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New map of every building in Atlanta is truly fascinating

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Interactive New York Times compendium illustrates development patterns—sensical and not—of the Big Peach

The relative density of downtown Atlanta stands out—as do the massive warehouses, at left, of Fulton Industrial Boulevard.
The relative density of downtown Atlanta stands out—as do the massive warehouses, at left, of Fulton Industrial Boulevard.
New York Times

Office-dwelling urbanists of Atlanta have the New York Times to thank for a supreme productivity killer unveiled today.

In an effort to chronicle the built legacy of the entire United States, the newspaper has compiled maps—customizable by zip code—that show (almost) every building in the country, as represented by black blocks and specs against a white canvas.

Locally, the maps illustrate the relative immensity of metro Atlanta—and the development patterns of specific neighborhoods that range from sensical grids to bowls of spaghetti.

The squirrelly intown streets of Ansley Park and Morningside.
New York Times

The maps are made possible by a massive database, compiled by Microsoft engineers, that was released earlier this year to the public.

Notes the Times in an explainer: “Such information has been available before in some places, but this is the first comprehensive database covering the entire United States.”

Where Atlanta’s northeastern sprawls ends—for now—allowing for a gap of rural land between Lawrenceville and Athens.
New York Times

Particularly fascinating is the illustrated way that geography—ridges, deserts, mountains—has influenced America’s human settlements over the centuries. Atlanta clearly has few growth restrictions.

Suddenly, it makes more sense why driving interstates from the top of metro Atlanta to the bottom—without traffic—takes an hour and a half.

The great smear of Atlanta’s built environment, as seen from a national perspective.
New York Times