Larry Keating's book Atlanta: Race, Class, and Urban Expansion (Comparative American Cities) is one of a handful of books which belong on the shelf of anyone trying to make sense of the evolution of Atlanta since World War II. Keating was an Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, and has been one of the most vocal and articulate critics of the business dominated coalition which set the approach for Atlanta's shape over the past few decades.
Keating describes the coalition between the downtown white business elite and the rising middle class African-American political leadership, and the effects that the priorities of that coalition had on the current shape of Atlanta.
I believe the most valuable part of Keating's work is his narrative which covers both the high profile projects which were implemented by the coalition in an attempt to maintain the economic dominance of downtown in the decades following the Second World War, and lesser known policies such as the changes in
the city ordinance to ban back alley dwellings which had the effect of removing black residents from primarily white northside neighborhoods.
In terms of the big projects he covers the the construction of the expressway system, the urban renewal era, the building of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the Civic Center, the World Congress Center, Underground Atlanta, the destruction and redevelopment of Techwood/Clark Howell Homes and the Olympics and its associated redevelopment components.
He covers these projects from the point of view of a person critical of the effects of these projects on the poor, mostly African-American population immediately adjacent to downtown.
In addition he describes more gradual and low profile events, such as the removal of small black settlements from the more heavily white northside neighborhoods. These include the expansions of Candler Park and what later became Frankie Allen Park in Buckhead.
I am personally much more sympathetic than Dr. Keating with many of the projects of which he offers criticism, particularly as they relate to attempts to attract middle and upper class residents to the city's center. But his book offers insights into the resistance of a number of neighborhoods to these projects,
and gives informative outlines of the various groups who sought to affect the outcome of the projects.
I found his descriptions of why the MARTA routes and expressway paths are in their current form particularly interesting.
On balance, if you want a book which will fill in many of the gaps in the more official histories of the development of facilities and institutions near downtown Atlanta, Atlanta: Race, Class, and Urban Expansion (Comparative American Cities) is a very good resource.