"Paving decisions" in Atlanta

The top image is taken from a 1919 aerial map of Atlanta, at the intersection of Trinity Avenue and Forsyth Street. It’s typical of the compact land use of pre-automobile cities. The bottom photo shows what we have in that spot today.

I shaded in blue what is pretty much the only set of structures left intact after the surroundings were obliterated by the desire to build parking lots. 

How did this happen? The answer comes via a quote posted by citymaus :

In their headlong search for modernity through mobility, American urbanites made a decision to destroy the living environments of nineteenth-century neighborhoods by converting their gathering places into traffic jams, their playgrounds into motorways, and their shopping places into elongated parking lots. These paving decisions effectively made obsolete many of urban America’s older neighborhoods.

What isn’t answered in the quote is this question: why does this urban decay linger? What is preventing us from turning this transit-connected space (that’s a MARTA station on the lower right) with gridded streets into something more valuable, efficient, and uplifting for the city? 

Downtown residents have been wondering for many years, but there are no simple answers and very little initiative seems to exist in city government to find a solution. This, despite the millions of dollars that were spent to build the rail station and the great potential for revenue from transit-connected development.

Quote source: “Transforming the Use of Urban Space – Look at the Revolution in Street Pavements, 1880-1924” Journal of Urban History, 5(3)

EDIT: only after the post has been reblogged almost 100 times do I notice a typo. I originally had the map pegged as 1909. I’ve corrected it to 1919 above. Here’s the source. h/t kvnryn via reddit