BEA Outline

Thesis:  The residential distribution in Atlanta is extremely divided. One may not be able to tell at first glance, but in the analysis, I will explain how gentrification and job opportunities have affected black culture and create a more divided built environments within Atlanta today.

1st claim: Atlanta gentrification rate is one of the highest in the country

2nd claim: Inman Park is used as the first example to explain how gentrification has affected a specific neighborhood in Atlanta.

3rd claim: The negative effects of gentrification: occupational opportunities.

Conclusion: Summarize and reiterate how gentrification has positively and negatively affected the built environment of Atlanta.

Overall, I will present my presentation in a powerpoint and incorporate interesting videos and facts to help support my evidence. I definitely think that I will have to do some additional research. I will focus my presentation on the effects gentrification has on the occupation opportunities of it residents and how those factors affect the quality of life for residents in those areas.

Atlanta’s Present Day Segregation

How Race Has Affected Residential Development

According to United States Census Bureau, Georgia has a population of over 9 million people, and of that population, 30 percent (over two million people) are black/ African American. The city of Atlanta has a population of about 463,878 people, and of that 54 percent are black/ African American. Atlanta, Georgia is a city very wealthy and full of history. It gave birth to the most famous Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Georgia was the heart of slavery and the slave trade, but Atlanta was also the hub for the Civil Rights Movement throughout the south. Although it is now 2017, a time where the United States has had its first black president; black people can now hold any political office. It is also a time where black urban culture has a tremendous influence on society. The city of Atlanta has grown tremendously since the 1960’s from a time of Jim Crow laws and lynching. But is Atlanta integrated? The residential distribution in Atlanta is extremely divided. One may not be able to tell at first glance, but in the analysis, I will explain how gentrification and job opportunities have affected black culture and created a more divided built environment within Atlanta today.


Atlanta and Gentrification

Gentrification is defined as the purchase and remodeling of homes in low-income urban neighborhoods to develop new communities with higher income residents (Williams). In total, gentrification is a way a city can gain revenue by raising property taxes and attract new businesses. There are many pros and cons to gentrification. Some claim that it is very beneficial; that it allows for renovated houses and buildings, an influx of new businesses, increased property value, and secure communities. Others would oppose those ideas and say that gentrification causes homelessness/displacement, higher property taxes, it decreases cultural diversity as well as small businesses within the area. In recent years Atlanta has quickly become one the leading cities in the country for its high gentrification rates. The city’s transformation began in the 1990’s with Downtown, East Lake, and the Old Fourth Ward. Today it is places like the West End, Edgewood, and Kirkwood that are rapidly changing and displacing its residents (Williams). One of the major problems that gentrification brings is that it raises the cost of living within the area, so the current residents can no longer afford to reside there. The area begins to change when new businesses start to come in. Franchise businesses take over small businesses and then new homes and apartments are built. When the demographic of residents change so does living expenses. Finally, property taxes increase and then the government and investors recycle the money in other areas and start the process over again.  When this happens, people are forced to relocate to places that are more affordable. Typically those people are the elderly, minorities like blacks and Hispanics, and individuals with fixed incomes.

Atlanta Gentrification, 1990-2000
Atlanta Gentrification, 2000-present

There are many factors that make a neighborhood a perfect candidate for gentrification. For example the Edgewood area, it is close to downtown, it has plenty of historic buildings and monuments, and its population is aging, so there is there is an increased market for buyers. Plans for new developments have already begun, MARTA is partnering with a private investor Columbia Ventures LLC. The project is estimated to cost about 40 million dollars to design and build the Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA station. The developments will have apartments, restaurants, entertainment like a dance hall that can also be used for educational purposes (Shamma). Complications of gentrification emerge because East Atlanta is an area filled with predominantly black people. They are being forced to move away, while white people are replacing them. White people drive gentrification; this is a fact proven true because the areas that have been gentrified have populations of white people that have double compared to previous years. Kirkwood is one area that has experienced this dramatic change. The population of white residents went from one percent to 14 percent between 1990 and 2000. Kirkwood had not seen a shift this drastic since the 1960’s, and 1970’s when it went from being mostly white to mostly black (Blau). One can image that this would create some hostility among the two communities and explains why Atlanta is so divided today.

The map created by Dustin Cable to represent the ethnic distributions in Atlanta

A map was created by Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia. He used information from the 2010 Census to make a map color coded by dots that represents a single person by their race to show the distribution of races across different cities. Blue dots represent white people, African-Americans are shown with green dots, Asians are shown with red dots, Latinos are orange dots, and all other races are shown with brown dots. It is the first map to show both the country’s ethnic distribution and every single citizen at the same time (VanHemert). The maps allow you to see and make comparisons about racial distribution among the various cities. In the map of Atlanta, there is a clear division of whites and blacks. Although by law we are not segregated, when one takes a look at the map there is still racial division, especially in the south. Atlanta is not the only city experiencing segregation.

