The Postwar Era: Setting the Stage for Urban Renewal

Atlanta Public Housing
Atlanta slum housing
Butler Street Urban Redevelopment Area: Street Adjustments

The most significant precursor to urban renewal in Atlanta was the establishment of Techwood Homes in the 1930s, the nation’s first public housing project. Not long after, the Atlanta Housing Authority was founded in 1938 to address urban poverty in the city. During World War II (1941-45) the growth of defense industries in Atlanta led to a postwar population boom that changed the demographics of the city. In the 1940s the Black population of Atlanta surged, but segregationist policies confined Black residents to select corners of the city. At the same time, a housing shortage led to a decline in residential living conditions. Urban renewal in Atlanta was primarily driven by a desire to attract businesses downtown and to address poor living conditions and the growing need to implement comprehensive urban planning. Influenced by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms, city planners and officials began looking to the federal government for assistance in solving the issues associated with urban life.