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About the Planning Atlanta Collection

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About the Planning Atlanta Collection

Planning Atlanta: A New City in the Making, 1930s – 1990s is a digital collection of material related to city planning and urban development in Atlanta. The collection consists of city planning maps, city planning publications, demographic data, photographs depicting planning activities, oral histories, and aerial photographs. Much of the Planning Atlanta material was created by the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Additionally, items from other agencies and entities, such as the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), are included. 

Planning Atlanta is a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded project and seeks to move beyond the traditional digital library model of simply providing digital equivalents of tangible objects. This city planning focused collection provides free and open access to digitally transformed, dynamic, and engaging content with the goal of enhancing this material for educational and research uses. Many items in the collection have been transformed into digital objects that can be engaged with and manipulated. Below are several examples of the educational and research value of the collection:

  • Each of the over 2,000 maps (including many maps from within the planning publications) have been georeferenced and can be viewed and interacted with in Google Maps and Google Earth. Changing the transparency of the maps reveals the significant urban change that metropolitan Atlanta has experienced over the past 80 years.
  • The collection of 124 aerial photos of Atlanta from 1949 have been georeferenced and stitched together as one unified overlay, which can also be viewed and interacted with in Google Maps and Google Earth. This mosaic overlay serves as a detailed record of Atlanta at its most densely populated point in time. It also provides a portrait of the city as a compact urban environment in which the central business district is the clear economic nucleus and where the urban fringes only hint toward the suburbanization that would later turn Atlanta's urban form inside out.
  • Each printed volume of ARC’s Population and Housing, an annual collection of metropolitan-wide demographic data has been extracted and the data is available for download in CSV and Excel formats. With access to this unprecedented dataset, researchers can analyze and visualize demographic and housing change for nearly each year from 1955 to 2003 down to the census tract level.
  • Many of the photographs in the Planning Atlanta collection from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also include the newspaper article associated with the photograph. Coupling a high resolution photograph with the newspaper article in which the photo originally appeared provides significant contextual information for the collection as a whole.
  • Much of the Planning Atlanta material depicts city planning activities in Atlanta from an official governmental perspective. Therefore, to give voice to ordinary people who were affected by planning, oral histories were collected from neighborhood residents. These oral histories, which can be listened to online, provide a more balanced perspective on topics such as urban renewal.

Planning Atlanta: A New City in the Making, 1930s – 1990s can provide new insights into Atlanta, which, like all cities, is in constant change. The University Library is interested in learning how this collection is being used. Please contact a project leader to let us know how you have used this collection or how it has contributed to your understanding of the Atlanta region.

Project Personnel

Joe Hurley (PI)
Kathryn Michaelis (Co-PI)
Kate Wilson (Co-PI)

Jeremy Bright
Olivia Carlisle
Bill Hardesty
Chad Nelson
Kelly Pepper
Barbara Petersohn
Eric Willoughby

Graduate Students
Alex Crocker
Caroline Davis
Emily Furtsch
Subha Pradhan
Ambre Reed
Amber Rose
Dillon Shaffer
Christie Thiem
John Williams

Undergraduate Students
Chris Mason
Juri Sato
Kelsey Vayens

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