The United States Census Bureau has added Locust Grove to cities that comprise metropolitan Atlanta. It used to be known as part of the semi-rural portion of Henry County.
Locust Grove’s boundaries now stretch across Henry County, south to north, from DeKalb County to Butts County, primarily along the Interstate 75 corridor.
Overall, Atlanta leads the nation in absolute growth in land area. Now second in country behind New York City, according to Locust Grove City Manager, Tim Young.
Henry County, which registered solid growth over the past decade, witnessed rapid urbanization that began during the 1990s. Henry County is now nearly 50 percent urban, Young said, according to the census bureau.
"What had been the separate Atlanta urbanized area, and Locust Grove urban cluster in 2000 grew in all directions over the following decade,” said Tim Sickley, a Census Bureau geographer. “By 2010, they had become close enough to connect as one urban area under our criteria. Similar connections were made between Atlanta and the 2000 urban clusters of Walnut Grove, Newnan, Palmetto, and Villa Rica, all of which became part of Atlanta in 2010."
The City of Locust Grove, the only city not within the Atlanta urbanized area after the 2000 Census, is now absorbed into Atlanta and is no longer an “urban cluster” surrounded by a rural area.
“The growth in the urbanized area as a whole is a reflection of the tremendous growth throughout the region, and in Henry County over the past decade,” said Young. “The increase in population will help in the overall formula for federal funding to the metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) such as ARC. Locust Grove now part of the urbanized region will aid us in being eligible for more MPO-related funding.”
The U.S. Census Bureau released the data on March 26, listing the nation’s urban areas, urban clusters, and changes since the last decennial census.
Atlanta continues to be one of the largest urbanized areas in the country, passing such cities as Detroit and Boston in becoming the 10th largest in overall population at 4,515,419. The increase of 1,015,579 persons in the past decade ranked second behind Houston, which had just over a 1.1 million-person increase.
“The reason for the tying in of Locust Grove to the overall Atlanta Region was twofold,” said Young. “First was the growth along the Highway 42 Corridor between McDonough and Locust Grove, namely the Williamsburg Plantation development begun in early 2000s and in the area along Old Jackson Road and [Georgia] Highway 81 East that enabled the city to connect physically to the region.
“Second was the inclusion of developed areas that were not necessarily populated with people as part of the revised definition that enabled the large warehousing district south of McDonough to be included,” Young continued. “The use of developed industrial and retail districts where residential population was low was key in many urban regions where ‘islands’ that were in fact developed, were considered ‘rural’ by the previous 2000 definition, which relied purely on population density.”
There was an increase in urbanized land, with Atlanta leading the nation, having over 682 square miles added to its former 2000 urban area. Atlanta surpassed Chicago, Ill., to become the nation’s second largest urbanized area in terms of land area at over 2,645 square miles.
For maps and data compiled from the Census data release, see the Community Development page of the City of Locust Grove website at www.locustgrove-ga.gov.