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Carrollton, Georgia is a city in the north west region of Georgia, about 45 miles west of Atlanta near the Alabama state line. It is the county seat of Carroll County which is included in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. Historically, Carrollton has been a commercial center for several mostly rural counties in both Georgia and Alabama. It is the home of the University of West Georgia and West Georgia Technical College. The 2016 United States Census estimates placed the city's population at 26,562.
Carrollton is located near the center of Carroll County at 33°34′51″N 85°4′36″W (33.580912, -85.076704). The Little Tallapoosa River flows through the northwestern part of the city. U.S. Route 27 passes through the city center, leading north 9 miles (14 km) to Interstate 20 in Bremen and south 42 miles (68 km) to LaGrange.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Carrollton has a total area of 22.8 square miles (59.1 km2), of which 22.3 square miles (57.7 km2) is land and 0.54 square miles (1.4 km2), or 2.37%, is water.
Carroll County, of which Carrollton is the county seat, was chartered in 1826, and was governed at the time by the Carroll Inferior Court, which consisted of five elected justices. In 1829, the justices voted to move the county seat from the site it occupied near the present community of Sandhill, to a new site about 8 miles (13 km) to the southwest.
The original intention was to call the new county seat "Troupville", in honor of former governor George Troup, but Troup was not popular with the state government of the time, so the Georgia General Assembly incorporated the town as Carrollton, in December 1829. The name was in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence.
In 1830, the town was surveyed and lots were laid out, with the central feature being the town square, which was later named Adamson Square, for local judge and congressman William C. Adamson.
Although it was the county seat and the main market town for most of Carroll County, transportation of both goods and passengers was difficult until the coming of the railroad in 1874, so Carrollton remained largely a frontier town until well after the Civil War.
The coming of the railroad brought new prosperity to Carrollton. Farmers were able to bring their crops, mostly cotton, to town for shipment to distant markets, and obtain the fertilizers and agricultural supplies they needed. At the same time, consumer goods were more readily available than ever before.
The railroad also encouraged the growth of the fledgling industrial ventures, especially in the textile industry, in and around Carrollton. These early textile mills, mostly water powered, served as the basis for a textile industry that helped ensure the town's prosperity well into the 20th century.
At the start of the 20th century, Carrollton boasted running water and had electric lighting and telephone service. The town began paving its streets in 1918.
In 1906, Carrollton was chosen as the site of the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School, which became West Georgia College in 1934, and is now a 12,834-student university, the University of West Georgia. In May 1964 Robert F. Kennedy visited Carrollton for the dedication of Kennedy Chapel on the university campus.
Carrollton remained an agricultural and textile manufacturing center throughout the first half of the 20th century, but as the local production of cotton declined and the population became more urban, other industries began to take on a greater prominence. Most notable is the Southwire Company. Founded in Carrollton in 1950, Southwire is now one of the world's largest manufacturers of wire and cable and is the largest privately owned wire manufacturer, with more than 1,500 local employees and 5,000 employees worldwide.
This diversification of industry has continued into the 21st century, aided in part by Carrollton's ready access to Interstate 20 and the Norfolk Southern Railway. The city's major employers presently include companies in the airline, construction, power distribution, poultry, software, home entertainment, and health care industries, among others.
Carrollton also remains an important market town, with a wide variety of national retail chains and restaurants, serving Carroll County and the surrounding region.
Carrollton was mentioned in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the 1939 movie of the same name. Carrollton featured in the 1983 TV movie Murder in Coweta County, although the Carrollton scenes were not actually filmed there. Other films shot in the Carrollton area include Conjurer with John Schneider, The Way Home with Dean Cain, and Between Love and a Hard Place with Bern Nadette Stanis. Carrollton was the home of actress Susan Hayward.
On August 21, 1995, Atlantic Southeast Airlines Flight 529 crashed near Carrollton. Nine of the 29 passengers and crew on board were killed as a result of the accident.
The city attracted news media attention amidst allegations of censorship in September 2011 when the mayor overruled the board of the city-owned Carrollton Cultural Arts Center in order to ban as "very offensive" the live stage musical The Rocky Horror Show that had been scheduled for a run just before Halloween. The theater board had authorized use of the venue and appropriated $2,500 for the show, which was already in rehearsal. News reports attributed the mayor's decision to his being shown by the city manager a video of the rehearsal posted by a cast member to a personal Facebook page. In February 2012, three months later than originally planned, the show was produced and privately funded without city money at the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts at the University of West Georgia, also in Carrollton. The Virginia-based anti-censorship Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gave one of its national 2012 "Muzzle" awards to the mayor "for appointing himself the arbiter of cultural taste for an entire town, and canceling a pre-approved production of The Rocky Horror Show at a city-owned theater."
