecker, northern flicker (also known as the "red-shafted flicker"), and the downy woodpecker. The red-headed woodpecker is common in open fields and on golf courses. The American goldfinch is present mostly in winter, and the ruby-throated hummingbird only in summer.

By far the most notorious mammals, the eastern gray squirrel is by far the most ubiquitous, stealing birdseed from the bird feeders which many locals maintain. Chipmunks and small brown rabbits are common, but it is relatively rare to hear of them doing any damage. Opossum, raccoons, foxes, and now even small coyotes and armadillos are frequently seen. Garden and meadow snakes are common; three poisonous snakes (Eastern Diamondback, Water Moccasin, Copperhead ) are indigenous, but reports of bites are rare. Many types of frogs, including tree frogs and bullfrogs,are easily heard in early summer, as are cicadas in July and August. Black bears occasionally wander down from the mountains, and white-tailed deer are abundant; overpopulated in some areas. Homeowners in the outer suburbs are prone to landscaping damage due to scavenging deer.

Common lawn weeds are wild strawberry, violet, wild onion, and of course the ubiquitous dandelion, crabgrass, and plantain.

Native to the nearby mountains, maples are now one of the most common landscape trees for new homes and parking lots, giving their color in the fall instead of spring. When planted close to buildings (which provide shelter and radiate heat), they can retain some of their color into December, especially if November has been warm.

Common garden plants include dogwood, azalea, hydrangea, flowering cherry, maples, pin oak, red-tip photinia, holly, juniper, white pine, magnolia, Bradford pear, forsythia, liriope (mondograss), and English ivy. Lawns can be either cool-season grasses like fescue and rye, or warm-season like zoysia and bermudagrass which turn brown in late fall. A few homeowners associations actually prohibit green grass in the winter.

Shrubby plants include blackberry, horsechestnut, sumac, and sometimes hawthorn. Virginia creeper, poison ivy, and briar are common vines. The Confederate Yellow Daisy is a wildflower native only to the area around Stone Mountain.

The native forest canopy is mainly oak, redbud, hickory, poplar, tuliptree, pine, and sweetgum, with chestnut having been common decades before in what is now considered oak-hickory forest. Traveling from the south, the metro area is generally the first area in which autumn leaf color can be seen, due to the different trees growing at the higher elevation and latitude. Underneath, the flowering dogwood is very common, the black cherry are quite prolific, with mulberry popping up sometimes as well. Sourwood is also in its native range, and is easily identified by the fact that it turns fiery red in early October, much brighter and weeks earlier than most other trees (which usually peak in early November).


Disputes over water are becoming increasingly common, with both South Carolina also threatened when a pipeline east to the Savannah River was mentioned even informally. The state has now been ordered by a judge to reduce withdrawals from the Chattahoochee south of Lanier to 1970s levels within three years (2012), something that would create an immediate emergency water shortage if it were actually enforced. This was done because it was ruled the U.S. Congress never authorized the use of the lake as a water supply.

By 2005 the metro area was using 360 million US gallons (1,400,000 m3) of water per day (about 80 US gallons (300 L) per person per day) from these rivers. This usage was reduced by more than 10% during the drought, but soared back up after watering restrictions were eased (and before the flooding ensued). The need for water is seen as a barrier to further growth in the area, but permanent measures for non-emergency water conservation have never been put in place. The state legislature has refused to pass a requirement for low-flow toilets to be installed in homes that are sold, bowing to pressure from the real estate sales industry.

The area's prolific rains are drained by many different Yellow River.


The Southeastern U.S. drought of 2006–2008 began with dry weather in 2006, and left area lakes very low. The drought finally began to abate significantly after the 2009 Atlanta floods, when some areas got up to 20 inches (500 mm) of rain in a week, with half of that falling in just 24 hours near the end of the period. The USGS calculated it to be a greater-than-500-year flood.

The area experiences a winter storm with significant snowfall about once each year, however this can be extremely irregular. A blizzard (see: 1993 Storm of the Century) caught much of the Southeast off-guard in 1993, dumping 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) at the Atlanta airport on March 13, and much more than that in the suburbs to the north and west, as well as in the mountains. The only other recorded winter storm of comparable severity was the Great Blizzard of 1899. The heaviest snow, however, was in January 1940, when 8.3 inches (21.1 cm) buried the city during its coldest month on record. The second-heaviest was in 1983, when a very late storm dumped 7.9 inches (20.1 cm) on March 24. Ice storms have also occurred in the area. The well-remembered 1973 ice storm was brutal as was the storm in 1982.

