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Andrea

What drives development in Atlanta?

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This is super complicated but it might be interesting to hear what people think. What causes some neighborhoods to decline, while others boom? Why does development go east rather than north, or into Cobb rather than Gwinnett? Do roads and transportation cause new growth, or do they simply go where they are needed? Why build some neighborhoods with curvy streets and others with rectangular grids, and what effect does that have on growth? What was the theory behind the "urban development" that devastated so many areas during the 1940s-60's? Why did Altanta spread out rather than becoming more dense?

I'd love to hear what people think about these and other factors that made Atlanta grow the way it has.

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Wow, each one of those questions could be a thread unto itself. I'll take a stab at whether or not transportation causes new growth.

I would answer an emphatic yes to that question, and go further by saying that transportation also plays a key role as to what type of growth occurs. In his book "How Cities Work" Alex Marshell says that (and I am paraphrasing) cities built around rail will naturally be dense and walkable, while cities that are built around the auto (and highways) will inevitibly lead to sprawl. History bears this out.

Rail:

New York

Boston

Chicago

San Francisco

Car:

Atlanta

Dallas

Houston

Vegas

LA

I'll try to get into this more a little later.

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Although people don't talk about it that much I also think race is a huge factor. We lived in East Lake when "blockbusting" took place. It was a great neighborhood and suddenly everybody it seemed like everybody vamoosed to DeKalb, Cobb or Gwinnett County, almost overnight. That was pretty extreme and I'd like to think that sort of panic wouldn't happen again today, but I believe it's still a very big problem.

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It's also kind of funny how the southside took longer to get developed. I live 38 miles south of Atlanta but we just started to experience growth 10 years ago, while Canton around 40 miles north of Atlanta has seen a great deal of growth for a lot longer

It's kind of funny to think about what ATL would be like if it has grown south. The Ghetto would be in Buckhead and all the ritzy neghborhoods would be in East Point and College Park! And Henry county would be a huge sprawling mess like Gwinnett.

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It's also kind of funny how the southside took longer to get developed. I live 38 miles south of Atlanta but we just started to experience growth 10 years ago, while Canton around 40 miles north of Atlanta has seen a great deal of growth for a lot longer.

Yes, I wonder why this happened? Geographically and historically, the south side of Atlanta would certainly seem to have had just as much going for it as the north side.

I still think race may have had something to do with it. I remember having a conversation about 30 years ago with two couples who were moving to Atlanta, and hearing them talk about what they perceived as the "desirable" part of town to live in. They said they had first been told not to go south of I-20, and then were later told to stay north of Memorial Drive. After looking around, they concluded that to "be on the safe side" they shouldn't go south of Emory University. They ultimately settled for Morningside and the Toco Hills area, but within five years they'd headed for Duluth.

I grew up south of Memorial Drive and (horror of horrors) south of I-20, so I remember feeling put down and hurt by this conversation. However, I also understood the divisions of race and class these newcomers were absorbing. I think they are profoundly embedded in the fabric of the Atlanta area and have had a lot to do with the paths growth has followed.

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I still think race may have had something to do with it. I remember having a conversation about 30 years ago with two couples who were moving to Atlanta, and hearing them talk about what they perceived as the "desirable" part of town to live in. They said they had first been told not to go south of I-20, and then were later told to stay north of Memorial Drive. After looking around, they concluded that to "be on the safe side" they shouldn't go south of Emory University. They ultimately settled for Morningside and the Toco Hills area, but within five years they'd headed for Duluth.

This reminds me of when my family moved to Alpharetta. My dad's coworker (also a recent transplant from NYC, I believe) told him to stay away from Piedmont Park at all costs. Piedmont Park! This was in 1997. I don't think he even knew where it was.

Race is definitely a major factor in Atlanta's development, still, to this day. It's self-selecting... hence, people like my dad's enlightened buddy and your Duluth couple live in subdivisions with the people they're comfortable with, while others who don't mind (or can't afford to mind) living near someone of another race live in the city.

Are there really any "mixed" suburbs? Gwinnett, I suppose, has big Hispanic and white communities, but it doesn't seem truly integrated, rather divided along economic lines. Same with DeKalb... Dunwoody to Doraville to Lithonia all certainly have different demographics but seem fairly homogenous within each community. Add to this the fact that such a majority of development is in subdivisions, and the capacity for segregation is even higher. If you've got a subdivision of $500k+ houses across the road from one with $150k+ houses, that's some pretty intense segregation, in a pretty small space, and the only time the two communities would ever have to meet is maybe at the Kroger.

