Carrollton, the seat of Carroll County, is a major educational, economic, and health care center for several counties in western Georgia and eastern Alabama. It is located approximately 50 miles west of Atlanta, 85 miles north of Columbus, 95 miles south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and 100 miles east of Birmingham, Alabama. Carrollton is rapidly being drawn into the Atlanta metropolitan area; it is approximately fifteen miles south of Interstate 20 and fifty miles west of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The Norfolk Southern Railroad serves Carrollton, and the West Georgia Regional Airport is located just north of town.
According to the 2010 census, the population of Carrollton was 24,388. The current governing body consists of a mayor and city council. A city manager supervises the day-to-day operation of the city.
Academy Award–winning actress Susan Hayward resided near Carrollton from 1957 until 1966 and is buried just north of town. Other well-known people who have lived in Carrollton include the sculptor Julian Harris and "Mark Trail" comic strip creator Ed Dodd.
Each year more than 7,000 people participate in programs sponsored by the Carrollton Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department. A new community theater is currently under construction just off the square. John Tanner State Park is located just west of town.
Before white settlement, the Carrollton area was home to the Creek Indians. One of their chiefs, William McIntosh, who resided south of Carrollton along the Chattahoochee River, was murdered there in 1825 for his lead role in signing away the remaining Creek lands east of the Mississippi River. Carroll County was created in 1826. The county and its seat, Carrollton, were both named in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, last living signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The first county seat, Old Carrollton, was located several miles east of the present city. Carrollton in its present location was incorporated on December 22, 1829, under a government of five commissioners elected for one-year terms. As late as 1850 Carrollton was the county's only incorporated town, with a population of 250. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Carrollton was an important point for the collection and shipment of cotton; Carroll was one of the state's leading counties in cotton production.
Carrollton's first large industry was Mandeville Mills. Established in 1890, this textile mill operated until 1954. Roy Richards Sr. founded a wire and cable manufacturing business known as Southwire in 1950, and since then this privately owned company has been a mainstay of the local economy. With plants all over the globe, Southwire retains its corporate headquarters in Carrollton. More than a third of the nation's homes contain wire from Southwire. From 1978 until 2001 Sony Music (originally CBS Records) operated the largest recorded-music manufacturing plant in the world in Carrollton. Sony still maintains warehousing and distribution operations there. In 2001 Wal-Mart opened its online catalog operation just north of Carrollton.
Tanner Health System, another major employer, operates a 220-bed acute-care hospital in Carrollton. The system also has two smaller acute-care hospitals and seven primary-care clinics in surrounding communities. Other top employers in Carrollton include Gold Kist and the University of West Georgia.
Carrollton, one of Georgia's Main Street cities, a state historic preservation program, is taking giant steps in improving the façades of businesses on the square. The city has an active recreation and cultural arts program, and in 2002 it was named a Georgia "City of Excellence" by the Georgia Municipal Association and Georgia Trend magazine.
In 1907 Carrollton became the site of one of the A&M schools mandated by the Georgia legislature in every congressional district in 1906. The Fourth District A&M School operated at Carrollton from 1909 to 1933. Its successor was West Georgia College, a junior college from 1933 to 1957 and a senior college from 1957 to 1996. In 1996 the college became the State University of West Georgia, with a 2002 enrollment of more than 9,000 students and more than 450 faculty. The university offers undergraduate and master's degree programs in the arts and sciences, education, and business, as well as a doctorate in education. The university also offers continuing education classes and training programs for individuals and businesses. In 2005 the name of the school changed once again, becoming the University of West Georgia.
A campus of West Georgia Technical College is located in Carrollton. The school opened in 1968 as Carroll Technical Institute to serve the residents of Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, and Haralson counties, and later became West Central Technical College. In July 2009 West Central Tech merged with with West Georgia Tech.
Carrollton's city school system is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Georgia Accrediting Commission. The Neva Lomason Memorial Library, located just north of the town square, is headquarters for the West Georgia Regional Library, which serves Carroll, Douglas, Haralson, Heard, and Paulding counties.