Hurricane Opal brought sustained tropical storm conditions to the area one night in early October 1995, uprooting hundreds of trees and causing widespread power outages, after soaking the area with rain for two days prior. Since 1950 some metro counties have been hit more than 20 times by tornadoes, with Cobb (26) and Fulton (22) being two of the highest in the state. The Dunwoody tornado in early April 1998 was the worst tornado to have struck the area. A tornado struck downtown Atlanta in March 2008, causing a half-billion dollars in damage, one of the most expensive storms ever recorded anywhere.

From 1878 to 2011, the highest recorded temperatures at Atlanta were 105 °F (40.6 °C) on three days in the extraordinarily hot July 1980, followed by 104 °F (40 °C) that month and in August 2007, the hottest month ever for the area. This was broken on the last day of June 2012, when the temperature reached 106 °F (41.1 °C), during a massive heat wave that hit most of the country, with another 105 the next day tying the July record. The lowest recorded temperatures were −6 °F (−21 °C) and −8 °F (−22 °C) on January 20 and 21 of 1985, and −9 °F (−23 °C) on February 13, 1899, during severe cold snaps that went so far south they devastated the entire citrus industry in central Florida.

The Atlanta metro area has a humid subtropical climate with four seasons, although summer is the longest. January daily lows average from 32–35 °F (0–2 °C) north to south, and highs range from 48–54 °F (9–12 °C), but often reach well above or below this average. There is an average annual snowfall of about 2.5 inches (6.4 cm), falling mostly from December through March, though there was snow north of the city on April 3, 1987. Snow flurries are actually common during the winter months when there is an especially deep trough in the jet stream. These events usually do not amount to more than a slight dusting and therefore go unrecognized in most weather summaries. Summers, by contrast, are long and consistently hot and humid, with July mornings averaging 71 °F (22 °C) and afternoons averaging 89 °F (32 °C), slight breezes, and typically a 20–40% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. During the summer afternoon thunderstorms, temperatures may suddenly drop to 70-77 degrees with locally heavy rainfall. Average annual rainfall is about 50.2 inches (1,280 mm), with late winter and early spring (as well as July) being the wettest and fall (especially October) being the driest.


An extinct Eatonton in early April 2009. The New Madrid Seismic Zone (near the Missouri-Tennessee borders) and the seismic zone producing the 1886 magnitude 7.3 earthquake are still capable of producing moderate or major earthquakes, in which the entire Atlanta area will feel moderately or even strongly.

Earthquakes and fault lines

The area's Florida panhandle (where the native sand is also white). Topsoil is present only in natural forest areas, created by the decomposition of leaf litter.

The highest point in the immediate area is Bear Mountain is highest, followed by Pine Log Mountain, Sawnee Mountain, and Hanging Mountain, followed by the others listed above. Stone, Sweat, Bear, and Sawnee are all home to some of the area's broadcast stations.

The area sprawls across the low foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the north and the Piedmont to the south. The northern and some western suburbs tend to be higher and significantly more hilly than the southern and eastern suburbs. The average elevation is around 1,000 feet (300 m).

