1871 Atlanta Wards, by Wikimedia user Jolomo

Welcome to Atlanta Studies

Atlanta is an easy city to hate.

It is one of the most segregated cities in America. The metro area has some of the whitest, wealthiest zip codes in the country. And it has some of the poorest children. Social mobility is so low that according to a recent study conducted by Harvard economists, children born in a poor household in Atlanta have just a 4% chance of joining the top quarter of income earners as adults. Atlanta has some of the least affordable housing for the working poor, and it no longer has any public housing. It was the site of some of the worst abuses in subprime lending and for years had some of the highest foreclosure rates. Atlanta Public Schools suffered a cheating scandal of epic proportions. Atlanta has traffic problems that range from gridlock on its three major interstates to potholes on its underutilized downtown surface streets. And it seems to lack the political will to do much about affordable housing, education, or transportation. It has a fractured arts scene, with the opera and ballet having fled to the suburbs while the symphony and art museum anchor midtown. Sports teams, too, seem to divide the city—or represent its divisions—with the Hawks (for sale) and Falcons focused on downtown and the Braves heading out to (whiter) Cobb County.

In spite of these dynamics, Atlanta is also easy to love. The city has witnessed tremendous change in recent years with a focus on “people-scaled” urban development projects, such as the transformation of the closed down Atlantic Steel mill into the retail and entertainment district of Atlantic Station. The Beltline, once a Georgia Tech Master’s thesis, is fast becoming a reality, adding park space, opening up extensive corridors for pedestrians, and connecting neighborhoods to each other. The airport has expanded and hosts more passengers than any other airport in the world. The metro area is more ethnically diverse now than it has ever been. The streetcar has returned to downtown. And Atlanta ranks among the top U.S. cities in its number of college graduates. Enrollments at most of Atlanta’s universities are increasing, and graduation rates are unprecedented at places like Georgia State University, which is soon to be the state’s largest university when it merges with Georgia Perimeter College by 2016. There are many reasons to be optimistic and to celebrate Atlanta, and there are even more reasons to scrutinize how our lovable city is so rife with social and spatial inequalities.

And so we introduce to you Atlanta Studies, an open access publication featuring contributions from scholars, artists, and residents who not only share new ways of considering the causes and consequences of Atlanta’s past and present inequalities but also give us even more reasons to love “the city too busy to hate.”

1871 Atlanta Wards, by Wikimedia user Jolomo
Map of 1871 Atlanta Wards by Wikimedia user Jolomo.

Have an idea to share? An event to promote? Or even an axe to grind? We’d love to hear from you. Here at Atlanta Studies, we’re always on the look out for new stories to tell and we welcome, nay encourage, unsolicited submissions, stray tips and wry observations. If you know of a project or publication that’s worth showing off or a story that begs telling, we hope you’ll let us know. And if you’d like to contribute your own work as a featured article or blog post, that’s better still.

Give us a shout at atlstudies@gmail.com.