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DeKalb County, Georgia facts for kids

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DeKalb County
Stone Mountain Park
Official seal of DeKalb County
Map of Georgia highlighting DeKalb County
Location within the U.S. state of Georgia
Map of the United States highlighting Georgia
Georgia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Georgia
Founded December 9, 1822; 202 years ago (1822)
Named for Johann de Kalb
Seat Decatur
Largest city Atlanta (mostly in Fulton County)
 • Total 271 sq mi (700 km2)
 • Land 268 sq mi (690 km2)
 • Water 3.6 sq mi (9 km2)  1.3%%
 • Total 764,382
 • Density 2,821/sq mi (1,089.0/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 4th, 5th, 6th

DeKalb County ( -kab, DEE-kab) is located in the north central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 764,382, making it Georgia's fourth-most populous county. Its county seat is Decatur.

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). DeKalb is primarily a suburban county.

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 2021, non-profit American Rivers named DeKalb's South River the 4th most endangered river in the United States, citing "the egregious threat that ongoing sewage pollution poses to clean water and public health."

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 contained within the county.

DeKalb is the second most Democratic-leaning county in Georgia, only behind Clayton County. 83 percent of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election were for Joe Biden.


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.


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.

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%
2020 764,382 10.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2019

2020 Census

DeKalb County racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 215,895 28.2%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 384,438 50.3%
Native American 1,161 0.2%
Asian 50,076 6.6%
Pacific Islander 202 <0.1%
Other/Mixed 31,139 4.1%
Hispanic or Latino 81,471 10.7%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 764,382 people, 289,829 households, and 157,737 families residing in the county.

2019 ACS Estimates

2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates: DeKalb County, Georgia
Group Estimate Percent
Total Population 759,297
Population by Sex
Group Estimate Percent
Male 357,937 47.1%
Female 401,360 52.9%
Sex ratio (males per 100 females) 89.2
Population by Age
Group Estimate Percent
Under 5 years 52,559 6.9%
5 to 9 years 44,834 5.9%
10 to 14 years 50,416 6.6%
15 to 19 years 43,454 5.7%
20 to 24 years 46,479 6.1%
25 to 29 years 64,896 8.5%
30 to 34 years 62,846 8.3%
35 to 39 years 55,758 7.3%
40 to 44 years 52,532 6.9%
45 to 49 years 50,424 6.6%
50 to 54 years 47,100 6.2%
55 to 59 years 49,242 6.5%
60 to 64 years 41,058 5.4%
65 to 69 years 35,463 4.7%
70 to 74 years 25,530 3.4%
75 to 79 years 18,353 2.4%
80 to 84 years 8,528 1.1%
85 years and over 9,825 1.3%
Median age (years) 36.3
Population by Race and Ethnicity
Group Estimate Percent
Black or African American 417,974 55.0%
--- Black, not Hispanic or Latino 409,327 53.9%
White 256,943 33.8%
--- White, not Hispanic or Latino 221,799 29.2%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 64,757 8.5%
--- Mexican 37,014 4.9%
Asian 47,162 6.2%
Two or more races 19,017 2.5%
Some other race 15,189 2.0%
American Indian or Alaska Native 11,330 1.5%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander 329 0.0%
Population by Nativity and Citizenship Status
Group Estimate Percent
Native (born in the United States) 643,077 84.7%
--- Born in Georgia 357,361 47.1%
--- Born in other U.S. state 275,353 36.3%
------ Southern state 136,758 18.0%
------ Northeastern state 64,706 8.5%
------ Midwestern state 52,240 6.9%
------ Western state 21,649 2.9%
--- Native born outside U.S. states 10,363 1.4%
Foreign Born 116,220 15.3%
--- Not a U.S. citizen 67,261 8.9%
--- Naturalized U.S. citizen 48,959 6.4%

2010 Census

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.

Diplomatic missions

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.


Major roads and expressways

  • I-20
  • I-85
  • I-285
  • I-675
  • US 23
  • US 29
  • US 78
  • US 278
  • SR 8
  • SR 10
  • SR 12
  • SR 13
  • SR 13 Conn.
  • SR 14
  • SR 42
  • SR 124
  • SR 141
  • SR 154
  • SR 155
  • SR 212
  • SR 236
  • SR 260
  • SR 410

Mass transit

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

Pedestrians and cycling

Currently, there are plans for the construction of a multi-use trail, known as the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The goal of the greenway is to provide residents with close-to-home and close-to-work access to bicycle and pedestrian trails, serve transportation and recreation needs, and help encourage quality of life and sustainable economic growth. The trail will connect the cities of Atlanta, Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville.

  • Arabia Mountain Path
  • Chamblee Rail Trail
  • Hill Loop Trail
  • Nancy Creek Trail
  • Peachtree Creek Greenway (Under construction)
  • South Peachtree Creek Trail
  • Stone Mountain Trail (Under construction)

DeKalb County 9/11 Memorial

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.

Visitor attractions



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town


Major employers in DeKalb County include:

  • AT&T Mobility, headquartered in the Lenox Park neighborhood of Brookhaven
  • 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
  • DeKalb County School District, headquartered in Stone Mountain


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."

Private schools

Private schools in DeKalb County include:

  • Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School (former Yeshiva Atlanta) in Doraville
  • 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 (Chamblee)
  • Friends School of Atlanta (Decatur)
  • Waldorf School of Atlanta (Decatur)
  • Academe of the Oaks (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.

Higher education

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

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 in Brookhaven 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 Military College (GMC) has a satellite campus in Stone Mountain Village.

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) in Decatur. 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.

Public libraries

The DeKalb County Public Library has 22 branches throughout the county.

See also

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