Canton is located near the center of Cherokee County at 34°13′38″N 84°29′41″W (34.227307, −84.494727). The city lies just north of Holly Springs and south of Ball Ground. Interstate 575 passes through the eastern side of the city, with access from exits 14 through 20. Canton is 40 miles (64 km) north of downtown Atlanta via I-575 and I-75.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.5 km2), of which 18.6 square miles (48.2 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.76%, is water. The Etowah River, a tributary of the Coosa River, flows from east to west through the center of the city.
As of the 2010 census, there were 22,958 people, 8,204 households, and 5,606 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,234.3 people per square mile (476.8/km²). There were 9,341 housing units at an average density of 502.2 per square mile (194.0/km²).
There were 8,204 households, out of which 42.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were headed by married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.8% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77, and the average family size was 3.30.
The racial makeup of the city was 75.6% White, 8.9% African American, 0.8% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 10.2% some other race, 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race comprised 22.5% of the population.
In the city, the population was spread out with 29.7% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 34.7% from 25 to 44, 17.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30.6 years. For every 100 females there were 96.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.0 males.
For the period 2010-12, the estimated median annual income for a household in the city was $46,691, and the median income for a family was $52,432. Male full-time workers had a median income of $36,971 versus $37,092 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,705. About 13.4% of families and 18.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.6% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the site where Canton would be founded lay in the heart of the Cherokee Nation. During the first 100 years of Georgia's history, Northwest Georgia was generally considered "Indian Country" and was bypassed by settlers going West. Georgia had made a treaty with the federal government in 1802 shortly after the Revolutionary War to relinquish its Western Territory (it claimed the Pacific Ocean as its western boundary) in exchange for the removal of all Indians within its boundaries. Although other tribes had been removed, the Cherokee remained. Since this was the heartland of the Cherokee Nation, the state and nation were reluctant to disturb them. But following the Georgia Gold Rush in 1829, European-American settlers ignored the Indian problems and began to move into the area north of Carrollton and west of the Chattahoochee River and named it Cherokee.
Many members of the Cherokee Nation moved west in 1829, but the majority stayed until removed by federal troops sent into the area during the summer of 1838. The remaining Cherokee were gathered and held in forts until the removal could be completed. Present-day Cherokee County had the largest and most southerly of these forts, Fort Buffington, which stood 6 miles (10 km) east of Canton. Today nothing stands to identify its timber structure, but the area is marked by a large piece of green Cherokee marble quarried near Holly Springs. By autumn of 1838, the federal troops had accomplished their mission, and the Cherokee at Fort Buffington were marched off to join other groups on the infamous "Trail of Tears," a lengthy march in worsening winter weather to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.
The new settlers chose a site for a permanent county seat and courthouse in 1833, naming it "Etowah". The name was changed to "Cherokee Courthouse" in 1833. In 1834 it was changed to "Canton" (pronounced cant'n), after the Chinese city of Guangzhou, which was then known in English as Canton (pronounced can tahn). The name was chosen because a group of citizens had dreams of making the Georgia town a center of the silk industry, which was concentrated in China at the time. Though Canton never became a significant silk center, it did become a successful manufacturing community.
During the American Civil War, Canton, which had a population of about 200, was burned between the dates of November 1–5, 1864, by the Union Army under the command of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman. Canton was destroyed by a foraging party of the Ohio 5th Cavalry under the command of Major Thomas T. Heath. At the time the Ohio 5th Cavalry was headquartered in Cartersville. The written order for destruction was given on October 30, 1864, by Brig. General John E. Smith. Union troops were ordered to burn the town because of Confederate guerrilla attacks coming from Canton and directed against the Western and Atlantic Railroad near the town of Cassville. The railroad was a vital supply line for the Union Army from the captured city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to newly captured Atlanta. The Union troops identified the Canton home of Governor Joseph E. Brown for destruction. The same Union party destroyed Cassville, the county seat of neighboring Bartow County, on November 5, 1864, as it has also been a base of guerrilla actions. Cassville never rebuilt, but Canton survived to prosper, as it was the county seat.
Over the years, Canton evolved from unsettled territory to a prosperous mill town known the world over for its "Canton Denim". The original county of 1831 now includes 24 counties. The city of Canton remains the county seat.
The poultry division of Central Soya Corporation located a plant to the region in the 1954 which is now Pilgrims Pride. The Canton Cotton Mills, which produced the famous "Canton Denim", closed in 1981. Since then, Canton has grown as the suburbs of Atlanta have expanded northward, and is currently experiencing its period of greatest population growth, which nearly tripled between 2000 and 2010.
The city of Canton is governed by a council-mayor form of government. The six council members and mayor are each elected to four-year terms by city residents. The city is divided into three council wards, with two council members serving from each ward. The mayor is elected at-large. The Mayor and Council hold the monthly council meetings on the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. All meetings of the City Government Manager and Council are held in the Council Chambers of City Hall located at 151 Elizabeth Street.
The Administration Department of the City Government of Canton consists of the City Government Manager, City Government Council, City Government Administration Manager, City Clerk and Administrative Secretaries. The office is located at Canton City Hall at 151 Elizabeth Street in Canton.