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^ Regarding Piedmont Park - that may have been a stab at gays.

The most mixed suburban neighborhoods are in central Dekalb & central Cobb. Though it would be nice to suggest that intown areas are more integrated, that isn't the case - they are often as segregated as outer suburban areas.

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I hate to agree but it was race that determined the development....then came in a dose of socioeconomics...and voila' you have neighborhoods with decided racial flavors and now socioeconomic flavors. Question though....aren't alot of neighborhoods in NYC just as or evern more segregated than many Atlanta neighborhoods?

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I hate to agree but it was race that determined the development....then came in a dose of socioeconomics...and voila' you have neighborhoods with decided racial flavors and now socioeconomic flavors. Question though....aren;t alot of neighborhoods in NYC just as or evern more segregated than many Atlanta neighborhoods?

yes they are...especially Queens.

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In the end, people will live in a particular area due to many factors, including: commute distance to work, school districts, proximity to shopping/services & family. And yes, people do tend to live in areas where there's others like them (race). It's not that this is necessarily a "bad" thing. It's human nature. We like & gravitate towards the familiar.

Sure, we have a ways to go to achieve racial harmony, but to suggest that people who live in areas of like racial makeup are "cocktail racists" (as suggested on another thread) is simply absurd.

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Sure, we have a ways to go to achieve racial harmony, but to suggest that people who live in areas of like racial makeup are "cocktail racists" (as suggested on another thread) is simply absurd.

I agree with this point partially. That's why I throw in socioeconomics also because I know many people amongst my aquaintance who will not live around certain income levels regardless their skin color....and they make no compunctions about it. Being around people like you today goes beyond race...it's often socioeconomics, education levels, familial structure (mommy & daddy), some times even religious reasons.

However being a long time Atlanta resident like Andrea, we have seen the southside given a negative image not because it was particularly bad....but rather you would more likely see a particular race of person there than you would on the northside. Again, I don't think it's like that any longer to the extent it was...there is a sizable black population living on the northside as well as the southside.

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And yes, people do tend to live in areas where there's others like them (race). It's not that this is necessarily a "bad" thing. It's human nature. We like & gravitate towards the familiar.

I'm not convinced at all that it's "human nature" for people to segregate by race.

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I'm not convinced at all that it's "human nature" for people to segregate by race.

It's some sort of psychological thing. People will usually group together with similar things.

Take my high school classes. In my Psychology class, all of the Black kids (except for a couple) sit in this one area of the room while all of the white ones sit in another section. It's nothing intentional (like the days when there was a black and a white water fountain), it's just how things came to happen and fall into pace.

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^ Regarding Piedmont Park - that may have been a stab at gays.

The most mixed suburban neighborhoods are in central Dekalb & central Cobb. Though it would be nice to suggest that intown areas are more integrated, that isn't the case - they are often as segregated as outer suburban areas.

I totally agree, Brad. I believe some neighborhoods in Gwinnett are also becoming very mixed.

I've never seen any studies but just based on my own observations, my impression is that a significant part of the "return to the city" movement has been white folks. As I mentioned in another thread, since 2000 the ratio of African American to white residents dropped from 61/33 to 54/39. That's narrowing the black/white gap from 28 percentage points to 15 points in just a few short years. If that trend continues the city will be about 50/50 by 2008.

I'm not enough of a sociologist to know whether that's good, bad or indifferent, but I do think it's clear that the urban demographic is shifting.

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It's some sort of psychological thing. People will usually group together with similar things.

Take my high school classes. In my Psychology class, all of the Black kids (except for a couple) sit in this one area of the room while all of the white ones sit in another section. It's nothing intentional (like the days when there was a black and a white water fountain), it's just how things came to happen and fall into pace.

That's interesting because when I was in high school...you probably was not born or a little baby...this was not the case. Years later you mean to tell me we are going backwards? WOW.....

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That's interesting because when I was in high school...you probably was not born or a little baby...this was not the case. Years later you mean to tell me we are going backwards? WOW.....

I didn't notice the division until my psychology teacher himself pointed it out. I've got another class like that, too.However, there's usually no objection if someone from another group sits in their group.

However, my other classes are pretty well "integrated". It's not really a conscious thing, or at least not an easily noticed tendency. Of course, it probably has something to do with cultural and/or social identity.

