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Valdosta, Georgia
Valdosta City Hall
Valdosta City Hall
Official seal of Valdosta, Georgia
Azalea City, Sportstown, Titletown USA, Winnersville
"A City Without Limits" (2002–present)
Location in Lowndes County and the state of Georgia
Location in Lowndes County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
County Lowndes
Incorporated December 7, 1860
 • City 36.43 sq mi (94.35 km2)
 • Land 35.99 sq mi (93.20 km2)
 • Water 0.44 sq mi (1.15 km2)
220 ft (67 m)
 • City 55,378
 • Density 1,538.88/sq mi (594.16/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC−05:00 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
31601-31606, 31698
Area code(s) 229
FIPS code 13-78800
GNIS feature ID 0324649

Valdosta is a city in and the county seat of Lowndes County, Georgia, United States. As of 2019, Valdosta had an estimated population of 56,457.

Valdosta is the principal city of the Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2010 had a population of 139,588. It includes Brooks County to the west.

Valdosta is the home of Valdosta State University, a regional university in the University System of Georgia with over 10,900 students. The football team at Valdosta High School has more wins than any other American high school.

Valdosta is called the Azalea City, as the plant grows in profusion there. The city hosts an annual Azalea Festival in March.



Valdosta was incorporated on December 7, 1860, when it was designated by the state legislature as the new county seat, formerly at nearby Troupville. The railroad was built to Valdosta that year, rather than Troupville, stimulating development in the new county seat. Many citizens of Troupville had already relocated to Valdosta when the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad was built four miles (about 6 km) away. On July 4, 1860, the engine known as Satilla No. 3 pulled the first train into Valdosta on the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

Valdosta is located in the coastal plain of Georgia and has a virtually flat landscape. It was once the center of long-staple cotton growing in the United States, a lucrative crop both before and after the Civil War. The county had a majority-white population well before the war with a substantial black population, as the cotton plantations were dependent on masses of enslaved field laborers.

The sixty miles (97 km) of railway between Valdosta and Waycross were once the longest straight stretch of railroad in the world. Today highways stretch through the county for miles with hardly a curve, rise, or fall.

After being bypassed by the railroad and losing the county seat, Troupville was virtually abandoned. It had been named after Governor George Troup, for whom Troup County, Georgia, was also named. Valdosta was named after Troup's plantation, Valdosta (occasionally the Val d'Osta spelling was used for the plantation). Troup had named it after the Valle d'Aosta in Italy. The name Aosta (Latin: Augusta), refers to Emperor Augustus. A long-standing rumor held that the city's name meant "vale of beauty."

The American Civil War erupted just months after the establishment of Valdosta. During the war, Valdosta was far away from battles and became a refuge for those fleeing areas of Georgia where the war was being activelly fought.


After the American Civil War, during the Reconstruction era more than 100 freedmen, families of farmers, craftsmen, and laborers, emigrated from Lowndes County to Arithington, Liberia, in 1871 and 1872, looking for a better life. Since before the war, the American Colonization Society had supported the relocation of free blacks to Liberia, an American colony in West Africa established for this purpose. The first group from Lowndes County left in 1871, and were led by Jefferson Bracewell; the second group was led in 1872 by Aaron Miller.

Many freedmen ended up working as sharecroppers and tenant farmers on area plantations in Lowndes County, as cotton agriculture continued well into the 20th century. As mechanization was introduced, the number of agricultural jobs decreased.

Changing economy

The world's second Coca-Cola bottling plant reportedly began bottling Coca-Cola in Valdosta in 1897.

In 1899, the cotton mill town of Remerton was established. When it was established, Remerton was 2 miles (3.2 km) from the town of Valdosta. It has since become an enclave of Valdosta due to the growth of Valdosta.

In 1910, cotton was still important to the economy and Fortune magazine ranked Valdosta as the richest city in America by per capita income. Soon after that, the boll weevil invaded the South, moving east through the states and killing much of the cotton crop in this area in 1917. Agriculture in this area turned to tobacco and pine timber.

In January 1913, the South Georgia State Normal College opened in Valdosta on the edge of town. Over the course of the following century, it evolved into Valdosta State University. The school gradually became a regional center of higher education that has drawn many to the city.

On June 26, 1941 Moody Army Airfield opened 10 miles (16 km) to north-east of the town as part of the United States' preparation for the country's potential involvement in World War II. Moody Air Force Base's role in World War II and the postwar era has influenced the growth of Valdosta.