This is a photo of Birmingham, Alabama the map indicates clear division among the races

Gentrification and Inman Park

Inman Park is one of Atlanta’s first planned neighborhoods. The suburb was named by Joel Hurt after Samuel Inman his friend and business partner. Joel Hurt was a real-estate developer and civil engineer who created the Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railway Company (Bazemore). The company then designed Edgewood Avenue as a way to connect the communities residents to downtown. This later gave way to the Atlantans first electric streetcar. Inman Park originally started off with wealthy inhabitants; the suburb was used as a way for rural Atlantans to escape the city without having to go far and was made even more accessible by the streetcar.  Inman Park began to decline when other suburbs began to develop further from the city. Also, in 1910 the first apartment buildings were built. (Bazemore) Apartment occupancy increased and as a result, the homeowner occupancy dropped. As people migrated away from the city, out of homes and into apartments, Inman Park became filled with lower income people. It was plagued with poverty, crime, and insensitivity. Like poverty was not enough “automobile ownership rose through the years, Atlantans began migrating to even more distant suburbs, and Inman Park continued to decay gradually” (Bazemore). This change would last until 1969.

A contemporary home in Inman Park
A traditional home in Inman Park

In that year an Atlanta designer Griggs made a plan to restore the old homes in the neighborhood. With the help of pioneers, the Inman Park Restoration Incorporated (IPR) was created (Bazemore). This corporation is what reestablished Inman Park as a historic place. The organization bought and refurbished old houses to resemble grand Victorian structures and sell them for twice as much as they are worth. Today that has become what Inman Park is known for. It’s vibrant colored houses, and detailed architecture gives Inman Park a flavor like no other. This can also be looked at as a positive side to gentrification. Despite its negative side effects, gentrification can also develop great neighborhoods with funded school systems, low crime rates, and job opportunities.

Occupational Segregation

Unfortunately for most people, gentrification is seen negatively. One reason is the lack of opportunity. When people are displaced due to gentrification, they lose access to the resources they once had. Black people have felt the effects of these changes the most. An article on racism and segregation by Chiquita A. Collins and David R. Williams discusses the specific ideas that have shaped the culture today. Collins and Williams state that residential racism is driven by the belief of black inferiority. The article states that whites believe blacks promote violence, are not hard working or intelligent, and are not self-supporting (Collins). These stereotypes have been used as the basis for separation and continue to create a trickle effect. Especially in the south, the city of Atlanta presents a great example of present day residential segregation. Although the population of Atlanta is 50% black, there is not much integration when it comes to residences or job opportunity.  In the school systems, “compared to whites, blacks have higher rates of high school dropout; those who do complete high school are exposed to a less demanding curriculum, lower teacher expectations, and have lower levels of skills and knowledge compared to their white peers (Collins). And without an education, these people have restricted access to good paying jobs which results in limited income. These constraints are largely due to location and displacement. Blacks have been displaced from the suburbs to the city, and back again, with limited transportation and generational immaturity, it is no wonder why incarceration rates are so high.


Researchers at Clark Atlanta Unversity explain how the black population of Atlanta is changing. The article states that Atlanta is known as the “Black Mecca” and is rated one of the best cities for African Americans. It is one of the top 3 cities for black travelers. It has the most HBCUs, and it is also the fastest growing millionaire population in the U.S. (Bullard). The article does mention the poverty rate and states it is in the top 3 of 101 cities with most of its people below the 50% poverty level (Bullard). This is why it is referred to as a Paradox.

Researchers state that Atlanta has a wide black-white unemployment gap. Where a person lives is an indicator for high or low environmental health risks. Location dictates access to healthcare and residential amenities like grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Wealthier areas have access to three times as many grocery stores, and low-income people pay 10-40 cents more for food than higher income residents (Bullard). Overall, Atlanta is growing into a great city. It’s growth and expansion has been taken negatively among a lot of people because it has caused gentrification and reconstruction, but unfortunately, this is something that happens to cities all across the country and is an essential factor for any city’s advancement. With time, Atlanta will be added to the list of major cities like New York, Chicago, and LA but maybe with some effort, this change won’t mean displacement and pricey living. One way this can be done is through community awareness, people within the community should be well informed by the city of the plans for redevelopment. The government should also protect the elderly and long-time residents to help keep communities balanced. There is a saying that, “too much of a good thing can be bad for you” and the same rules apply here. There are many gains from the growth and development that gentrification brings but when it causes segregation and unfair opportunities then it has defeated its purpose and those outcomes are reflected within the built environment.


Works Cited

Blau, Max “Can Anyone Stop Atlanta’s Rapid Gentrification?” Creative Loafing Atlanta. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.

Bullard, Robert D., and Johnson, Glenn S., and Torres, Angel O. “{Complete Report} The State of Black Atlanta 2010.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

Bazemore, Ted. “Inman Park.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 13 May 2016. Web. 10 April 2017.

Collins, Chiquita A., and David R. Williams. “Segregation and Mortality: The Deadly Effects of Racism?” Sociological Forum 14.3 (1999): 495–523. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

“Population Estimates, July 1, 2015, (V2015).” N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.

Shamma, Tasnim. “MARTA Breaks Ground On First Transit-Development Project.” N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.

Williams Reid, Lesley, and Robert M. Adelman. “The Double-edged Sword of Gentrification in Atlanta.” The Double-edged Sword of Gentrification in Atlanta. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar.    2017.

VanHemert, Kyle “The Best Map Ever Made of America’s Racial Segregation.” WIRED. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.