Duluth is a city in Gwinnett County, Georgia and an increasingly more affluent and developed suburb of Atlanta. Unincorporated portions of Forsyth County also have Duluth as a mailing address, though this area is outside city limits. Much of the adjacent city of Johns Creek (incorporated in 2006) uses one of the Duluth ZIP codes.
As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 26,600.
Duluth is a suburb of Atlanta, close to Interstate 85. It is home to Gwinnett Place Mall, Gwinnett Civic and Cultural Center, Arena at Gwinnett Center, Hudgens Center for the Arts and Red Clay Theater. It is also home to Gwinnett Medical Center – Duluth, an 81-bed hospital constructed in 2006, as well as GMC's Glancy Campus, a 30-bed facility located near downtown. Nearby attractions include Stone Mountain and Lake Lanier. The agricultural manufacturer AGCO is based in Duluth.
Duluth's roots as a community stretch back to the early 19th century, when it was primarily forest land occupied by Cherokee Indians. An Indian trail, called Old Peachtree Road by the settlers, was extended through the area during the War of 1812 to connect Fort Peachtree in present day Atlanta with Fort Daniel near present day Dacula. With the creation of Gwinnett County, Georgia in 1818, white settlement of the area accelerated.
The City of Duluth was named after Duluth, Minnesota which was named after Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut (1636–1710), a French captain and explorer of the upper Midwest. He negotiated and signed peace between the Chippewa and the Sioux nation. Duluth was originally part of the Cherokee Indian territory.
Duluth's forefather, cotton merchant Evan Howell, constructed a road connecting his cotton gin at the Chattahoochee River with Old Peachtree Road, creating Howell's Cross Roads. The settlement later became known as Howell's Crossing. Evan Howell was the grandfather of Atlanta Mayor Evan P. Howell and great grandfather of Atlanta Constitution publisher Clark Howell. His descendants continue to live in the area, but only Howell Ferry Rd. in Duluth bears the name.
The town was renamed Duluth in 1871 after Congress approved funding for a north-south railroad connecting it with the better known Duluth, Minnesota.
The railroad was an enormous boost to the Duluth economy. A school house was built in 1871 on the site of what is now The Monarch School (formerly Duluth Middle School). The first Methodist church was organized in 1871, and the first Baptist congregation formed in 1886. Both churches continue today at new locations along State Route 120. The Bank of Duluth was charted in 1904, followed by the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1911. Neither survived the Depress In 1922, Duluth elected Georgia's first female mayor, Alice Harrell Strickland. She donated of land for a "community forest" and began efforts to conserve land for public recreation.
Post-war and modern era
Duluth grew rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s along with the rest of Gwinnett County. Georgia Governor George Busbee became a resident of Duluth in 1983 after leaving office, moving to the Sweet Bottom Plantation subdivision developed by Scott Hudgens. A major revitalization of the Duluth downtown area was undertaken in the early 21st century. Development along Sugarloaf Parkway has continued with construction of the Gwinnett Arena near the Gwinnett Convention Center.
In much of the 20th century, when Gwinnett County was still rural, Duluth was known in the area as being one of the few small towns with its own hospital, Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital. Consequently, many older residents of the area who call other towns home were actually born in Duluth. Joan Glancy was replaced with Gwinnett Medical Center - Duluth in 2006. The site of the old Joan Glancy hospital is now GMC's Glancy Campus, home to the Glancy Rehabilitation Center, the Duluth location of GMC's Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center and the Duluth location of GMC's Center for Sleep Disorders.
The city made national headlines twice in 2005. In March, Fulton County Courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols was captured in a Duluth apartment after holding a woman hostage. In April, local resident Jennifer Wilbanks was reported missing a few days before her planned wedding to John Mason. She was found a few days later in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she admitted to having lied about being kidnapped.