A History of Urban Renewal in Atlanta explores how urban renewal projects changed the urban fabric of Atlanta during the last half of the twentieth century. Urban renewal is a form of redevelopment used to address decay within urban areas. In 1950 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the first major city in the U.S. to implement an urban renewal program through the demolition and redevelopment of large blighted downtown areas. Pittsburgh’s successful experiment in urban renewal resulted in federal legislation that funded similar efforts on a nationwide scale. In Atlanta and elsewhere, suburbanization and the rise of the automobile encouraged the construction of interstate highways that demolished many downtown neighborhoods. Throughout the 1960s, urban renewal projects became inextricably connected with the civil rights movement and geographies of segregation. Though urban renewal projects ceased during the 1970s, private redevelopment efforts came to share many of their hallmarks, including their negative effects. This exhibition encourages readers to take a critical view of urban renewal and its effects on Atlanta, particularly on low-income and historically Black neighborhoods.

Exhibit by Brendan Harris. Fact checking by John Prechtel.