Never heard of Johns Creek? You’re not alone! This city of some 80,000 plus people in Fulton County, Georgia, is a hidden gem with a rather interesting history. It was only incorporated as a city in 2006, making it quite young, but it has existed in one form or another since Colonial times.
The Johns Creek area began life as a scattered series of small trading posts, where the Colonists living in Georgia could come trade with the Cherokee Nation. Over time, several of these trading posts grew in prominence, with some seeing farming communities growing up around them, and others serving as ferry crossing sites.
This lively trade with the Indians continued into the 1820’s. At that time, gold was discovered on Cherokee land, and the US Government forced the Indians from the area, sending them on what would become known as the Trail of Tears.
With the discovery of gold, the population in the area swelled, but then, once new discoveries died out, the area went into decline. With few Indians remaining to trade with, and no gold coming out of the old Indian lands to the north, there was little reason to remain in the area, and few did. Although sparsely populated, this area was organized into two separate counties. The former Indian lands becoming Cherokee county, and the Johns Creek area folded into Milton county.
If it can be said that the forced removal of the Cherokee, and the depletion of the area’s gold mines were the two events that sparked the decline of the Johns Creek area, then the Great Depression put the final nail in the coffin. The area was decimated by the Depression. So much so that during the Depression, Milton county was dissolved, and the sparsely populated Johns Creek area became a rural, backwater part of Fulton county.
Up until recent times, then, Johns Creek was little more than a memory. Yes, it was mentioned on a few old maps, but few people alive in 1981 had any idea about the area’s colorful history and its role in trade with the Cherokee.
That changed when the Georgia Institute of Technology purchased some 1700 acres of land in the region, and dubbed it “Technology Park/Johns Creek.” Upon completion, the high tech office park drew more than 200 companies to the area, including a number of Fortune 500 companies, all of whom built sprawling office complexes there.
Initially, people commuted into the office park, but it didn’t take long before developers seized on the new opportunity, and began building luxury housing for the high paid workforce. As the push for housing local to the park gained traction, the area swelled in population, seemingly overnight.
As people flooded back into the area, it was only a matter of time before talk began about incorporating themselves into a proper city, and that initiative began in grassroots fashion in 2000, culminating in Georgia’s Governor, Sonny Purdue, signing HB 1321 into law in March of 2006, which is when the city was formally incorporated.
It is now listed as the 13th most affluent city in America, and as anyone who has ever visited can tell you, it lives up to its slogan: “The exception to the everyday.” Pay the city a visit and see for yourself!