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It's some sort of psychological thing. People will usually group together with similar things.

Take my high school classes. In my Psychology class, all of the Black kids (except for a couple) sit in this one area of the room while all of the white ones sit in another section. It's nothing intentional (like the days when there was a black and a white water fountain), it's just how things came to happen and fall into pace.

IC, I really appreciate what you're saying but I have a hard time accepting the idea that there is something inherent in human beings that makes them want to segregate by race. Even if that were the case, I don't think we can ignore the profound stigma of race, or the extremely complex sociological, economic and psychological layers which are intertwined with it.

You know, up until a few years before I went off to the University of Georgia, not one single black resident of this state had ever been permitted to enroll there. It didn't matter whether their family had lived in this state for 150 years, whether they had worked the land on their own or as somebody's slave, whether their daddy had fought for the country in wars, or anything else. That's not even the tip of the iceberg. You can't fix all that in a couple of generations.

Let me hasten to add that I'm a dyed-in-the-gray-wool Southerner, whose people came down to Georgia from Virginia in the 1830s, and whose great-great-great-grandpa slogged through the red Georgia mud for General Joe Johnston. I grew up with the South being the butt of every hillbilly and redneck stereotype and I got sick of that a long time ago. Yes, we have a very complex and sad history of racial oppression, although I'm still not too happy to have anybody who hasn't lived through it come down here and lecture me about it.

In any case, while I don't mean to turn this into a big civil rights discussion, I don't believe we can pass off the hugely complex ways that race affects the development of our city by saying, "Oh, it's just human nature for folks to want to be with their own kind."

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I can agree with ironchapman's post. I remember when I first went to Georgia state, I would sit with the black kids in the lounge because that's what I was used to. I wanted to be around people I was comfortable around. Eventually I adjusted and met different types of people.

IMO, racial steering has somewhat of a part as well. My neighbor who is white, was familiar with the area that I live in and wanted to look at a home. She was told that she shouldnt look there because the neighborhood is becoming majority black.

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There's a recent book out, White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism, which describes how white flight in the 1950's-70's resulted in the decline of the central city and the rise of Atlanta's massive suburbs:

The "Peyton Wall" incident [where Mayor Ivan Allen erected a physical barrier in an attempt to keep blacks from encroaching on a white neighborhood], as famous as it was fleeting, was only the most public eruption of the much larger phenomenon of white flight. That year alone, the beleaguered mayor noted, City Hall had been confronted with 52 separate cases of "racial transition," incidents in which whites fled from neighborhoods as blacks bought homes there. And although the information never appeared in Atlanta's positive press coverage, a steady stream of white flight had in fact been underway for nearly a decade. During the five years before the 1962 Peyton Forest panic, for instance, nearly 30,000 whites had abandoned the city. Afterward, the numbers only grew larger. In 1960 the total white population of Atlanta stood at barely more than 300,000. Over the course of that decade, roughly 60,000 whites fled from Atlanta. During the 1970s, another 100,000 would leave as well.

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I think it's a lottle bit of both. I sometimes like to be around people who are more like me, but I also like to be around people who are different. I don't think we should make racial segregation all right by saying that it's human nature though. I also think it's in human nature to be with different people, (opposites attract) but we have to warm up to it first.

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I have a question to everybody.....

Your opinion matters so I'm interested in anyone's opinion...especially those old enough to make decisions on where to buy a home. Here's the question:

What does "I want to be around people like me" mean?

or...

What does "I feel more comfortable being/living around people like me" mean?

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Good question - my answer for that question lies more with political / cultural identity. Which would be middle class moderate / liberal.

Hence why nationally, 'intown' areas are becoming segregated liberal ghettos while early post WWII suburbs are becoming much more integrated racially & culturally.

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I think it means what it says. You just feel more comfortable around people who you can relate to (or who you think you can relate to) I've found that sometimes I can relate more to a black person than a white person in a certain situation because that person is more like me. And lady celeste, I'm sorry if my previous comment made me sound sort of prejudiced. I assure you, that's the last thing I am.

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Newnan, actually your post did not make me feel that. You have every right to express your opinion...as long as it's not hurting or negative towards any group of people. I really asked this question because I hear people say that alot and it made me wonder what people mean by that. I could give my own opinion but I will wait to see what people mean by that because what "I want to be around people like me" means something to me and I will be honest and say that I even feel this way. I'm just curious as to what other people mean by it.

Thanks Brad for your answer.

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