Built Environments #9: The Changing Face of the Old Fourth Ward

Can you guess the Atlanta neighborhoods that were gentrifying in the 70s and 80s? It’s a little hard, right? If you’ve only been here for the past five or ten years, Atlanta doesn’t appear to have changed very much. The neighborhoods that were changing have changed. They are so thoroughly gentrified that I don’t even think that you can call it gentrification anymore. Now it just is. Alright, I’ll give you one more opportunity to make a guess while I thumb through “Gentrification, Displacement, and Neighborhood Revitalization”, my nearly 30-year-old book on gentrification, which is where I got this info.

Ready? In the 70s, the little neighborhoods that pioneered gentrification in Atlanta were Inman Park, Poncey-Highlands, and Midtown. If you’d come to be in Atlanta thirty years ago it would have looked very different. Maybe if you come back in another thirty years the whole city will be completely unrecognizable.

I’ve been talking about gentrification and the Old Fourth Ward, but the Old Fourth Ward is already well into gentrification. By the time they are building $200,000 condos your neighborhood is gentrified. It’s just a matter of what stage of the gentrification you’re in. I haven’t defined the stages, but we’re somewhere in between young professional couples with children buying homes and trustfund babies, rappers, and wealthy childless professionals buying lofts.

Even though I haven’t quite identified those stages, I can just share some information with you and perhaps you can draw your own conclusions. Charts are fun. Right? Thankfully, I did not have to spend the time gathering the data, and compiling the charts below, that number gathering was done by the brilliant and patient, William Stamp, this blog’s creator. The first chart is of census data from 1990. 16, 17,18,28,29, and 30, at the top there, are the census tracts that make up the Old Fourth Ward. In 1990 Old Fourth Ward was 70% black and 17% white.


The next charts show the census data for 2000 and then for 2010. In 2000 the Old Fourth Ward was 56% black and 35% white. In 2010 the Old Fourth Ward was 42% black and 46% white.



The Old Fourth Ward is getting a face lift. But like we all know, a good face lift shouldn’t make you unrecognizable.

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2 Responses to Built Environments #9: The Changing Face of the Old Fourth Ward

  1. Pingback: Built Environments #10: “I wish this was a…” | Will Stamp'd

  2. Ken says:

    In the Jim Crow South if the face-lift doesn’t make you unrecognizable, it didn’t do its job. Atlanta neighborhoods have been defined by not its structures but its poor and working class populations.

    All of them, save a tiny few, must leave and go find homes elsewhere. That’s facial reconstruction. Not a lift. And it has happened/is happening across Atlanta. That’s what the developers want. That makes money. And frankly, that is what the suburban white and middle class clientele wants as well.

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