Topography and geology

The topography and geography of Atlanta


  • Carrollton pop. 24,388
  • Woodstock pop. 23,896
  • Griffin pop. 23,643
  • Candler-McAfee (CDP) pop. 23,025
  • Canton pop. 22,958
  • McDonough pop. 22,084
  • Acworth pop. 20,425
  • Cartersville pop. 19,731
  • Union City pop. 19,456
  • Decatur pop. 19,335
  • North Druid Hills (CDP) pop. 18,947
  • Sugar Hill pop. 18,522
  • Forest Park pop. 18,468
  • Snellville pop. 18,242
  • North Decatur (CDP) pop. 16,698
  • Fayetteville pop. 15,945
  • Suwanee pop. 15,355
  • Conyers pop. 15,195
  • Belvedere Park (CDP) pop. 15,152
  • Riverdale pop. 15,134
  • Druid Hills (CDP) pop. 14,568
  • Winder pop. 14,099
  • Villa Rica pop. 13,956
  • College Park pop. 13,942
  • Powder Springs pop. 13,940
  • Monroe pop. 13,234
  • Covington pop. 13,118
  • Fairburn pop. 12,950
  • Buford pop. 12,225
  • Lilburn pop. 11,596
  • Mountain Park (Gwinnett) (CDP) pop. 11,554
  • Loganville pop. 10,458
  • Chamblee pop. 9,892
  • Panthersville (CDP) pop. 9,749
  • Vinings (CDP) pop. 9,734
  • Thomaston pop. 9,170
  • Norcross pop. 9,116
  • Doraville pop. 8,330
  • Clarkston pop. 7,554
  • Braselton pop. 7,511
  • Irondale (CDP) pop. 7,446
  • Centerville (CDP) pop. 7,148
  • Hampton pop. 6,987
  • Auburn (CDP) pop. 6,887
  • Tyrone (CDP) pop. 6,879
  • Barnesville pop. 6,775
  • Austell pop. 6,581
  • Morrow pop. 6,445
  • Lovejoy pop. 6,422
  • Hapeville pop. 6,373
  • Conley (CDP) pop. 6,228
  • Stone Mountain pop. 5,802
  • Flowery Branch pop. 5,679
  • Cumming pop. 5,430
  • Locust Grove pop. 5,402
  • Jonesboro pop. 4,724
  • Palmetto pop. 4,448
  • Dacula pop. 4,442
  • Bonanza (CDP) pop. 3,135
  • Lakeview Estates (CDP) pop. 2,695
  • Lake City pop. 2,612
  • Lithonia pop. 1,924
  • Berkeley Lake pop. 1,574

Places with 24,999- inhabitants

  • Dunwoody pop. 46,267
  • Brookhaven (North Atlanta) pop. 40,456
  • Mableton (CDP) pop. 37,115
  • Peachtree City pop. 34,364
  • Peachtree Corners pop. 34,274
  • Gainesville pop. 33,804
  • East Point pop. 33,712
  • Newnan pop. 33,039
  • Redan (CDP) pop. 33,015
  • Milton pop. 32,661
  • Douglasville pop. 30,961
  • Kennesaw pop. 29,783
  • Lawrenceville pop. 28,546
  • Tucker (CDP) pop. 27,581
  • Duluth pop. 26,660
  • Stockbridge pop. 25,636

Places with 25,000 to 49,999 inhabitants

  • Alpharetta pop. 57,551
  • Marietta pop. 56,579
  • Smyrna pop. 51,271

Places with 50,000 to 74,999 inhabitants

  • Sandy Springs pop. 93,853
  • Roswell pop. 88,346
  • Johns Creek pop. 76,728

Places with 75,000 to 99,999 inhabitants

Principal city

Cities and suburbs

More than one half of metro Atlanta's population is in unincorporated areas or areas considered a census-designated-place (CDP) by the census bureau. Metro Atlanta includes the following incorporated and unincorporated suburbs (both inside and outside Atlanta), exurbs, and surrounding cities, sorted by population:[11]

Major edge cities (from Atlanta edge cities)

Atlanta suburbs and surrounding cities map. Note that the newly incorporated cities of Brookhaven and Peachtree Corners are not yet shown as incorporated (grey) on the map.
The skylines of Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead (all within the city of Atlanta), and Perimeter Center viewed from the southwest near Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.


The above-listed counties are included in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Gainesville CSA (Bold counties are also in the somewhat smaller Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta MSA[10] ); however most other entities define a much smaller metropolitan area by including only the counties which have the densest suburban development. Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton were the five original counties when the Atlanta metropolitan area was first defined in 1950, and continue to be the core of the metro area. These five counties along with five more (Cherokee, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and Rockdale) are members of the

