Fulton County is home to 15 cities, including the capital of Georgia, Atlanta. In 1932, as an austerity measure to save money during the Great Depression, Fulton County annexed Milton County to the north and Campbell County to the southwest, resulting in its current elongated shape along 80 miles (130 km) of the Chattahoochee River. On May 9 of that year, neighboring Cobb County ceded the city of Roswell and the land east of Willeo Creek to Fulton County. In the second half of the 20th century, Atlanta and Fulton County became the location of numerous national and international headquarters of leading companies, attracting highly qualified employees from across the country.
This led to the city and county becoming more cosmopolitan and diverse. In 1992, Fulton County elected the first African-American woman, Jacquelyn Harrison Barrett, to the position of sheriff in United States history. According to the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 534 square miles (1,380 km), of which 527 square miles (1,360 km) is land and 7.7 square miles (20 km) (1.4%) is water. The county is located in the Piedmont region of the state, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the north.
The shape of the county resembles a sword, with the handle in the northeastern part and the tip in the southwestern part. Fulton County is governed by a seven-member board of commissioners, whose members are elected from single-member districts. The county has a county administration system, in which daily operations are carried out by a manager appointed by the board. The chairman of the Board of Commissioners is generally elected to office throughout the county.
The vice-president is elected by his peers once a year. Since the 1970s, residents of Sandy Springs had waged a long battle to incorporate their community as a city, which would make it independent of control from Fulton County Council. Atlanta Democrats repeatedly blocked them in state legislature but when control passed to suburban Republicans after 2002 and 2004 elections, momentum for building a city gained traction. Some residents from northern suburbs have advocated that they be allowed to separate and reform Milton County after it was absorbed by Fulton County in 1932 during Great Depression.
Compared to other counties in Georgia, Fulton is physically large with population larger than each of six smallest United States. Nearly all major highways and all major interstate highways in Atlanta metropolitan area pass through Fulton County. Outside Atlanta proper, Georgia 400 is main highway that crosses north of Fulton and Interstate 85 to southwest. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport extends on both sides of border with Clayton County to south and is busiest airport in world.
The Fulton County airport often called Charlie Brown Field in honor of politician Charles M Brown is located just west-southwest of Atlanta city limit and managed as municipal or general aviation airport serving business and private aircraft. The Atlanta-Fulton County library system began in 1902 as Carnegie Library in Atlanta one of first public libraries in United States. In 1935 City of Atlanta and Fulton County Board of Commissioners signed contract under which library service was extended to all Fulton County then in 1982 Georgia voters approved constitutional amendment that authorized transfer of responsibility for library system from city of Atlanta to county on July 1 1983 transfer finally became official and system was renamed Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. In 2002 after one hundred years of library service to public major renovation of Central Library was completed.
Approximately 90% of city of Atlanta is within Fulton County other 10% is within DeKalb County Residents from affluent areas North Fulton increasingly complaining that Fulton County Board of Commissioners has ignored their needs and taken taxes collected in North Fulton and spent them on programs and services less prosperous South Fulton Main opponents proposed division come from residents southern Fulton County who claim proposed separation racially motivated Dana Barrett is Fulton County Commissioner who represents District 3 which includes all Buckhead and parts Sandy Springs and Midtown Atlanta is largest city in Fulton County occupying narrow central section county thus geographically dividing northern and southern parts county Four cities include land outside county but still have their government center and most land within Fulton County North Fulton residents have been requesting service extend North Line ten miles (16 km) along Georgia 400 corridor from Perimeter Center neighboring city Alpharetta.