No Georgia city has known growth and regrowth perhaps as well as metro-Atlanta’s Dunwoody. While it sits in Atlanta’s northern boundary, Dunwoody hasn’t always seen the steady stream of prosperity that other nearby suburbs have. This city’s past is instead one of incremental changes.

Originally home to tribes of Cherokee Native Americans and later named for its founder, Dunwoody began as a kind of overflow of bustling Roswell. Wealthy Atlanteans – according to Dunwoody Preservation and Trust – would travel to small town Dunwoody as a vacation destination. It wasn’t until that the train known as “Old Buck” began to pass through twice daily in the late 19th Century that Dunwoody saw the energy seen by neighboring communities. The railroad slowly attracted residents from neighboring Sandy Springs and Alpharetta and finally brought township and later union with the Atlanta electricity grid in 1930.

Still, Dunwoody remained a quiet community, one still considered by many to be just a large neighborhood or somewhere to reconnect with nature on holiday.

Then again in 1969, Dunwoody saw another shock to its population and industry. The construction of interstate 285 – that circles and marks metro-Atlanta’s boundaries – and Perimeter Mall (in 1971) changed the demographics drastically. The once “middle of nowhere” mall has grown the city nearly three times over to its current population of more than 50,000.

And while the population of Dunwoody is predominantly white, the demographics have grown as well. Dunwoody today is relatively diverse with 13% of its residents identifying as Black, 17% as Asian, and 9% as Hispanic or Latino.

What is even more striking is new growth data showing Dunwoody’s emergence as a top Atlanta suburb. In all sectors of Atlanta, Dunwoody has the highest ranking of educational attainment, the largest amount of daytime employment, and the second-highest per capita consumer spending.

Still, while Dunwoody has more office space then even Buckhead, it has a high vacancy rate of 18%. To read more about this study and future plans check out the City of Dunwoody’s EDGE 2.0 roadmap click here.

To explore how much Dunwoody has really changed one only needs to drive by on the highway. The city is seeking to grow itself again – into a walkable center of commerce and business to rival Buckhead – and to perhaps go through another phase of regrowth.

Jonathon Delaney

Jonathon Delaney is a contributor to Rough Draft Atlanta. He is a longtime resident of Atlanta and Decatur and a graduate of Georgia State University.