Smyrna is in northwest Metro Atlanta, with its center about 10 miles from Atlanta. It’s a short drive to Atlanta, without all the congestion. Its total area is about 15 square miles. It’s known as the Jonquil City due to all of its jonquil flowers that bloom in early Spring.
A Brief History of the Jonquil City
Smyrna (and Cobb County) was part of the Cherokee Nation until 1832, when the state of Georgia separated the land up based on where gold was expected to be found; it was given away in a land lottery. The white settlers who won then came to live on their new land in Smyrna, where Cherokees also remained until 1835. In 1836, the state of Georgia allowed for the creation of the Western and Atlantic Railroad from Chattanooga, which runs through the middle of Smyrna, to Decatur. The railroad was finished in 1842, and although the railroad was what would be the catalyst for its overall growth, the town was essentially a few railroad stops, homes, and farmland at the time. The area surrounding the present-day Smyrna Museum was named Varner’s Station. Ruff’s Siding was the name given to a train stop on present-day Windy Hill Road in Smyrna.
Gristmills and factories were built around the 1840s, which helped the growth of the community. The Concord Woolen Mill was opened in 1847, and made Confederate uniforms during the Civil War. It was burned down by Sherman’s troops in 1864. It was rebuilt, burned nearly completely down in 1889, and functioned again until 1916. Its ruins are what is now part of Cobb Heritage Park. Civil War battles were fought in the area the first week of July, 1864. July 3 was the Battle of Smyrna Camp Ground, and July 4 was the Battle of Ruff’s Mill at Nickajack Creek. Sherman’s troops burned most of the area’s buildings down. The Union troops occupied the area until moving out to Vinings Station (now Vinings) and Mableton on July 8, on their way to Atlanta.
Smyrna was officially incorporated as a municipality in 1872. Around this time, it had become primarily an agrarian community. There was still the railroad and industry, but the economy was mostly based on agriculture. By the late 1800s, it earned its title as the Jonquil City from its abundance of jonquil flowers, introduced by Samuel Taylor and his wife, who moved to Smyrna in 1883.
The 1950’s was a time of very quick growth for Smyrna. The decade started with 2,005 residents, and ended with over 10,000. This is credited to the re-opening of Lockheed aircraft production (it had been used for wartime production during WWII), which created thousands of jobs, and a need for housing. The population nearly doubled in size in the 1960’s, and had grown to 20,000 by 1970.
Smyrna (or, the Jonquil City) has been one of the fastest-growing cities in Georgia; its population grew 28% from 2000 to 2012, and hit over 53,000 as of 2013.
The Smyrna Welcome Center is located next-door to the Smyrna Museum. The building used to be the world-famous restaurant Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, which opened in 1941 as a food store, and closed in 1992. the museum was built as a replica of the 1910 Smyrna Train Depot, and displays the Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Society’s artifacts, photographs, publications, and more from Smyrna and Cobb County.
The Village Green was includes a spacious community center and a 28,000 square foot public library, as well as a green space and a lake. The 20th Century Veterans Memorial is also located here, which honors residents who have fought in the U.S. Armed Forces in the past century.
Market Village is the pedestrian-oriented “social center” of Smyrna, and is adjacent to the Village Green. It has luxury townhomes, over 40,000 square feet of retail space and upscale shops, 18,000 square feet of office space, and seven restaurants spanning from sushi to Italian, and everything in between.
The Silver Comet Trail opened in 1991, and is 61.5 miles; it stretches from Smyrna to the Georgia-Alabama state line. It is created on a former railroad bed, and named after one of the former passenger trains.
In 2005, city voters approved a historic $20 million parks expansion. There are 33 acres of parks and green space within 1 mile of downtown, including Taylor-Brawner Park.