The city's name was originally spelled Jonesborough. During the Civil War, the final skirmish in the Atlanta Campaign was fought here south of Atlanta, cutting off the city and forcing the mayor of Atlanta to surrender at Marietta in early September 1864. The final fall of Atlanta in the Battle of Jonesborough ended up being a decisive point in the nation's history, propelling Abraham Lincoln to re-election two months later, and continuing the war until the Confederacy finally surrendered the following year.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2), of which 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (1.89%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,829 people, 1,466 households, and 1,023 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,477.4 people per square mile (570.8/km²). There were 1,561 housing units at an average density of 602.3 per square mile (232.7/km²). The racial composition of the city was 72.79% African American, 20.63% White, 0.21% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 3.45% from other races, and 1.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.55% of the population. In the past 2 years that population has doubled to about 15.86%.