BRACK: Peachtree Corners cracks list of top 20 cities in Georgia

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher |  For the first time, one Gwinnett County city is among the 20 largest cities in Georgia.

That would be Peachtree Corners, with 42,773 residents, ranking it No. 20 among the Top 20 cities in Georgia. (All figures being used are 2015 population estimated from Amy Henderson at the Georgia Municipal Association.)

The line-up of Georgia’s biggest cities has changed somewhat in the last few years, because of the creation of several new Georgia cities in the Atlanta area, knocking off the Top 20 list several cities in North Georgia.

Atlanta remains the largest city in the state, with 462,970 residents. But there’s been a change in the second largest city, with Columbus (199,561) replacing Augusta (now 197,182) as the second largest.

Macon, since its consolidation with Bibb County, is now fourth largest (153,721), jumping from seventh largest. Savannah now is fifth largest (146,091).

Click to enlarge chart.

The creation of new cities in the Metro Atlanta started in 2005, when Sandy Springs came into being,  propelling it quite high on the list. It is now the seventh largest city in Georgia, with 105,703 residents.

And then recently a new City of South Fulton was approved, with 100,000 (estimated) population.  Meanwhile, Johns Creek, formed in 2006, is now ninth largest, with 83,107 people.

The replacement of smaller Top 20 is dramatic toward the end of the list. Brookhaven (formed in 2012) is now the 15th largest city in Georgia, with 57,444 citizens.

New in the list is Stonecrest in Southeast DeKalb County to the Rockdale County line, estimated to have 50,000 residents. Then comes Dunwoody, formed in 2008, with 48,884 residents, No. 19 on the list.

And finally comes Peachtree Corners, No. 20.

Gone from the list are Gainesville, now with 38,712 residents; Rome, 36,303; East Point, 35,382; and Peachtree City, 35,187.

Two other recently formed cities are Milton (formed in 2005), now No. 22 with 38,411, and Tucker, just formed in 2015, with 27,581 people.

Note that all these new cities were formed in and around Atlanta, where the major growth has been primarily since 1950. There have been no new cities formed in South Georgia, and there has been little population growth in South Georgia.

However, there has been consolidation of the city and county governments in three areas.  Columbus-Muscogee County led the way, coming together in 1971. Augusta-Richmond County merged in 1996, while Macon and Bibb County formed one government in 2014. The larger size of the combined population within these consolidated cities pushed their population size higher, of course.

While there has been talk of merging other city-county governments, no others come to mind. One city-county put the question on the ballot. Consolidation was on the ballot in Valdosta and Lowndes County in 2011, and as the Valdosta Times put it, “The people spoke and they yelled NO!”

Another nearby city, Jacksonville, Fla., and Duval County, Fla. led the way in mergers, bringing the two governments together in 1968.

One reason that there have been no Gwinnett cities in Georgia’s Top 20 list before is that most of the residents, about 75 percent, of Gwinnettians live in unincorporated areas of the county. Even though Gwinnett has 16 cities, there are no big cities in the county.  Only Peachtree Corners represents Gwinnett in the Top 20 list.