Atlanta and the Fight for America's Urban Future

City on the Verge

City on the Verge is a must read for city-builders, urbanists, and anyone who cares about our future. Sunbelt cities like Atlanta are booming, attracting people from across the country and remaking themselves from sprawling suburban areas to more dynamic urban centers. With a journalist’s eye for detail and a writerly knack for great story-telling, Mark Pendergrast takes us inside the forces and actors that are transforming Atlanta and the urban world we live in.”

– Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, The New Urban Crisis, and other books

Praise for City on the Verge

Other than Atlantans interested in their roots, current socioeconomic challenges and future growth, as well as planners, sociologists, community developers and the like, who should read City on the Verge? The answer is anybody who recognizes the imperative of building more sustainable cities and who would appreciate an engaging urban history explaining how the BeltLine project came about, in tandem with alternating chapters exploring relevant Atlanta history in key areas such as race and public health.

Marilyn GatesNew York Journal of Books

Offering both an account of Atlanta’s tumultuous history and an anatomical breakdown of the BeltLine project so far, Pendergrast situates City on the Verge within the larger context of urban America’s future. A must-read for urban-planning junkies, it should also appeal to those interested in community building and the oft-charged politics of the built environment.

Seven Days

The story of this era's American renewal is mainly being played out in its cities. And the story of Atlanta's effort to remake itself, around its ambitious and visionary BeltLine project, is one of the most significant and evocative of today's urban dramas. Mark Pendergrast does a wonderful job of connecting the details of his native city's successes – and struggles – with the implications for cities in the rest of the country and around the world.

James Fallowsnational correspondent for The Atlantic

Atlanta is creating something unique among American cities: a green network of more than 20 new or expanded parks occupying 1,300 acres, connected by multi-use trails and new transit lines, encircling the entire city and connecting 45 neighborhoods. City on the Verge describes how this BeltLine, for which I prepared the initial master plan, overcame financing problems, litigation, power struggles, politics, property rights, and topographical reality, to become a major recreational resource that is already enhancing the daily life for tens of thousands of Atlantans.

Alexander Garvinarchitect, city planner, and author of What Makes a Great City

In the late 20th century, metro Atlanta became the fastest growing human settlement in world history; the poster child of sprawl. With the building of the rail-and-trail BeltLine it will once again lead the country, but toward a walkable urban future. Every metro area in the country will consider building a BeltLine. Pendergrast’s book is required reading to understand the future of metropolitan America.

Christopher Leinbergermetropolitan land use strategist and author of The Option of Urbanism

Atlanta colleagues used to joke that Atlanta was the “Public Health Capital of the US” because it had CDC, the Carter Center, and good hospitals. “No,” I would argue, “There aren’t enough sidewalks, scarcely anywhere to walk, and parks are too few and poorly accessible. The place seems built only for car drivers and country club members. In Pendergrast’s excellent book, we see how Atlanta is going from a fat city to a healthy one with the help of the BeltLine and good leadership.

Dr. Richard Jacksonformer Director, CDC National Center for Environmental Health, and author of Designing Healthy Communities

Atlanta is indeed a City on the Verge, as Mark Pendergrast observes -- it aspires to remake itself into a vital, sustainable, livable mecca. Pendergrast weaves together lessons in urban design, local politics, history and human nature that pull the reader in like a mystery. His book reinforces the famous Margaret Meade quote about the ability of a small group of dedicated people to bring about change.

Dennis Creechco-founder of Southface Energy Institute

City on the Verge tells the story of the many Atlantas that are coming together through the creation of the Atlanta BeltLine. While this convergence is at times painful and uncomfortable, it is also long overdue. Thanks to Mark Pendergrast for presenting his insightful observations about our past, our present and the opportunity before us as we approach the future.

Michael HalickiExecutive Director, Park Pride

City on the Verge is a must read for city-builders, urbanists, and anyone who cares about our future. Sunbelt cities like Atlanta are booming, attracting people from across the country and remaking themselves from sprawling suburban areas to more dynamic urban centers. With a journalist’s eye for detail and a writerly knack for great story-telling, Mark Pendergrast takes us inside the forces and actors that are transforming Atlanta and the urban world we live in.

Richard Floridaauthor of The Rise of the Creative Class, The New Urban Crisis, and other books