City on the Verge by Mark Pendergrast is a deeply researched effort to capture the history of Atlanta and its neighborhoods, from the still elite area where the author spent his childhood to bustling zones of gentrification and immovable pockets of desperation.
The book examines Atlanta’s, and America’s, urban future, focusing on issues such as income inequality, long commutes, public transportation woes, sprawl, disparate neighborhoods, and racial injustice.
The author combines the story of how the BeltLine project has progressed with a historical discussion of the issues underlying the need for the project.
He situates City on the Verge within the larger context of urban America’s future, making it a must-read for urban-planning junkies, community builders, and anyone who cares about our future.
What I Liked
Ok – I live in the City of Atlanta, just blocks from the Southside section of the BeltLine next to a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and a rapidly changing school cluster. I was fascinating to read a book basically about immediate changes that I am living through and participating in. Even though it’s difficult, I am hopeful that Atlanta can pull off a change to become a more sustainable, livable city that is still inclusive and affordable.
I have a bet with a friend in Boston about whether Boston can become affordable faster than Atlanta can become sustainable & livable. I’m betting on Atlanta.
What I Did Not Like
It’s a pretty niche book and even though the author tried to make Atlanta a microcosm for America – it’s still mostly a book about Atlanta.