Post-World War II

The local economy received an important boost in the mid-20th century when Interstate 75 was routed and built through the area. Many vacationers on their way to Florida found Valdosta a convenient "last stop" on their way to Walt Disney World and the Orlando area. The Interstate's route to the west of the city has contributed to city's commercial district shifting from the historic downtown area to near the Interstate.

A high school oratory contest held in Valdosta in the mid-1950s is notable for its second-place winner, Martin Luther King Jr.. He later became a renowned minister and national civil rights leader.

Valdosta State College was integrated in September 1963. In 1969, Valdosta High School (the formerly all-white school) and Pinevale High School (the formerly all-black school) were merged into one system. Integration had begun at Valdosta High School about 1966.

During the Vietnam War, George W. Bush (a future president) entered the National Guard, receiving flight training at Valdosta's Moody Air Force Base in November 1968.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Monthly Labor Review, the first automated teller machine (ATM) was installed at a C&S Bank in Valdosta in 1971. That ATM was preceded by one installed in Rockville Centre, New York in 1969.

Valdosta was named as one of 2003's "Top 100 U.S. Small Towns" by Site Selection magazine. In 2010 Valdosta was named one of the "Best Small Places For Business And Careers" by Forbes.


Valdosta is located at 30°50′48″N 83°16′59″W / 30.84667°N 83.28306°W / 30.84667; -83.28306 (30.846661, -83.283101).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.3 square miles (78 km2), of which 29.9 square miles (77 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) is water, for a total area of 1.09% water.

Valdosta is about 230 miles (370 km) south of Atlanta. It is almost the same distance north of Orlando, Florida. It is 138 miles east of Dothan, Alabama and 137 miles west of Hinesville. Valdosta is approximately fifteen miles north of the state's border with Florida.


Valdosta has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with mild, dry/wet winters and hot, humid summers. Temperatures frequently go over 90 °F or 32.2 °C, but in extreme heatwaves, temperatures occasionally go over 100 °F or 37.8 °C. Snowfall is rare but not unknown. Snow has not been sighted in Valdosta since February 2010, with the last significant snowfall being 1989. However, light frosts regularly occur between December and February. Valdosta can experience Indian summers in the winter, where temperatures can get quite warm. Very rarely do winter lows go below 25 °F or −3.9 °C.

Climate data for Valdosta, Georgia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 87
Average high °F (°C) 61
Daily mean °F (°C) 52
Average low °F (°C) 42
Record low °F (°C) 3
Precipitation inches (mm) 5.79
Snowfall inches (cm) 0
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9 8 8 7 8 10 13 12 9 5 7 8 104
Source #1: The Weather Channel
Source #2: Weatherbase



According to the Bureau of Census, the Valdosta, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had an estimated population of 135,804 and ranked #281 in the U.S. in 2009. (The MSA consists of Lowndes, Brooks, Lanier and Echols counties.)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 166
1870 1,199 622.3%
1880 1,515 26.4%
1890 2,854 88.4%
1900 5,613 96.7%
1910 7,656 36.4%
1920 10,783 40.8%
1930 13,482 25.0%
1940 15,595 15.7%
1950 20,046 28.5%
1960 30,652 52.9%
1970 32,303 5.4%
1980 37,596 16.4%
1990 39,806 5.9%
2000 43,724 9.8%
2010 54,518 24.7%
2020 55,378 1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010 and estimates from 2005 to 2009, there were 54,518 people, 20,280 households, and 11,876 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,521.7 people per square mile (563.9/km2). There were 22,709 housing units available in Valdosta. The racial makeup of the city was 51.2% African American, 41.5% White, 0.3% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.2% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.0% of the population.

According to the census of 2000 the largest self-reported ancestry groups in Valdosta were: · Black or African American - 51% · English - 9% · Irish - 7% · German - 6% · Scotch-Irish - 2% · Italian - 2%

There were 20,280 households, out of which 27.4% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 35.5% were married couples living together, 19.3% had a female householder with no spouse present, and 41.4% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.93. In the city, the population was spread out, with 30% 19 years of age and younger, 19.3% from 20 to 24, 23.2% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25.5 years. 53.1% of the population of Valdosta was female and 46.9% was male. Females 18 and over made up 54.4% of the population compared to 45.6% male.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,940, and the median income for a family was $39,295. Males had a median income of $33,230 versus $25,689 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,003. About 20.3% of families and 28.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.3% of those under age 18 and 13.1% of those age 65 or over.

