Planning Atlanta

By Harley Etienne, Barbara Faga

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Originally published in 2014 — e-book version released in 2015

Some cities avoid change. Others accept it. Atlanta pursues it.

More than any other major U.S. city, Atlanta regularly reinvents itself. From the Civil War's devastation to the 1996 Olympic boom to the current housing crisis, the city's history is a cycle of rise and fall, ruin and resurgence.

In Planning Atlanta, two dozen planning practitioners and thought leaders bring the story to life. Together they trace the development of projects like Freedom Parkway and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. They examine the impacts of race relations on planning and policy. They explore Atlanta's role as a 19th-century rail hub — and as the home of the world's busiest airport. They probe the city's economic and environmental growing pains. And they look toward new plans that will shape Atlanta's next incarnation.

Read Planning Atlanta and discover a city where change is always in the wind.

Planning Atlanta continues the APA Planners Press series on how planning shapes major American cities. The series began in 2012 with Planning Los Angeles and continued in 2013 with Planning Chicago and Planning the Pacific Northwest in 2015.


Introduction (pdf) 

About the Editors

Harley F. Etienne is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the intersection of social institutions and their relationship to processes of urban neighborhood change.

Barbara Faga is an urban designer with more than three decades of work in the private sector and for cities including Atlanta. A Fellow in American Society of Landscape Architects, she is currently completing a PhD in city and regional planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2015
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents


Harley F. Etienne and Barbara Faga


1. Learning from Atlanta
Douglas Allen

2. Changing Demographics and Unprecedented Growth
Ellen Heath, FAICP, and John Heath, AICP

3. The Historic District Development Corporation and the Challenge of Urban Revitalization
Mtamanika Youngblood

4. Practitioner Perspective | Creating Urban Reinvention: Downtown Atlanta
Paul B. Kelman, FAICP

5. Crazy Like The Fox: Atlanta's Preservation Schizophrenia
Leslie N. Sharp

6. Practitioner Perspective | Public-Private Partnerships: Atlanta Style
Joseph G. Martin Jr.

7. Building Public Transit in Atlanta: From Streetcars to MARTA
Harry L. West


8. The Genesis of Citizen Participation in Atlanta
Leon S. Eplan, FAICP

9. Freedom Park: A Modern Day Battle
Barbara Faga

10. Race and Class in Atlanta-Style Development: Promoting Inclusion and Justice
Michael Dobbins, FAICP

11. Public Housing Demolition and Neighborhood Revitalization
Thomas D. Boston

12. The Evolution of the Business Leaders Who Built Modern Atlanta
Maria Saporta

13. Neighborhood Quality of Life and Health in Atlanta
Nisha Botchwey, Susannah Lee, Audrey Leous, and Subhro Guhathakurta


14. Regional Growth, Transportation, and Congestion: The Atlanta Problem
Catherine Ross

15. From Transit as a Social Service to Transit as Congestion Relief: The Failure of Transit Planning in Atlanta
Laurel Paget-Seekins

16. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: A City of Its Own
Benjamin R. DeCosta

17. Modern Streetcars Return to Atlanta
Jennifer Ball

18. Atlanta's BeltLine: The Emerald Necklace Shaping the City's Future
Alexander Garvin


19. The Legacy of the Centennial Olympic Games
Randal Roark

20. Rethinking Atlanta's Regional Resilience in an Age of Uncertainty: Still the Economic Engine of the South?
Jennifer Clark

21. Practitioner Perspective | Economic Development: From Porsche to Tyler Perry
Elisabeth Kulinski

22. After the Crash: Foreclosures, Neighborhood Stability and Change
Michael Carnathan

23. Building Atlanta's Land Bank
Frank S. Alexander


24. Maelstrom: Contextualizing the Failed Privatization of Atlanta's Water Supply System
Eric M. Hardy

25. Practitioner Perspective | Atlantic Station: Location, Location, Location
Brian Leary

26. Planning for the Forest and the Trees: The City in a Forest
Jason Vargo

27. Practitioner Perspective | The Buckhead Community Improvement District
Jim Durrett

28. Atlanta's Role in the State of Georgia
David Pendered

Shirley Franklin







"Planning Atlanta paints a vibrant picture of a city I know very well. It looks at the stories behind the history, and shows the power of Atlanta's indomitable spirit. Whether you're a native, a newcomer, a planner or not, this book will give you a new way of seeing a vital American city and the people who have shaped it."
— Gail Evans, best-selling author and past executive vice president of CNN

"In Planning Atlanta, the authors paint an original and up-to-date portrait of this complex city, relating its history, growth, current state, and future. Filled with surprises, it's a pleasure to read."
— Eugenie L. Birch, FAICP, Professor of Urban Research and Education, University of Pennsylvania

"Atlanta's planners coalition-built and deal-made their way into the economic capital of the South. While acknowledging the challenges, Etienne and Faga's team shows how audacious ideas backed with solid planning arguments can reverse even the most entrenched opposition."
— Bruce Stiftel, FAICP, Chair, Georgia Institute of Technology School of City and Regional Planning

"Atlanta has gone through a series of stereotypes, from the 1960s city 'too busy to hate' and the pre-Olympics 'next great international city' to the region's current image as a 'poster child for sprawl.' This book helps dismantle those oversimplifications with essays by people who truly know Atlanta and its planning history. I highly recommend it."
— Fernando Costa, FAICP, Assistant City Manager, City of Fort Worth; Director of Planning, City of Atlanta, 1987–1998