Atlanta MAPPING | The Plan
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After exploring Rome, the “Eternal City” - for some still caput mundi on account of its centuries-old history - TheCityPlan now goes to Atlanta, a typical American city founded and rapidly developed from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. As usual, we examine our subject by means of five GIS maps that give five different snapshots of the city. Readily available on the Internet, GIS data provide an up-to-date picture of a city’s urban development. As usual too, the first map to look at is population distribution. As the area’s morphological structure and urban infrastructure are also shown, this map is key to understanding - by comparison - the information given in the other four, which detail natural contours, service provision density, public transport and natural vegetation, respectively. This first map gives us an immediate picture of the city, its special characteristics, merits or flaws. What stands out right away in the case of Atlanta is its extensive development - or put more frankly - sprawl. Over the years, the city seems to have spread out horizontally, a fact that is all the more striking given the fact that the urban population is around 450,000 and the whole metropolitan area - extending for more than 21,000 km2 - is home to about 5 million, an extraordinarily large area for such a small population compared with most of the world’s major cities we have examined. The virtually continuous residential swathe (shown in pink/yellow) is relieved only by a few areas of lower residential density (in blue) corresponding to the large business districts. The most important of these is Downtown with its famous skyscrapers at the crossroads of three Interstate highways located at the center of the map: the I-75 and the I-85, which converge onto the single axis called the Downtown Connector, and the I-20 running east/west. Midtown and Buckhead are the two other, prevalently business high-rise districts. Examining this interstate...

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