Canton is a city in and the county seat of Cherokee County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 22,958.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.3 square miles (36.9 km²). The city lies just north of Lebanon and south of Ball Ground.
Name and economic historyOnce famous for its "Canton Denim," known worldwide for the high-quality denim produced by Canton Cotton Mills which closed in 1979, Canton is now enjoying the greatest economic boom in its history. The City of Canton has a rich heritage. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the site where Canton would be founded lay in the heart of the Cherokee Nation.
During the first hundred years of Georgia's history, Northwest Georgia was generally considered "Indian Country," and was bypassed by settlers going West. Georgia had made a treaty with the Federal Government in 1802 to relinquish its Western Territory for the removal of all Indians within its boundaries, and, although other tribes had been removed, little was ever done about the Cherokees.
Since this was the heartland of the Cherokee Nation, the state and nation had avoided the handling of this delicate problem. Following the Georgia Gold Rush in 1829, settlers ignored the Indian problems and began to move into the area north of Carrollton and west of the Chattahoochee River-sixty-nine hundred miles-and named it Cherokee.
Many members of the Cherokee Nation moved west, but the majority stayed until removed by Federal Troops sent into the area during the summer of 1838. The remaining Cherokees were gathered and held in forts until the removal could be completed. Present-day Cherokee County had the largest and most southerly of these fort, Fort Buffington, which stood six miles (10 km) east of Canton. Today nothing stands to identify its timber structure, but the area is marked by a large piece of green Cherokee marble quarried near Holly Springs. By autumn of 1838, the federal troops had accomplished their mission and the Cherokees at Fort Buffington were marched off to join other groups on the infamous "Trail of Tears".
A permanent county seat and courthouse were chosen in 1833 and named Etowah. The name was changed to Cherokee Courthouse in 1833. In 1834 it was changed to Canton (pronounced cant'n), after the Chinese city of Guangzhou, which was then known in English as Canton (pronounced can tahn). The name was chosen because a group of citizens had dreams of making the Georgia town a center of the silk industry, which was concentrated in China at the time. Though Canton never became a significant silk center, it did become a successful manufacturing community.
Canton, which had a population of about 200, was burned between the dates of November 1–5, 1864 by the Union Army under the command of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman. Canton was destroyed by a foraging party of the Ohio 5th Cavalry under the command of Major Thomas T. Heath. At the time the Ohio 5th Cavalry was headquartered in Cartersville, Ga. The written order for destruction was given on October 30, 1864 by Brig. General John E. Smith. Union troops were ordered to burn the town because of Confederate guerrilla attacks coming from Canton and directed against the Western and Atlantic Railroad near the town of Cassville, Ga. The railroad was a vital supply line for the Union Army from the captured city of Chattanooga, Tn. to newly captured Atlanta, Ga. The Canton home of Governor Joseph E. Brown was specifically targeted for destruction. Cassville, Ga., the county seat of neighboring Bartow County was also completely destroyed for guerrilla attacks against the railroad by the same Union party on November 5, 1864 on their return to Cartersville from Canton. Cassville never rebuilt. However, Canton survived to prosper.
Over the years, Canton evolved from unsettled territory to a prosperous mill town known the world over for its "Canton Denim." The original county of 1831 now includes 24 counties, and Cherokee County remains one of Georgia's largest counties with an area of 429 square miles (1,110 km2). The City of Canton remains the county seat.
The poultry division of Central Soya Corporation located a plant to the region in the 1950s which is now Pilgrims Pride.
Historical information adapted from The Heritage of Cherokee County Georgia 1831–1998
City CouncilThe City of Canton is governed by a Mayor and six (6) Council Members, who are elected at large by city residents. The terms of office are for four (4) years.
For the election of Council Member, The City of Canton is divided into three (3) wards with two (2) Council Members serving from each ward.
Qualifications of Mayor and Council Members:
Must be 21 years of age Must be a registered City voter Shall be a resident of the ward they represent for six months prior to the election Shall be a resident of the City of Canton for one year prior to the election Shall continue to reside in the City of Canton during their term of office Whereas: All elected officials of the Mayor and Council are four (4) year term.
The Mayor and Council hold the monthly council meetings on the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. All meetings of the Mayor and Council are held in the Council Chambers of City Hall located at 151 Elizabeth Street.
At any meeting, the mayor or mayor pro tem and three (3) of the council members shall constitute a quorum to transact business. It shall take a majority vote of the council members present to pass any measure. The mayor shall vote on all measures only when there is a tie of the council members.
The mayor shall be the chief executive of the City of Canton; shall preside at meetings of the mayor and council; shall see that all laws, ordinances, rules and regulations are faithfully enforced; shall see that all officers and employees shall faithfully discharge their duties; shall sign with the clerk of council any deed, lease, conveyance and contract that may be authorized and directed by the Mayor and Council.
AdministrationThe Administration Department of the City of Canton consists of the Mayor, City Council, City Manager, City Clerk and Administrative Secretaries. The office is located at Canton City Hall at 151 Elizabeth Street in Canton.
The City Manager is the Administrative Executive of the City of Canton and is responsible for overseeing daily operations of all City departments. The City Manager is appointed by the Mayor and City Council, the governing authority of the city, and is responsible for keeping the Mayor and Council informed on all issues. He also advises the council on the financial condition and needs of the City.
