On December 8, the city of Woodstock will celebrate its 125th birthday! In the northern arc of metro Atlanta, it isn't rare to come across a city that is younger than my second grader. By comparison, our city has a rich history and a compelling story. As our tourism department will remind you, it truly is "A City Unexpected."
In the early 19th century, pioneers and their families were settling the land our city rests on today. They began to start new lives and build a new place in a new world. At about the same time, Sir Walter Scott, the renowned Scottish novelist, was completing his 15th novel, Woodstock. The book became a sensation, and the story found its way to the pioneer settlers who decided to name their community after it.
By 1833, the settlement had a postmaster, and churches began to organize. Families settled near waterways and were mostly self-supporting. The area was largely spared the destruction of Sherman's march through north Georgia. It remained a rural farm community until 1879 when the railroad and its depot brought new life.
With the opportunity brought by the railroad, on December 8, 1897, Georgia's General Assembly granted a charter and incorporated the community into the city of Woodstock. In case there was any question of the importance of the railroad to our history, Woodstock's original boundaries were set at three-fourth mile north and south of the train depot and one-half mile east and west of the railroad tracks. In 1912, a new depot was built and remained in service into the 1950s. That historic depot still stands and is now a restaurant in the heart of downtown.
As Woodstock grew, cotton brokers, bankers, blacksmiths, and barbers lined the west side of Main Street with cotton warehouses on the east side. To the north, a mill where rope was produced sat on Little River. The remains of Rope Mill can still be seen today. The city continued its progress toward the 21st century with Main Street being paved in 1912, and the completion of the first stage of Interstate 575 in 1980.
In 1990, Woodstock's population was roughly 4,500. Today, our population is estimated above 36,000, making it the 28th largest city in Georgia. Money Magazine named Woodstock one of the "50 Best Places to Live in America," Homes.com lists it as the third best suburb to move to in the United States, and SafeWise.com lists it as the 12th safest city in Georgia. In 2021, the city saw more than 3 million visitors to its downtown shopping district, ranking it among the most popular downtown destinations for tourism in the southeast.
Over the course of 125 years, Woodstock has had 31 mayors, and it's an honor to serve as the 31st leader of this amazing community. In a city that has grown from 4,500 to 36,000 in three decades, most of us can't claim family roots for more than a generation (myself included). We're a city of people who chose this place. We have inherited a rich history, and we're continuing to build a community that we'll be proud to pass on to our children.
As we celebrate 125 years, here's to the Woodstock citizens who came before us and to all who will call our city home in the years to come.