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Ga. 400: Where it's been

It’s no secret the population along the Ga. 400 corridor has exploded in recent years as the area developed a knack for excellent dining, natural amenities and a high quality of life. All that praise, arguably, is due to the roadway itself.

Since its initial dedication in 1971 and expansion through the next decade, Ga. 400 has driven growth to the area by making the big city and its workers more easily accessible to each other.

That access was fed by a want to live with more space outside of the city bustle that was close enough to commute to work.

According to census data, between 1970 and 2010 populations grew from 16,928 to 175,511 in Forsyth County, 2,455 to 57,551 in Alpharetta, 5,430 to 88,346 in Roswell and from 3,639 to 22,330 in Dawson County.

The northward population trend mirrored the expansion of the state route.

Roswell saw a population explosion from 5,430 in 1970 to 23,337 in 1980. Alpharetta didn’t boom until the next decade, when it grew from 3,128 residents in 1980 to 13,002 in 1990. From 1990 to 2000, Forsyth County’s population more than doubled from 44,068 to 98,407.

The influx of growth has brought in new neighbors and opportunities while shaking up what had been smaller and quieter communities with less “transplants.”

The corridor is filled with more memories of those days gone by than just the Smokey and the Bandit backdrop, covered by new development and urban sprawl.

Though it may be fun to look to the future and what’s in store for the area, sometimes it is nice to take a look back.

Lake Lanier

Named for poet Sidney Lanier, Lake Lanier is one of the most popular recreation areas in the state and is the water source for Atlanta.

The man-made reservoir began filling with water from the Chattahoochee River in 1956, following the completion of Buford Dam on the Forsyth-Gwinnett county line.

Before the lake was impounded, the area in east Forsyth County was home to communities, churches and even a racetrack, which was briefly unsunk during the heavy drought lasting between 2007-2009.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Since the 1970s, the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell has worked to educate families and visitors on area wildlife and the importance of a healthy river.

The center sits on 127 acres and hosts more than 100,000 visitors every year. At the center, visitors can hike wildlife trails, learn about ecology and visit a discovery center featuring live animals and interactive exhibits.

Downtown Cumming

Totaling just more than 6 square miles and with just about 5,000 residents, most of Forsyth’s population lives outside the city limits, making Cumming among the smallest county seats in metro Atlanta.

But its small stature doesn’t mean it lacks history.

The city was incorporated in 1833 and named for Col. William Cumming, who fought in the War of 1812. Today, downtown Cumming is the home to several small businesses, courts and government buildings.

Perhaps the most popular space is the Cumming Fairgrounds, the site of the annual Cumming Country Fair & Festival since 1995.

King and Queen

Though officially called Concourse Corporate Center V and VI, the King and Queen towers operate as unofficial gate to the Ga. 400 corridor.

The skyscrapers in Sandy Springs, which earned their nicknames due to their resemblance to chess pieces, are the most notable roadside sights as the highway crosses Interstate-285, referred to as Atlanta’s perimeter.

The Queen tower opened in 1988, and the King followed in 1991. Both buildings are part of the Concourse Center at Landmark Park.