2020 census

Valdosta Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 18,863 34.06%
Black or African American 30,060 54.28%
Native American 109 0.2%
Asian 865 1.56%
Pacific Islander 34 0.06%
Other/Mixed 2,092 3.78%
Hispanic or Latino 3,355 6.06%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 55,378 people, 21,153 households, and 11,224 families residing in the city.


Valdosta GA Carnegie Library01
Lowndes County Historical Society & Museum in the former Carnegie Library

The Lowndes County Historical Society & Museum is located at the Carnegie Library of Valdosta, a National Register of Historic Places listed building and Carnegie library, one of 24 Carnegie Libraries in Georgia.

Valdosta in fiction

  • Parts of Fannie Flagg's novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and the 1991 film based upon the novel are set in Valdosta.
  • In Allen Steele's science fiction novel Coyote Frontier, Valdosta in the year 2070 is the site of Camp Buchanan, an internment camp for dissident liberal intellectuals.
  • Scenes from Ernest in the Army take place in Valdosta, even though the entire film was shot in South Africa.
  • Scenes from the film Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson, were shot on Valdosta streets and at nearby Wild Adventures theme park.
  • In Cotton Patch Gospel, Joe moves Jesus and the rest of the family to Valdosta when Herod dies.
  • The Lady Chablis performed in Valdosta in the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.
  • The 1986 movie As Summers Die starring Bette Davis and Jamie Lee Curtis was filmed in Valdosta.
  • In John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden, Adam Trask stops in Valdosta to steal supplies and request money from his brother Charles after escaping from a Florida chain gang on his way back to Connecticut.


Valdosta GA from airplane
Aerial view of Valdosta

Located in the far southern portion of the state, near the Florida line along the Interstate 75 corridor, it is a commercial center of South Georgia with numerous manufacturing plants. The surrounding area produces tobacco, naval stores, particularly turpentine, as well as pine lumber and pulpwood. According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Valdosta is called the "Naval Stores Capital of the World" because it supplies 80% of the world demand for naval stores.

In the retailing field, Valdosta has one major regional mall, Valdosta Mall, which features national chain anchor stores like JCPenney, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Buckle, PetSmart, Belk, Old Navy, and Ross Stores. Several large stores surround the mall or are near the mall, including Best Buy, Home Depot, Kohl's, Lowe's, Office Max, Target, and Publix. Valdosta has other notable shopping areas such as the Historic Downtown area with many local businesses, and the Five Points area which has a Big Lots, Winn-Dixie, and numerous national franchise and local restaurants.

Moody Air Force Base is located about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Valdosta in northern Lowndes County.

Wild Adventures, a 166-acre (67 ha) theme and water park, is located 10 miles (16 km) south of the center of Valdosta in rural Lowndes County. Wild Adventures is owned by Herschend Family Entertainment.


Minor league baseball

Valdosta hosted several different minor league baseball teams during the twentieth century, and was one of six cities in the Georgia State League which began play in 1906, with the team known as the Valdosta Stars. From 1946 to 1958, the Valdosta Tigers were a "Class-D" minor league team. Valdosta was also home to the Valdosta Trojans which was a "farm" team for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

ESPN's Titletown, USA

TitleTown USA was a month-long segment on ESPN that started in the spring of 2008 and continued through July. Fans nominated towns and cities across the country based on their championship pedigree. A panel reviewed the nominees, and fan voting in May determined the 20th finalist. SportsCenter visited each city in July, and fan voting July 23–27 determined the winner.

Due to the Valdosta High School football team's record as well as multiple championships in many sports by Valdosta State University, Lowndes High School, Valwood School, Georgia Christian School, and other academic institutions in the town, Valdosta was nominated as a finalist in 2008 for ESPN's "Titletown USA" contest. On July 28, 2008, with 29.2% of fan votes on ESPN's website poll, Valdosta was named TitleTown USA.


Valdosta State University
Wiregrass Tech, Flagpoles
Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
Georgia Military College (SE Corner)
Georgia Military College Valdosta Campus

Public schools

The Valdosta City School District holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, consisting of five elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. The school district serves the city of Valdosta and the surrounding communities of Lowndes County. As of 2010 the district has 447 full-time teachers and over 7,178 students.

The Lowndes County School District serves communities of Lowndes County outside of the Valdosta city limits.

Scintilla Charter Academy is a free public school of choice open to any student who resides in Lowndes county or the city of Valdosta. SCA holds grades kindergarten to grade Seven.

