Atlanta: Race, Class And Urban Expansion

Larry Keating
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Atlanta, the epitome of the New South, is a city whose economic growth has transformed it from a provincial capital to a global city, one that could bid for and win the 1996 Summer Olympics. Yet the reality is that the exceptional growth of the region over the last twenty years has exacerbated inequality, particularly for African Americans. Atlanta, the city of Martin Luther King, Jr., remains one of the most segregated cities in the United States.Despite African American success in winning the mayor's office and control of the City Council, development plans have remained in the control of private business interests. Keating tells a number of troubling stories. The development of the Underground Atlanta, the construction of the rapid rail system (MARTA), the building of a new stadium for the Braves, the redevelopment of public housing, and the arrangements for the Olympic Games all share a lack of democratic process. Business and political elites ignored protests from neighborhood groups, the interests of the poor, and the advice of planners.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0449-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Fortuitously poised as a Sun Belt regional center, Atlanta grew faster than most metropolitan areas over the past twenty-five years. But the expansion of the economy and the increase in population exacerbated historical class and racial separations. Income inequality increased, particularly for African Americans. The end of legal segregation opened economic doors for segments of the black population, but few blacks entered the upper classes, and poor blacks’ relative economic position deteriorated. The type of work people do is still largely determined by race and sex. White women increased their presence in better jobs, and black women moved into white-collar...

  6. 2 Race, Class, and the Atlanta Economy
    (pp. 7-40)

    Metropolitan Atlanta has grown rapidly since the end of World War II. Up until the 1990s, most of this growth occurred in the city’s northern suburbs. Underwritten by subsidies for expressways, owner-occupied housing, and schools, this dramatic shift northward was overtly racial at first. Affluent whites moved to the northern suburbs to live at a distance from the city’s blacks, whom segregation had concentrated in the near south side. Eventually this northward shift in the city’s white population, though still heavily subsidized, became a self-reinforcing trend.

    The expansive growth of residential development in the north metro area brought growth in...

  7. 3 Race, Class, and the Atlanta Housing Market
    (pp. 41-68)

    Atlanta enjoys a progressive image as a city with fairly benign race relations. After the white primary was declared illegal by the courts in 1946, Mayor William Hartsfield maintained close contact with established black leaders and accommodated some black requests for reform, most notably accepting black voter registration and hiring a small number of black police.¹ In the ’60s, Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. continued to maintain close contact with the city’s black leaders, and he eventually supported significant portions of the civil-rights movement and school desegregation. Indeed, Atlanta was an administrative center of the black struggle for equal rights during...

  8. 4 Atlanta Politics and the Governing Elite
    (pp. 69-87)

    Throughout most of the past fifty years, Atlanta politics was dominated by the city’s downtown business leaders. The power of the downtown business elite has waned recently, but up until the early 1980s it was the central force in Atlanta politics. With one exception, members of this downtown elite wielded power not by holding political office but by influencing major decisions made by elected officials. The one exception to this was Ivan Allen Jr., a prominent member of the downtown elite who served two terms as mayor in the ’60s.

    The major goal of downtown business leaders was to redevelop...

  9. 5 Redevelopment, Atlanta Style
    (pp. 88-112)

    In 1960, while Ivan Allen Jr. was president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, just before he started his campaign for mayor, he delivered a speech to the chamber that he called the “Six-Point Program.” It was a kind of civic manifesto, in which Allen outlined what he thought the city’s redevelopment goals should be. Allen had formulated this program with Jim Robinson and Ed Smith, respectively chairman of the board and president of the First National Bank, and it reflected what the city’s downtown business leaders wanted. It proposed six major redevelopment objectives: continued construction of expressways, urban renewal,...

  10. 6 MARTA
    (pp. 113-141)

    A major part of Atlanta’s downtown redevelopment efforts was its construction of a rapid-rail system. Plans for a rail system were formulated beginning in the early ’60s, and construction began in the early ’70s. The most striking feature of this undertaking was that it was essentially an effort to enhance the city’s image, not a realistic solution to the region’s transportation needs. A study issued in 1967 maintained that an expanded and improved bus system would serve the city just as well and far less expensively than a rapid-rail system. Two years later, another study argued with what seemed like...

  11. 7 The Olympics Era
    (pp. 142-163)

    The announcement in September 1990 that Atlanta had won the bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics caused considerable excitement throughout the city and spurred a major effort to get ready for the grand event. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) built several facilities that were later transformed into permanent features of the city. Two of these were in the downtown area: the Olympic Stadium and Centennial Olympic Park, a plaza where corporate sponsors of the Games put on promotional exhibits. After the Olympics, the Olympic Stadium was converted to a baseball stadium, and the park became a public...

  12. 8 Downtown Redevelopment During the Olympics Era
    (pp. 164-193)

    Most of the major redevelopment projects undertaken in and around downtown Atlanta during the Olympics preparation period had problematic, controversial aspects. First of all, the new Olympic/Braves stadium built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games inflicted further damage on the low-income black neighborhoods that had already suffered from the existing stadium. Neighborhood representatives at first opposed building the new stadium next to the old one, and they called for a participatory planning process to replace the secret agreement on the Olympic stadium. But they eventually recognized that they could not block the stadium or reopen the planning process,...

  13. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 194-210)

    Over the past two decades, Atlanta politics has undergone a significant change. No longer is the city’s biracial coalition the political force it was in the ’60s and ’70s. One major reason for this has been a decline in the power and influence of the white downtown business elite. The growth of the north metro area has diminished the importance of downtown as a business center and has created new centers of power in both metro-area and state politics. Just as important, Atlanta’s economy has become increasingly national and international in scope, and it is no longer dominated by local...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 211-226)
  15. Index
    (pp. 227-232)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)