City of Smyrna
Smyrna is a city northwest of the neighborhoods of Atlanta. It is in the inner ring of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 51,271. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population in 2013 to be 53,438. It is included in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell MSA, which is included in the Atlanta—Athens-Clarke—Sandy Springs CSA. Smyrna grew by 28% between the years 2000 and 2012. It is historically one of the fastest growing cities in the State of Georgia, and one of the most densely populated cities in the metro area.
Pioneers began settling the area in 1832. By the late 1830s, a religious encampment called Smyrna Camp Ground had become a popular travel destination and was well known throughout Georgia. It was named by Greeks for the Biblical city of Smyrna, modern day Izmir in Turkey, the home of the famous Christian martyr Polycarp. After the completion of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1842 the area began to grow. It was known by several names until 1872 – Varner’s Station, Ruff’s Siding, Neal Dow and Ruff’s Station. The city was incorporated with the name Smyrna in 1872.
Two Civil War battles occurred in the area, the Battle of Smyrna Camp Ground and the Battle of Ruff’s Mill, both on July 4, 1864. The area’s businesses, homes and 1849 covered bridge (since rebuilt and still in use today) were burned by Sherman’s troops.
The city elected its first woman mayor, Lorena Pace Pruitt, in 1946.
The nearby Bell Bomber plant that produced B-29 bombers during World War II was reopened by Lockheed in 1951 and became a catalyst for growth. The city’s population grew during the next two decades, from 2,005 in 1950 to almost 20,000 by 1970.
The restaurant scene in the film Joyful Noise was shot at Howard’s Restaurant in Smyrna in 2011.
Smyrna was ranked #4 in a 2014 study of the Best Cities for Young Adults in Georgia.
Smyrna is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area, located about 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of the Atlanta city limits, and with Smyrna’s downtown about 10 miles (16 km) from downtown Atlanta. Smyrna is located just west of the northern intersection of I-285 and I-75, which is the site of Cumberland and the Cobb Galleria. Smyrna is also near Vinings, Marietta, Mableton, Sandy Springs and the Buckhead district of Atlanta..
The center of Smyrna is located at 33°52′19″N 84°31′06″W.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.4 square miles (39.9 km2), of which 15.4 square miles (39.8 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.23%, is water. The general terrain of the area is characteristic of the Piedmont region of Georgia, characterized by hills with broad ridges, sloping uplands, and relatively narrow valleys. The center of Smyrna is about 1,060 feet (320 m) above sea level.
The city’s official symbol is the jonquil (a flower). Known as the “Jonquil City”, it derives this name from the thousands of jonquils that flourish in gardens and along the streets in early spring.
As of the 2014 census, there were 51,271 people, with 25% growth since 2000. There were 23,002 households. The population density was 3,300 people per square mile (1,300/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 46.63% African American, 31.6% White, 0.4% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, and 3.1% from two or more races. 14.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The population was distributed by age as follows: 22.6% under the age of 18, 18.8% from 18 to 29, 20% from 30 to 39, 14.9% from 40 to 49, 14.2% from 50-64, and 9.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.2 males.
As of 2011, 52.6% of Smyrna residents live in families with an average of 2.2 people per household.
As of 2012, 52.2% of Smyrna residents have a college degree and 91.3% of residents have a high school diploma. This is one of the highest rates in the state of Georgia.
The city is governed by a seven-member council, elected by wards, and a mayor elected at-large. As of January 2016, Max Bacon is the mayor of Smyrna, a post he has held since 1985.
The city operates the Smyrna Public Library.
- H.H. Arrington 1933-1937
- John Corn 1939-1940
- P.M. Brinkley 1941
- John Tatum 1942
- C.M. Hamby 1943-1944
- J.Y. Wootten 1945
- Lorena Pruitt 1946-1948
- J.M. “Hoot” Gibson 1949-1952
- Guy Duncan 1953-1954
- James E. Quarles 1955-1957
- J.M. “Hoot” Gibson 1958-1959
- George Kreeger 1960-1961
- J.B. “Jake” Ables 1962-1963
- George Kreeger 1964-1969
- Harold Smith 1970-1971
- John Porterfield 1972-1975
- Arthur Bacon 1976-1977
- Frank Johnson 1978-1981
- Arthur Bacon 1982-1985
- Max Bacon 1985–Present
As in most Georgia cities, municipal elected officials are nonpartisan. State and federal representation is fairly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Community leaders and officeholders are traditionally conservative, but have in recent years become more socially moderate and interested in expanding public services.
Since the late 1990s-to-early 2000s, an influx of young professionals and families in the community have led to “new blood” seeking office in municipal elections. Additionally, there has been an increase of women and minorities seeking, and winning, public office via elections and appointments. Local elections have become more heavily contested as well; it has become more and more rare for an officeseeker to run unopposed.
An interesting phenomenon beginning in the early 2000s concerns Smyrna’s public school community. This association of individuals, families, PTA chapters, booster clubs, and foundations, particularly those supporting Campbell High School and its feeder schools, is very active and has a remarkable amount of political clout in the community. One manifestation of this experience is a social media-based group called Wave of Excellence. Although primarily focused on the growth and quality of public education in Smyrna, this community also occasionally lends its influence to other political matters such as economic development and local elections.
The median income for a household in the city for 2011 was $49,556, a 4% increase from 2000 and $3,549 over the Georgia average. The per capita income for the city was $34,439, a 24.7% increase from 2000. About 6.7% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line.
The Atlanta Bread Company has its headquarters in Smyrna.
Companies with an office include Eaton Corporation and IBM. Smyrna was the site of the corporate offices of the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.
Smyrna also has multiple private schools including Covenant Christian School, Whitefield Academy, and a satellite campus of Buckhead Preparatory Academy. The Lovett School is also nearby.
Some extensions of the Silver Comet Trail have been built further into Smyrna to expand access to the trail.
“Market Village” in the city center often has open-air concerts and festivals. There are also various small parks such as Cobb Park, public pools such as Aline Wolfe Center for the elderly and Tolleson park pool for the all ages, tennis courts and playgrounds and a linear park with walking trail along Spring Road.
Several major roadways, such as I-285, Cobb Parkway (U.S. Route 41), Atlanta Road (Old State Route 3), and South Cobb Drive (State Route 280), pass through the municipality.
Smyrna is served by Cobb Community Transit and Marta public buses.
Notables from the area include U.S. Representative Bob Barr, actress Julia Roberts, baseball star Ron Gant, pastor Louie Giglio and football player Tay Glover-Wright. Voice over actor and animator C. Martin Croker was born in Smyrna. Croker is best known for his work on the cult classic show Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
Recording artist and composer Benn Jordan currently owns a home and recording studio located in Smyrna.Recording artist and composer Pat Terry is a life long resident of Smyrna.