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Atlanta’s concentration of historic properties abysmally low compared to rest of country

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Less than 2 percent of all buildings in the city date from more than a century ago, while similar cities average at least 15 percent

Atlanta of yore.
A view of downtown Atlanta in 1905 during the construction of the Candler Building. Few buildings from the era remain.
© Atlanta Journal-Constitution via GSU

Atlanta has a bad reputation for historic preservation and reuse of older buildings within the city, and while things are changing, a new study indicates it may be too little, too late.

According to a newly released initiative—The Atlas of ReUrbanism—by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Atlanta lags behind pretty much every large city in the United States when it comes to surviving historic building stock.

Compared to the national average, Atlanta has a shockingly small amount of historic fabric. According to the calculations, less than 2 percent of Atlanta’s buildings were constructed before 1920; the national average for the country’s 50 largest cities is more than 15 percent.

However, where we make up for it is construction within the last 50 years, with nearly half of all buildings in the city dating from that time period, for better or worse. The national average is around 35 percent.

The concentration of older development is clustered in areas like downtown and the eastern neighborhoods of the city — hardly a surprise — while Buckhead and the western edges of the city are newer.

It’s important to note that overall Atlanta is a much newer city than many others studied. Little survives from before the 1920s simply because not much of the city beyond the core was developed before that time.

Still, the numbers tell a pretty bleak story for older buildings in Atlanta.

Now, if only we can hang on to the 2 percent we have left.