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Smyrna is a city in Cobb County, Georgia, United States. It is located northwest of Atlanta, and 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.
As in most Georgia cities, Smyrna's municipal elections are nonpartisan. State and federal representation in the area include both Democrats and Republicans.
Smyrna politics is a vibrant environment, and local elected officials are relatively popular among their constituents. Elections tend to be competitive, drawing a diverse set of candidates. Important local issues include education, economic development, and management of growth that comes from being a central point in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Smyrna citizens strive to achieve a balance between embracing and adapting to healthy changes in the city, with preservation of historic elements in the community.
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.
According to the City's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
In 1991, the city began a community redevelopment project known as "Market Village," in order to create a well-defined downtown. Included were a community center and 28,000-square-foot (2,600 m2) public library. A mixed retail and residential district was modeled after an early 1900s city village, including a square with a fountain. This, and other expansions have revitalized the downtown area. Further redevelopment has occurred throughout the city—including thousands of new homes - mostly cluster homes, townhouse and condo communities replacing older neighborhoods. The population has risen as a result of redevelopment, a few annexations, and Smyrna's location as a residential suburb in the Northwest center of metro Atlanta.
There is additional mixed retail/residential/office redevelopments around the "Market Village". Ground was broken in Jonquil Village, a redevelopment of Jonquil Plaza at the corner of Spring and Atlanta Road across from "Market Village". However, this development stalled due to banks withdrawing funding during the nationwide real estate crash of 2007
Less than a .5 miles (0.80 km) down, the city intends to redevelop the Belmont Hills plaza, at the corner of Windy Hill and Atlanta Road in 2011. Both these villages, like "Market Village" in Smyrna, and "Market Square" in Vinings are designed to resemble a city village of yesteryear with fountains and antique street lamps. In 2011, Halpern Enterprises, the developer, sold some land to the city of Smyrna for an elementary school called the New Smyrna Elementary, which has completed construction. In 2012, Halpern rezoned the property but didn't change its intended use. It moved residential from a multi-story building in one section of the development to apartment residential by itself in a larger and previously empty section of the development (pod F) due to market constraints in the only slowly warming housing market, leaving the earlier section available for any use in the future.
A Kroger plaza (Known as "The Crossings") has been built at the corner of Concord Road and South Cobb Drive with some planned two-story outparcels. This is actually a re-development of an older blighted strip-mall. The Kroger located there is one of the largest in the country, at 93,000 square feet (8,600 m2).
Additional re-development is going on throughout the city, including the site at the corner of East-West Connector / Cumberland Parkway and South Cobb Drive. A shopping center with one of the first Sprouts Farmers Market organic grocery stores East of the Mississippi river is planned. Two outparcels have already been developed.
Some additional work is being done in Smyrna are streetscape beautification projects, including a linear park on Concord Road along with new signage, lights, and a median on Atlanta Road. Additional parkland projects are the 12-acre (4.9 ha) Taylor-Brawner Park, Riverview Road trail and Silver Comet Trail extensions in that area.
Smyrna is home to The Bright Side, Smyrna and Vinings' Community Newspaper. The Bright Side is dedicated to publishing positive events that occur in Cobb County.
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 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; Passion City Church Senior Pastor/Passion Conferences and sixstepsrecords founder 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.
Eschel Rhoodie, the South African Minister of Information from 1972 to 1977, resided in Smyrna after emigrating to the United States.
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