The City Manager is the Administrative Executive of the City of Canton and is responsible for overseeing daily operations of all City departments. The City Manager is appointed by the City Government Manager and The City Government Council, the governing authority of the city.
The City Clerk serves as the Clerk of Council and is responsible for the minutes and records of all meetings. The City Clerk is responsible for serving as custodian of all legal documents for the City.
Many projects are underway in the city including new construction, renovation, and revitalization. Canton has received millions of dollars in grants for park and sidewalk improvements in the city. The city's public buses have established routes and carry thousands of passengers throughout the city from residential areas to downtown, shopping areas, the medical district, and job sites.
The Historic Canton Theatre on Main Street features plays and other special entertainment events throughout the year, injecting new life into the downtown business district. Streets in the downtown area were recently improved, by the removal of parking spaces, as part of the "Streetscapes" program, bringing brick pavers to sidewalks, lamp posts, lush landscaping and intersection upgrades.
In May 2004, the city held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Heritage Park, the first phase of the Etowah River Greenway. The park covers approximately 30 acres (120,000 m2) and has pedestrian and bike trails and a natural amphitheater. The city used to hold concerts and movies in Heritage Park throughout the summer free of charge to its residents.
The city, in partnership with the Metro Atlanta YMCA, constructed an $8 million community center on Waleska Street contiguous to Heritage Park. Now completed, the community center includes an indoor swimming pool, a gymnasium, wellness center, aerobics studio, childcare facilities and the Cherokee Sports Hall of Fame. Although construction was approved for the facility by a local referendum authorizing a "free" community center, the city decided to operate it through the YMCA. People must become members, thus paying a fee for use.
Phase two of the Etowah River Greenway north of Heritage Park consists of recreation fields for softball, baseball, tennis, and soccer. This phase involves approximately 60 acres (240,000 m2) of property.
In June 2004, the Bluffs Parkway opened off Riverstone Boulevard. This parkway, funded by an $8 million grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, bisects the Bluffs at Technology Park, owned by Technology Park/Atlanta. It will be home to 15,000 high-tech jobs when built out in 10 years. The technology park includes a satellite campus of Chattahoochee Technical College, which opened in the fall of 2011.
The federal Hickory Log Creek Dam project, north of the city center, was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The construction and ownership of the Hickory Log Creek Raw Water Reservoir will be shared by the Cobb County / Marietta Water Authority and the City of Canton on a 75% and 25% respective basis; it was completed in December 2007. This water source will provide 44 million US gallons (170,000 m3) of water per day and will be bordered by 15 to 25 acres (6.1 to 10.1 ha) of park land with picnic and other public areas.
In 2009, Canton opened the newly renovated Canton Marketplace. It features a Super Target as well as a Kohl's, Lowe's, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, and more. With the rapid increase in population, restaurants and shopping centers have had a rise in business.
Education in Canton is run by The Cherokee County Government and The Georgia State Government
Cherokee County School District
The Cherokee County School District serves grades pre-school to grade twelve, with 23 elementary schools, six middle schools, and six high schools. As of 2010, the district had 1,766 full-time teachers and over 28,434 students. Schools in Canton and surrounding unincorporated areas include:Avery Elementary School
Buffington Elementary School
Canton Elementary School- Situated on Marietta Highway, next to Cherokee High School and across from Bruster's Ice Cream
Clayton Elementary School
Free Home Elementary School
Hasty Elementary School
Hickory Flat Elementary School
Joseph Knox Elementary School- Located in the River Green neighborhood across from the Franklin Park Townhomes
Liberty Elementary School- Next to Freedom Middle School off Bells Ferry Road
Macedonia Elementary School
Sixes Elementary School- Off of Sixes Road, near Freedom Middle School
Indian Knoll Elementary School
Creekland Middle School
Dean Rusk Middle School
Freedom Middle School- Next to Liberty Elementary School on Bells Ferry Road
Teasley Middle School- Off of Knox Bridge Hwy near River Green
Cherokee High School
Sequoyah High School
Etowah High School
Creekview High School
Chattahoochee Technical College (Canton Campus)
The Cherokee County Airport (FAA LOC ID: 47A) is located adjacent to I-575 7 miles (11 km) northeast of downtown Canton.
A redevelopment project currently underway includes an already completed 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) terminal, the ongoing lengthening of the runway from its current 3,414 to 5,000 feet (1,041 to 1,524 m), a new parallel taxiway, instrument landing equipment, and new hangars. The new facilities will accommodate 200 hangared corporate aircraft and provide 100 tie-downs for smaller aircraft.Joseph E. Brown, headmaster, attorney and politician, Governor of Georgia 1857-1865, and US Senator. From 1844 he lived in Canton, where he became devoted to public education. He achieved great wealth in railroads and mining after the Civil War. Brown is the only person ever to have been elected governor of Georgia four times.
Josh Holloway, who played James "Sawyer" Ford of the television series Lost, attended Cherokee High School in Canton.
Bruce Miller, current NFL player (San Francisco 49ers)
Audio, R&B group, all live in Canton.
Mark Anthony Cooper, entrepreneur, founded the Cooper Ironworks in Etowah in 1847.
Ron Bath, world arm wrestling heavyweight champion. 2016 World Armwrestling League finalist.