An Interactive History of Racialized Urban Development in Atlanta

Our project is an ambitious digital research initiative that archives and presents the discriminatory experiences people of color had to live with at their places, including where current Georgia Tech students reside and study. 

With the digitization of redlining maps (, its research body has increasingly grown in the past few years. Most studies have taken the approach that examines how the poorly graded neighborhoods still face various hurdles in contemporary community development for such metrics as access to credits, healthy food markets, and public health. However, with only a few exceptions, no research has studied the “lived” experience of the African American residents in the affected communities. Our project will restore the forgotten history of these residents’ collective efforts in a storytelling way by examining the local context of community development.

The history of our local communities exists in various archives. But it remains forgotten to a broader audience unless it is re-archived digitally and distributed and educated through digital media. This project will be the first initiative and database of its kind, documenting our local communities’ lived experiences.

Specifically, beginning from Summer 2022, our expected deliverables by the end of Spring 2022 are:

  • Digital contents will be spread over two main sections, one covering the broad history of the Atlanta metropolitan area and the other specific to neighborhoods, both organized chronologically.
  • City-wide maps, including the initial 1938 Redlining Map, its successors, and overlays of interstate or urban renewal projects, will provide visual context. At this broader view, spatial comparisons will be made from maps that show access to healthy food, schools, healthcare, transportation, and safety from environmental hazards. This information will be displayed in a timeline format; singular events and policies will be displayed in a standard timeline format. For spatial data, there will be an option to display it next to similar data from a different time period.
  • Sections covering specific neighborhoods in the form of an interactive map will take a more personal character. Prominent community centers, people, and businesses within each will be showcased, using a combination of historical photos, records, and quotes when they can be found. These sections will also take a closer look at how city-wide policies impacted individual communities, especially policies that had a visible impact, such as the destruction of black-owned homes and businesses by interstate projects. For these events, the narrative will capture “local voices” of residents at that time.
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Brian An
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