DeKalb County shopping center updated but holds onto Toco Hill name

Q: The shopping center on the corner of North Druid Hills and LaVista roads in Atlanta recently put up a huge, new sign that says “Toco Hill.” Where does the name Toco Hill come from?

—Joni Pelta, Atlanta

A: "Toco" is believed to be a phrase that the original developer, Clyde Shepherd, learned from a Brazilian Indian when he built airbases in that country during World War II, according to past AJC stories and the current owners of the shopping center, Edens. It is reported to mean to "have better luck than you think you'll have." Shepherd reportedly then paired the word with a hill that once was on the DeKalb County property.

The original Toco Hill sign was put up along the road in the middle of the 20th century, and it was torn down in the late 1980s or early 90s, according to Edens, which is redeveloping Toco Hill shopping center. Local Pizzaiolo, Hudson Grille, the vintage furniture and home décor shop Westside Market and Spiller Park Coffee are among new and planned eateries and shops.

The re-creation of the sign is based on the original — before it was painted. The new sign is in the center’s new plaza area, according to Edens, and integrated into the gathering space, which will also have a fountain.

Q: How many Georgia cities straddle two or more counties?

—Lance DeLoach, Thomaston

A: More than 30 cities are located in at least two counties, according to the Georgia Municipal Association. That includes Atlanta, which is in DeKalb and Fulton counties.

Braselton, for example, is located in four counties—Barrow, Gwinnett, Jackson and Hall. The town, located northeast of Atlanta and incorporated in 1916, isn’t alone in spanning four counties. So does Allentown, which stretches into Wilkinson, Bleckley, Twiggs and Laurens counties in middle Georgia.

Only one—Royston—is located in three counties—Franklin, Hart and Madison counties. The northeast Georgia town was incorporated in 1879.

GMA’s list also includes these metro Atlanta cities: Austell (Cobb and Douglas), Buford (Gwinnett and Hall), Loganville (Gwinnett and Walton) and Auburn (Barrow and Gwinnett).

There are two ways that cities come to be located in more than one county, said GMA spokeswoman Amy Henderson. Either cities grow into another county, or when the counties were divided up, some cities ended up in more than one.

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