DeKalb County, formed in 1822 from Henry, Gwinnett and Fayette counties, took its name from Baron Johann de Kalb (1721-1780), a Bavarian-born former officer in the French Army, who fought for the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. The oldest existing house in the county is the 1831 Goodwin House along Peachtree Road in Brookhaven.
In 1853, Fulton County 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).
During the Civil War, much of the Battle of Atlanta took place 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 connect 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.
The current Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County is Michael Thurmond. He took office on January 1, 2017.
Current County Commissioners as of January 2017:
Unincorporated DeKalb County is policed by the DeKalb County Police Department, the DeKalb Sheriff's Office, 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. 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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based in the Druid Hills CDP in an unincorporated area in the county. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Atlanta Field Office is located in Chamblee.
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice has its headquarters in Avondale Estates, near Decatur. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has its headquarters near Decatur, in an unincorporated area.
The Metro State Prison of the Georgia Department of Corrections was formerly located in an unincorporated area in DeKalb County. Female death row inmates (UDS, "under death sentence") resided in the Metro State Prison. The prison was closed in 2011.
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.
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).
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.Gwinnett County – north
Rockdale County – east
Henry County – south
Clayton County – southwest
Fulton County – west
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 691,893 people, 271,809 households, and 161,453 families residing in the county. 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). 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. In terms of ancestry, 5.9% were English, 5.2% were German, and 3.5% were American.
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.
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.
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:AT&T Mobility, headquartered in the Lenox Park community adjacent to Buckhead
Cox Communications, headquartered at 1400 Lake Hearn Drive in Dunwoody, the third-largest cable television service provider in the United States
Emory Healthcare, located off of Clifton Road
Emory University, located off of Clifton Road
Kroger, which operates its Atlanta-area offices at 2175 Parklake Drive NE in Northlake
The Consulate-General of Mexico in Atlanta is located in the North Druid Hills CDP. The Consulate-General of Guatemala in Atlanta is located in the North Atlanta CDP. The Consulate-General of Peru in Atlanta is located in an unincorporated section of DeKalb County.
Xpress GA / RTA commuter buses and MARTA heavy rail subway and buses serve the county.
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."
Private schools in DeKalb County include:Benjamin Franklin Academy (unincorporated area)
Marist School (Brookhaven)
Mohammed Schools (unincorporated area)
Paideia School (Atlanta)
Saint Thomas More Catholic Elementary & Middle School (Decatur)
St. Pius X Catholic High School (unincorporated area)
Friends School of Atlanta (Decatur)
Waldorf School of Atlanta (Decatur)
From its opening in 1990 until 2003, the Seigakuin Atlanta International School was located on the property of Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, an unincorporated area.
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. Its 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 (USA). 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.
Luther Rice College and Seminary is a private Christian college and seminary in Lithonia. It offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs in ministry and ministry-related programs.
The DeKalb County Public Library has 22 branches throughout the county, with three additional branches planned by 2010.
The DeKalb County 9/11 Memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2011.
U.S. Marine and sculptor Curtis James Miller 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, Pennsylvania 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. The monument will preserve the memories of the day's events for generations to come.Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
Stone Mountain Park
Fernbank Museum of Natural History
Fernbank Science Center
Michael C. Carlos Museum
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
National Register of Historic Places listings in DeKalb County, Georgia