Severe winter conditions are infrequent. The record for snowfall is 10-11", which fell on December 8 and 9, 2017. The previous record for biggest snow was in March 1993 during the Blizzard of 1993 with 4 to 6 inches (100 to 150 mm) of snow. During the storm thundersnow was reported. On Christmas Day 2010 Carrollton had its first white Christmas in 17 years.
Thunderstorms, a few of them severe, can occur during the spring and summer months. The main risk from these storms comes from lightning strikes. Any tornadoes produced by these storms tend to be small and highly localized. An EF3 tornado hit an area about 10 miles (16 km) west of Carrollton on February 26, 2008. Some of the same areas hit by the February 2008 tornadoes were also hit by the Mother's Day tornadoes on May 11, 2008. The Mother's Day Tornadoes did extensive damage to many homes and businesses. In April 2017, a tornado hit Carrollton, destroying a fire station and damaging numerous homes and vehicles. The tornado also hit on the campus of the University of West Georgia.
Possibly the most significant severe weather risk comes from hurricanes that strike the Florida Panhandle. These storms track northward through Alabama as tropical storms, and some have brought high winds, heavy rainfall, and the occasional tornado to the Carrollton area, resulting in significant property damage. In October 1995 Hurricane Opal slammed the Florida panhandle then moved north into Alabama and then east into Georgia. The Carrollton area was hit with tropical storm force winds killing one person when a tree came down into a mobile home. Some area residents were without electricity for almost two weeks. In 2005 a feeder band from Hurricane Katrina produced a tornado that killed one person just south of Carrollton. Flooding is also a concern for the area. In September 2009, up to a foot of rain fell in some areas, flooding many homes, washing away roads and bridges, and claiming the lives of ten people in Georgia.
As of the 2000 census, there were 19,843 people, 7,121 households, and 3,966 families residing in the city. The population density was 379.8/km² (983.7/mi²). There were 7,577 housing units at an average density of 145.0/km² (375.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 62.49% White, 31.16% Black, 0.22% Native American, 1.26% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 2.88% from other races, and 1.98% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.64% of the population.
There were 7,121 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.0% were married couples living together, 16.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.6% under the age of 18, 27.0% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 15.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 87.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,559, and the median income for a family was $39,143. Males had a median income of $30,600 versus $23,224 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,803. About 15.5% of families and 23.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.7% of those under age 18 and 17.0% of those age 65 or over.
Several parks are located in Carrollton such as Longview Park, Knox Park and Castle Playground. John Tanner State Park, which is 6 miles (10 km) west of the city, has a lake with a beach and swimming area, walking or running track, and camp grounds.
The Carrollton Greenbelt is the largest paved loop in the state of Georgia. It is 18 miles long and is used for walking and bicycling. The trail goes all around Carrollton and has "trailheads" at Laura's Park at Hays Mill, Old-Newnan Road, Lakeshore Park, and more.
East Carrollton Park is located near Lake Carroll.
Carrollton's downtown area is named Adamson Square after Congressman William Charles Adamson. Local restaurants include the Corner Cafe, The Alley Cat, Plates on the Square (the upstairs bar is known as Uncorked at Plates), Max & Henry's and Gallery Row Coffee Shop; all are within walking distance of one another. The Alley Cat and Uncorked at Plates frequently schedule bands and other events. Adamson Square is the host to many of Carrollton's events, such as the annual Mayfest which takes place in the first week of May. Another shop located on Adamson Square is Horton's Books & Gifts, certified as the oldest bookstore in Georgia by the American Booksellers Association. Founded in 1892, it is Carrollton and Carroll County's oldest business and is still in its original location. Right off the Square is the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center, the site of Carrollton Festival of the Arts, an arts and crafts festival held in October. Downtown on Adamson Square is the Irish Bred Pub, which first opened its doors in May 2006.
In 2012 The AMP at Adamson Square debuted; this outdoor covered amphitheater can seat 800-1,000 people and shows a variety of free music and movie performances.
One block south of the Square is the Southeastern Quilt & Textile Museum, which opened in September 2012. Exhibits have featured traditional and contemporary quilts by both solo artists and various regional guilds, and a partnership with the Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia has enabled the museum to exhibit highlights of the history of the local textile industry.
Carrollton has about 100 places of worship. The Sacred Harp Publishing Company, a non-profit organization supporting Sacred Harp singing, publishes the most widely used edition of the Sacred Harp songbook. Carrollton is the birthplace of Baptist pastor Jerry Vines. It is also the home of a small denomination: the National Association of Wesleyan Evangelicals.
The Carroll County School District provides education to pre-school through grade twelve and consists of eleven elementary schools, six middle schools, and seven high schools. The district has 805 full-time teachers and over 13,403 students.
The Carrollton City School District serves grades pre-school through twelve and consists of one elementary school, two middle schools, a high school, and an alternative school. The district has 208 full-time teachers and over 3,682 students.
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