The City Clerk serves as the Clerk of Council and is responsible for the minutes and records of all meetings. The City Clerk is responsible for serving as custodian of all legal documents for the City.
RenovationMany projects are underway in the city including new construction, renovation, and revitalization. Canton has received millions of dollars in grants for park and sidewalk improvements in the city. The city's public buses have established routes and carry thousands of passengers throughout the city from residential areas to downtown, shopping areas, the medical district, and job sites.
The Historic Canton Theatre on Main Street features plays and other special entertainment events throughout the year, injecting new life into the downtown business district. Streets in the downtown area were recently improved, by the removal of parking spaces, as part of the "Streetscapes" program, bringing brick pavers to sidewalks, lamp posts, lush landscaping and intersection upgrades.
In May 2004, the city held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Heritage Park. Heritage Park is the first phase of the Etowah River Greenway. Heritage Park consists of approximately 30 acres (120,000 m2) of passive use pedestrian and bike trails and a natural amphitheater. The city used to hold concerts and movies in Heritage Park throughout the summer free of charge to its residents.
The city, in partnership with the Metro Atlanta YMCA, constructed an $8 million community center on Waleska Street contiguous to Heritage Park. Now completed, the community center includes an indoor swimming pool, a gymnasium, wellness center, aerobics studio, childcare facilities and the Cherokee Sports Hall of Fame. Although voted in as a "free" community center, it was decided after completion that only members can use it for a fee.
Phase two of the Etowah River Greenway north of Heritage Park consists of active recreation fields for softball, baseball, tennis, and soccer. This phase involves approximately 60 acres (240,000 m2) of property.
In June 2004, the Bluffs Parkway opened off Riverstone Boulevard. This parkway, funded by an $8 million grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, bisects the Bluffs at Technology Park. The Park which is owned by Technology Park/Atlanta, Inc. will be home to 15,000 high-tech jobs when built out in 10 years. The Park includes a satellite campus of Chattahoochee Technical College which opened Fall of 2011 to train employees of the companies locating there.
The Hickory Log Creek dam project was approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The construction and ownership of the Hickory Log Creek Raw Water Reservoir will be shared by the Cobb County / Marietta Water Authority and the City of Canton on a 75% and 25% respective basis and should be completed by December 2007. This water source will provide 44 million US gallons (170,000 m3) of water per day and will be bordered by 15–25 acres of park land with picnic and other public areas.
In 2009, Canton opened the new renovation, the Canton Marketplace. It features a Super Target as well as a Kohl's, Lowe's, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, and more. Restaurants and other shopping pleasures have been a major boom in Canton industry.
Cherokee County School DistrictThe Cherokee County School District holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, that consists of twenty-three elementary schools, six middle schools, and six high schools. The district has 1,766 full-time teachers and over 28,434 students.
TransportationThe Cherokee County Airport (FAA LOC ID: 47A) is located adjacent to I-575 about six miles (10 km) northeast of downtown Canton, GA.
A redevelopment project currently underway includes:
- an already completed 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) terminal;
- the ongoing lengthening of the runway from its current 3,414 feet (1,041 m) to 5,000 feet (1,500 m);
- a new parallel taxiway;
- instrument landing equipment;
- new hangars.
Notable residentsR&B group Audio lives in Canton. Canton was the hometown of Joseph E. Brown. In 1844, Brown served as headmaster at the academy in Canton, which began his lifelong devotion to public education.
He was elected governor of Georgia in 1857 and later served as a United States Senator. Brown is the only person ever to have been elected governor of Georgia four times.
- Bruce Miller, current NFL player (San Francisco 49ers)
Popular cultureJosh Holloway, James "Sawyer" Ford of TV's "LOST" moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia when he was two. Josh Holloway attended Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia. He developed an interest in movies at a very young age. He studied at the University of Georgia for a year, but left to pursue a career as a model.
On July 21, 2008, Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report made a comment about John McCain making a campaign stop in Canton, Ohio, and "not the crappy Canton in Georgia." The comment resulted in a local uproar, with the Canton, Georgia, mayor insisting Colbert had never visited the town along with an invitation for him to do so. Colbert apologized for the story during his July 30, 2008, show. However, this began a running gag on the show in which he would apologize to one town and make several jokes at the expense of another town named Canton then repeat the cycle a week later.
He went on to insult Canton, Kansas, that night (drawing the ire of Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius) followed by Canton, South Dakota, on August 5, 2008, and Canton, Texas, on August 12, 2008. On October 28, Colbert turned his attention back to Canton, Ohio after Barack Obama made a campaign stop there, forcing Colbert to find it "crappy".
- City of Canton Website
- Cherokee County Ga News – The Cherokee Connection
- Cherokee County Democratic Party
- Cherokee County Republican Party
- Libertarian Party of Cherokee & Pickens Counties
- Cherokee Today
- Cherokee County School District Website
- Cherokee County Airport – FAA Master Record
- Chattahoochee Technical College
- Cherokee County School District
- Hickory Log Creek
- Chattahoochee Technical College
- Etowah River
- Trail of Tears
- Cherokee County