An Atlanta Neighborhood's Vanished Street Grid

Atlanta's Vine City neighborhood was destroyed in the name of urban renewal. Image: PEDSAtlanta
Atlanta’s Vine City neighborhood was destroyed in the name of urban renewal. Image: @PEDSAtlanta

Ever heard of Atlanta’s Vine City? No? That could be because it was largely obliterated by urban renewal two generations ago.

These side-by-side images shared today by Darin at ATL Urbanist show the street grid in Vine City, near downtown Atlanta, in 1911 and today. And Darin says the city is poised to expand this hole in the city’s fabric:

I found this image on the PEDS Twitter feed: look at the wonderful street grid we lost when the enormous state-owned Georgia World Congress Center/Georgia Dome complex was built on land connecting Vine City to Downtown.

The footprint of this property is actually being expanded with construction the new Falcons stadium, demolishing two community churches along the way.

This GWCC complex is a remnant of 1960s-70s “urban renewal” developments that aimed to revitalize city centers, like Downtown Atlanta, that were suffering from suburban flight.

Far from a success. the urban-renewal movement was a failure when it comes to good placemaking. It has left us with disconnected neighborhoods that are surrounded by megablocks and wide roads built for maximum car capacity.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland shares a cool video showing off temporary pedestrian spaces Portland recently created as part of a “Better Block” event. Greater Greater Washington examines migration within the DC area for different demographic groups. And Bikemore reflects on the death of a local cyclist, killed on a cross-country charity ride.

  • Amy

    Someone send this to the planners in Sacramento, lead by mayor/NBA veteran Kevin Johnson, who are building a downtown basketball arena despite the objections of voters and taxpayers.

  • AlexWithAK

    Meanwhile, USA Today just released a list of the top 10 most walkable cities in the US. Number 10: Atlanta! Yeah, I don’t get it either.

  • BBnet3000

    A downtown arena can be ok if it fits on the grid and isnt surrounded by a sea of parking. They might be able to pull this off in Sacramento, but you are right to be worried.

    The best thing about Sacramento is its fine grid, and places where its been broken (Downtown Plaza, the convention center, CalPers) have really harmed that. The way K street has turned out shouldnt really surprise anybody considering that its blocked below 7th and above 13th.

    (the Capitol also breaks the grid but id argue that this is not a bad thing, especially for pedestrians who can still pass through much of the grounds).

  • JKR

    Bad ideas about urban planning come from Atlanta.

  • rao

    Don’t forget that Atlanta’s urban renewal was also racially tinged, an effort to wall off downtown from black neighborhoods.

  • C Monroe

    My city did something very similar, but people rallied and was able to stop it after only about 1/3 of the downtown was destroyed. http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/05/urban_renewal_main.html

  • Eric Allen

    USA Today is the high fructose corn syrup of quality journalism. That’s why.

  • R.A. Stewart

    I may steal that metaphor. Sadly, it applies to much of what passes for journalism in the U.S. now, not just USA Today.

  • EDG

    Design comment?

  • EDG

    Didn’t talk about how this area is now gentrifying

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