Private schools

Valwood School is an independent college preparatory school north of Valdosta enrolling students in Pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Several Christian schools offering grades K-12 also operate in and near Valdosta, including Crossroads Baptist School, Georgia Christian School, Lighthouse Christian School, Open Bible Christian School, Highland Christian Academy, St. John Catholic School, and Victory Christian School.

Higher education

Valdosta is the home of Valdosta State University (VSU), founded in 1906 as South Georgia State Normal College for Women. It became part of the University System of Georgia in 1950 as Valdosta State College. It achieved university status and became VSU in 1993 and is one of two regional universities in Georgia.

An extension of Georgia Military College is in the city limits, and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is located a mile outside of the city limits off Interstate 75.

Also located in Valdosta is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide: Moody Campus.



Major highways

  • I-75.svg Interstate 75 (State Route 401) runs north to south through a western section of Valdosta, with access from Exits 11 through 22. I-75 leads north 46 miles (74 km) to Tifton and southeast 62 miles (100 km) to Lake City, Florida.
  • US 41.svg U.S. Highway 41 (State Route 7) runs north to south entering the city at the Withlacoochee River being known as North Valdosta Road, and continuing south on North Ashley Street. It branches into two sections at Five Points, US 41 Business / SR 7 Business traveling south down North Ashley Street, US 41 Alternate / SR 7 Alternate traveling south down Patterson Street. At the overpass over the CSX railroad, they join to become US 41 Business / SR 7 Business following South Patterson Street.
  • US 84.svg U.S. Highway 84 (Wiregrass Georgia Parkway) is colocated with State Route 38 and runs west to east bisecting the city and is known as Hill Avenue through the city limits. US 84 leads northeast 62 miles (100 km) to Waycross and west 43 miles (69 km) to Thomasville.
  • US 221.svg U.S. Highway 221 follows US 84 and SR 38 west of Valdosta and State Route 31 northeast of Valdosta. US 221 leads west with US 84 17 miles (27 km) to Quitman and northeast 21 miles (34 km) to Lakeland.

Other transportation

Pedestrians and cycling

  • Azalea City Trail
  • VSU Walking Trail System


  • In 1898, the Valdosta Street Railway Company secured the right to operate streetcars on Patterson, Ashley, Toombs, Lee, Hill, Central, Crane and Gordon streets. Valdosta was one of the smallest cities in America to have a street railway system. The streetcar operated in the downtown area between 1899 and 1924. The abandoned tracks were removed in the 1940s to be used as scrap metal for the war effort.

Intercity rail

For several decades the Atlantic Coast Line and the Southern Railway ran regular passenger trains on a Chicago to Florida circuit, making stops in Valdosta, albeit at different stations. The Atlantic Coast Line ran the South Wind through Valdosta, and the Southern operated the Ponce de Leon and the Royal Palm through the town.

After Amtrak assumed passenger rail operations in the United States in 1971 it operated the Floridian from Chicago to St. Petersburg and Miami. In a group of several train disestablishments in 1979, Amtrak discontinued the Floridian, thus marking the last time that passenger trains served south Georgia (excepting the New York-Florida service in eastern Georgia).

Notable people

  • Alex W. Bealer, Atlanta blacksmith and author; born in Valdosta in 1921
  • Alfred Corn, poet and essayist; raised in Valdosta
  • Doc Holliday, Western dentist, gunfighter and gambler; spent his youth in Valdosta
  • Louis Lomax, African-American journalist and the son of a leading local educator
  • James Lord Pierpont, composer of "Jingle Bells"; lived many years in Valdosta, where he taught music
  • Elsie Quarterman, plant biologist and professor of biology at Vanderbilt University; born in Valdosta in 1910


  • Rhett Akins, country artist, two-time Songwriter of the Year, member of the Peach Pickers writing trio and his son, Thomas Rhett, country music artist
  • Don Fleming, indie rock musician and producer
  • From First to Last (Matt Good, Derek Bloom and Travis Richer), post-hardcore band
  • Ben Hayslip, two-time Country Music Songwriter of the Year. Member of The Peach Pickers along with Valdosta native Rhett Akins
  • Bill Hicks, comedian; born in Valdosta
  • NewSong, Christian band
  • Margaret Pardee, violinist and violin teacher
  • Pauley Perrette, actress best known for NCIS; attended Valdosta State University
  • Billy Joe Royal, country music and pop artist; born in Valdosta
  • Sonny Shroyer, actor best known for role as Enos Strate on The Dukes of Hazzard; born in Valdosta
  • Demond Wilson, minister and TV actor best known for playing Lamont on Sanford and Son
  • William Workman, opera singer


Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Valdosta para niños

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