Imagineering Atlanta: Making Place in the Non-Place Urban Realm

Charles Rutheiser, Author
Charles Rutheiser, Author Verso $19 (0p) ISBN 978-1-85984-145-7
Hardcover - 324 pages - 978-1-85984-800-5
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Recalling one meeting of Atlanta civic and business leaders, Rutheiser recounts that many ""had recently returned from their month-long stay in Barcelona--where they had been honored guests at the Olympic Games--with the mildly horrifying awareness of Atlanta's lack of `traditional urbanity.'"" Which, as anyone who has spent any time there, would recognize both in the lack a vital urban center, and in the presence of a decidedly provincial boosterism. There is little boosterism in this excellent, accessible, well-researched and highly critical study of the history of Atlanta's image and its reality. Starting from the hype (Atlanta as ""the gateway to the South""; the ""New York of the South""; ""the city too busy to hate""; ""Black Mecca""; ""the world's next great international city""), anthropologist Rutheiser provides a clear step-by-step understanding of how politics, economics and a ""racialized topography"" developed Atlanta's outlying (read white) areas at the expense of its inner (read black) core. He also discusses this summer's Olympics, which many Atlantans recognize as a chance, perhaps the last chance, to fill in the hole in its center. At the time this book went to print, the prognosis didn't look promising. It seemed unlikely that the building would substantially benefit the city's core, likely that Atlanta taxpayers will be picking up at least part of the tab and, more insidiously, that the sometimes uneasy compromise of black political leadership and local biracial business leadership that has been evolving since the early 1970s, may be overshadowed by increasingly powerful national or multinational corporations. (June)
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