Social Geography Of Atlanta Essay

2577 words - 10 pages

The index numbers that describe Atlanta are unusual in many respects, and indicate that the city is made up of extremes. Even the most casual observer who knew nothing about Atlanta would notice theses extremes and conclude that the city must have a number of serious problems. In fact, Atlanta is plagued with problems of racism and inequality. One reason for these problems is that Atlanta "developed as an 'accidental city' with what can generously be described as a laissez-faire approach to planning" (Rutheiser 139). The index figures point to several amazing contradictions such as the fact that there are 325 times the number of people in the city who live below the poverty line as people in the suburbs. Twice as many people in the city exist on $25,000 or less annually, yet more people in the city earn $200,000 or more per year than do people in the suburbs. The figures reveal that Atlanta is a city of extremes, but they do not reveal who the poor and rich actually are. The figures are limited because they only indicate the differences between city and suburbs. Certain groups are concentrated in the city and live in real poverty. The index showing that 54 percent of Atlanta is white is not very informative. The problem is that whites have not only money but power, and they determine and control all socioeconomic conditions in Atlanta.Atlanta consists of a city and a number of suburbs. Growth and development have proved to follow very uneven patterns, with the northern part of the metropolitan area demonstrating the only real growth. The population of the suburbs is ten times that of the city. The index figures do not give information about why this difference exists, or how long a period of growth was needed for the suburbs. Conditions in the city would seem to have driven people away since there is so much poverty. The city also has problems such as "traffic congestion, air quality problem, declining urban infrastructure, and growing social and economic disparities between the haves and the have-nots" (Bullard, Johnson & Torres 16). Average housing in the city is worth about half what it is in the suburbs.More than twice the number of people in the suburbs have two or more vehicles, but there are 420 times less vehicles available in the city. This is an odd fact since there are "two automobile plants in the region" (Keating 13). Poor blacks in the city who do not have cars cannot get to jobs in the suburbs because public transportation does not go into the suburbs. The reason for the difference between the population of the city and that of the suburbs cannot be unemployment since basically the same numbers of people are employed in both the city (70%) and the suburbs (73%). One explanation is that once the white population moved northward, "the central business district's position in the regional office market has declined" (Keating 8). Lack of regulation over business, housing, prosperity and job opportunities all played a part in the...

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