Decatur is a city in, and the county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, which is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. With a population of 24,928 in the 2020 census, the municipality is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple ZIP Codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear Decatur as the address. The city is served by three MARTA rail stations (Decatur, East Lake, and Avondale). The city is located approximately five miles (eight kilometers) northeast of Downtown Atlanta and shares its western border with both the city of Atlanta (the Kirkwood and Lake Claire neighborhoods) and unincorporated DeKalb County. The Druid Hills neighborhood is to the northwest of Decatur. The unofficial motto of Decatur used by some residents is “Everything is Greater in Decatur.”
Prior to European settlement, the Decatur area was largely forested (a remnant of old-growth forest near Decatur is preserved as Fernbank Forest). Decatur was established at the intersection of two Native American trails: the Sandtown, which led east from the Chattahoochee River at Utoy Creek, and the Shallowford, which follows today’s Clairmont Road, and eventually crossed near Roswell. A site for the DeKalb County courthouse was designated in 1822 in what would become downtown Decatur; the city of Decatur was incorporated on December 10, 1823. It was named for United States Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur.