A Reprehensible and Unfriendly Act: Homeowners, Renters, and the Bid for Residential Segregation in Atlanta, 1900-1917


History and Philosophy

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In Atlanta, racial segregation ordinances were precursors to comprehensive land-use zoning and planning, and the city’s first comprehensive land use plan incorporated both racial and class designations. A close examination of rental housing investment patterns reveals that Atlanta’s rental housing boom combined with the continued spread of City Beautiful and J. C. Nichols–propagated innovations to encourage homeowners to “protect their investments,” introducing a fear of the spatial proximity of renters—African Americans in particular—and housing incongruity. In Atlanta, then, the residential segregation debate was influenced not just by the racial predilections of the white majority but by issues of class and property ownership as well, particularly as these issues played out within an aesthetic culture that continued City Beautiful’s celebration of large, ordered spaces.