From "crackertown" to the "ATL"
Holliman, Irene Valerie
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation considers the many ways in which successive waves of postwar urban renewal transformed the city of Atlanta. I contend that each renewal effort was inherently flawed because each attracted opposing interest groups with conflicting visions of how the city of Atlanta should be repaired and what the city of Atlanta, when “fixed,” should look like. Atlanta city planners, elected officials, businessmen, along with housing and Civil Rights advocates sought out federal Urban Renewal funding shortly after the end of the Second World War as a means of eliminating dilapidated housing and stabilizing downtown property values. In the 1960s, as federal renewal funding shifted away from programs that razed and re-built the physical environment towards more comprehensive welfare programs, Atlanta’s governing power coalition of white elites and black middle class resisted incorporating federal antipoverty measures that mandated citizen participation of the poor. The city’s first black elected officials, many of whom had cut their political teeth in Civil Rights Movement protests, came to power just as early urban renewal failures and the end of segregation de jure convinced the city’s affluent tax base (both white and black) to relocate in the suburbs. Beginning in the mid-1970s, the city’s tenuously reconfigured power coalition, faced with a sharp decline in the availability of federal renewal funding, turned to private and quasi-privately funded downtown redevelopment plans for Atlanta. Through the construction of the Peachtree Center, the Omni, and Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta’s black city leaders increasingly conceived of downtown Atlanta as a place to serve tourists and conventioneers, a marked shift away from the grassroots-organized, community-led ethos that had brought many of Atlanta’s new politicians into office. Finally, Atlanta’s participation in the federally sponsored Empowerment Zone revitalization program in the 1990s suggests the extent to which Atlanta city officials and city boosters sought to revitalize the physical space of downtown Atlanta without, once more, fully appreciating how that redevelopment could (and did) negatively affect the city’s poorer African American residents living in and near downtown.