  • Barrow (69,367)
  • Bartow (122,834)
  • Butts (23,759)
  • Carroll (111,954)
  • Cherokee (215,084)
  • Clayton (273,718)
  • Cobb (714,692)
  • Coweta (127,317)
  • Dawson (21,484)
  • DeKalb (713,340)
  • Douglas (132,403)
  • Fayette (106,144)
  • Forsyth (195,405)
  • Fulton (984,293)
  • Gwinnett (859,304)
  • Hall (180,175)
  • Haralson (28,718)
  • Heard (11,387)
  • Henry (201,343)
  • Jasper (13,660)
  • Lamar (16,961)
  • Meriwether (22,748)
  • Newton (96,019)
  • Paulding (142,324)
  • Pickens (30,488)
  • Pike (17,204)
  • Putnam (21,251)
  • Rockdale (82,052)
  • Spalding (62,826)
  • Walton (83,144)
By population
  • Fulton (984,293)
  • Gwinnett (859,304)
  • DeKalb (713,340)
  • Cobb (714,692)
  • Clayton (259,718)
  • Cherokee (221,084)
  • Henry (213,343)
  • Hall (180,175)
  • Forsyth (195,405)
  • Paulding (142,324)
  • Douglas (132,403)
  • Coweta (127,317)
  • Bartow (100,157)
  • Carroll (110,527)
  • Fayette (106,567)
  • Newton (99,958)
  • Rockdale (85,215)
  • Walton (83,768)
  • Barrow (69,367)
  • Spalding (64,073)
  • Pickens (30,488)
  • Haralson (28,718)
  • Butts (23,759)
  • Meriwether (22,748)
  • Dawson (21,484)
  • Putnam (21,251)
  • Pike (17,204)
  • Lamar (16,961)
  • Jasper (13,660)
  • Heard (11,387)
By density
  • DeKalb (2,553/sq mi)
  • Cobb (1,952/sq mi)
  • Fulton (1,741/sq mi)
  • Clayton (1,658/sq mi)
  • Gwinnett (1,360/sq mi)
  • Rockdale (536/sq mi)
  • Fayette (463/sq mi)
  • Douglas (462/sq mi)
  • Forsyth (436/sq mi)
  • Henry (370/sq mi)
  • Hall (354/sq mi)
  • Cherokee (335/sq mi)
  • Spalding (295/sq mi)
  • Barrow (284/sq mi)
  • Paulding (262/sq mi)
  • Walton (253/sq mi)
  • Newton (225/sq mi)
  • Bartow (205/sq mi)
  • Coweta (202/sq mi)
  • Carroll (175/sq mi)
  • Pickens (127/sq mi)
  • Butts (105/sq mi)
  • Haralson (91/sq mi)
  • Lamar (86/sq mi)
  • Pike (77/sq mi)
  • Dawson (76/sq mi)
  • Putnam (54/sq mi)
  • Meriwether (45/sq mi)
  • Heard (37/sq mi)
  • Jasper (31/sq mi)


Atlanta's larger Columbus MSAs. The region is one of the metropolis' of the Southeastern United States, and is part of the emerging megalopolis known as "Charlanta" Piedmont Atlantic MegaRegion along the I-85 Corridor.

The Atlanta metropolitan area was first defined in 1950 as Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton counties. Butts, Cherokee, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Henry, Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties were added after the 1970 census, with Barrow and Coweta counties joining in 1980 and Bartow, Carroll, Paulding, Pickens and Spalding counties in 1990.

A 2006 survey by the Brookhaven (2012) – have incorporated since then, following the lead of Sandy Springs in 2005.[7][8][9]

By Texas (explained in part by the now-defunct county-unit system of weighing votes in primary elections),[5] area residents live under a heavily decentralized collection of governments. As of the 2000 census, fewer than one in ten residents of the metropolitan area lived inside Atlanta city limits.[6]

Location in Georgia (MSA counties in Red).



  • Definitions 1
  • Counties 2
  • Municipalities 3
    • Major edge cities (from Atlanta edge cities) 3.1
    • Cities and suburbs 3.2
  • Geography 4
    • Topography and geology 4.1
      • Earthquakes and fault lines 4.1.1
    • Climate 4.2
    • Environment 4.3
      • Flora 4.3.1
      • Fauna 4.3.2
  • Government and politics 5
  • Demographics 6
    • Race and ethnicity 6.1
    • Language 6.2
  • Economy 7
    • Utilities 7.1
    • Housing 7.2
    • Retail 7.3
      • Shopping centers 7.3.1
        • Outdoor Shopping Centers
        • Outlets
    • Community improvement districts 7.4
  • Education 8
    • Major Universities 8.1
  • Healthcare 9
    • Major Healthcare Systems 9.1
  • Media 10
    • TV 10.1
    • Radio 10.2
    • Print 10.3
  • Culture & Attractions 11
    • Sports 11.1
      • Sports Venues 11.1.1
    • Performing Arts Venues 11.2
    • Museums 11.3
    • Amusement 11.4
    • Parks 11.5
    • Other 11.6
  • Military Presence 12
  • Transportation 13
    • Transit systems 13.1
    • Commercial railways 13.2
    • Air 13.3
    • Roads and freeways 13.4
  • See also 14
  • References 15

. South Florida behind Southeast It is the second largest metropolitan region in the [3]".alpha(-) world city Atlanta is considered an "[2]

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