Buford is a city in Gwinnett and Hall counties in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 12,225. Most of the city is in Gwinnett County, which is part of the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Metropolitan Statistical Area. The portions of the city in Hall County are not part of Atlanta's metropolitan statistical area, but are part of Atlanta's larger Combined Statistical Area, which includes Hall County.
The recorded history of Buford began in early 19th century. The area that is now Buford was originally Cherokee territory and despite the treaty in 1817 that ceded the territory to the United States and Gwinnett County's legislative establishment in 1818, the area was still largely inhabited by Cherokee until the 1830s. The first non-Native American moved to the Buford area in the late 1820s or early 1830s, although the Buford area was not largely inhabited by non-Native Americans until the 1860s.
During the post-civil war construction of the extended Richmond and Danville Railroad System, railroad stockholders Thomas Garner and Larkin Smith purchased land around the railroad's right-of-way and began developing the city of Buford. The city was named after Algernon Sidney Buford, who was president of the Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railway during the railroad's construction. The town began rapidly expanding after the railway's completion in 1871 of the railroad that now runs through downtown Buford. Buford was incorporated as the Town of Buford on August 24, 1872, and the name was changed to the City of Buford in 1896.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s Buford became widely known for its leather production, becoming prominently associated with the leather industry and earning the nickname "The Leather City". Buford became a large producer of leather products, including saddles, horse collars, bridles, and shoes. Bona Allen saddles were available through the Sears mail order catalog, and many Hollywood actors used saddles made by the Bona Allen Company, including cowboy actors Gene Autry, the cast of Bonanza, and Roy Rogers, who used a Bona Allen saddle on his horse Trigger. A statue of Roy Rogers and a Bona Allen saddle-maker saddling Trigger is located in downtown Buford.
After the Great Depression the use of horses for farming decreased and tractors took their place, and the Bona Allen Company steadily downsized until the tannery was eventually sold to the Tandy Corporation in 1968. Buford's leather industry ended after the tannery experienced a fire in 1981, when the Tandy Corporation decided not to rebuild the tannery and closed the facility. Unlike most cities, Buford no longer has a mayor. The final mayor was Carl W. Pirkle, who owned a hardware shop located in downtown Buford.