Elements of Urbanism: Buckhead & Midtown Atlanta

December 24, 2009 50 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explores two of Atlanta's most booming urban districts: Buckhead & Midtown.

Tale of the Tape:

Atlanta Population 2008: 537,958 (City); 5,376,285 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1847)

Jacksonville Pop. 2008: 807,815 (City); 1,313,228 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Atlanta (331,314)

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2008)

Atlanta: +26.56%
Jacksonville: +16.97%


Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Atlanta: 3,499,840 (ranked 11 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)


Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Atlanta: 1,783.3
Jacksonville: 2,149.2


City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008

Atlanta: +121,484
Jacksonville: +72,312


Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Atlanta: Georgia World Congress Center (1976) - 1,400,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

Adjacent to Convention Center:

Atlanta: Omni Hotel at CNN Center (1,070 rooms)
Jacksonville: N/A


Tallest Building:

Atlanta: Bank of America Plaza - 1,023 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):

Atlanta: Home Depot (25), UPS (43), Coca-Cola (73), Delta Air Lines (111), Coca-Cola Enterprises (116), Southern (149), SunTrust Banks (211), Genuine Parts (247), Newell Rubbermaid (387)
Jacksonville: CSX (240), Winn-Dixie (340)


Urban infill obstacles:

Atlanta: Expanding mass transit options
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

Atlanta: Midtown Atlanta
Jacksonville: East Bay Street  


Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Atlanta: 81 out of 100, according to walkscore.com (Five Points=95, Midtown=87, Buckhead=61)
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

City Land Area

Atlanta: 131.8 square miles
Jacksonville: 767 square miles

Green = Jacksonville's city limits (current urban core) before consolidation in 1968
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits

Jacksonville's current and original city limit boundaries over Atlanta's limits (highlighted in orange).

Midtown and Buckhead Locator Map

Midtown Atlanta

Midtown Atlanta is the second largest financial district in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, situated between the commercial and financial district of Downtown to the south and the affluent residential and commercial district of Buckhead to the north. Midtown contains about one-third of the city's high-rises and some of Atlanta's most iconic buildings, such as the Bank of America Plaza, (situated between Midtown and Downtown), AT&T Midtown Center, Atlantic Center, 1180 Peachtree, and Promenade II. The district is the epicenter of the city's music and artistic scene that includes the Fox Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the 14th Street Playhouse.

As defined by the Midtown Alliance organization, the area measures approximately four square miles and has a resident population of 30,000. The area also has a workplace population of 68,000, along with 20,000 students and approximately 6 million visitors annually.

Midtown Atlanta is a commercial district in its own right, containing 22 million square feet of office space, with 8.2 million square feet of office space added to the area since 1997, with up to 3.8 million square feet more planned. Furthermore, Midtown is the home to the corporate headquarters such as Equifax, EarthLink, Invesco, and The Coca-Cola Company, as well as other corporations with a sizeable presence such as Norfolk Southern, Wachovia, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and AT&T, as a result of its purchase of BellSouth. Google's Atlanta area office is in Midtown.

Major law firms such as King & Spalding and Kilpatrick & Stockton are also located in this district.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, once located at 104 Marietta Street NW prior to 2001, is located at 1000 Peachtree Street NE.

Midtown is known throughout Atlanta as an extremely popular, cosmopolitan, and vibrant area for nightlife. Many of the city's trendy restaurants and bars are located in Midtown. An estimated 52% of all of the city's nightclubs are located in Midtown. Some of the prominent bars and clubs include CosmoLava (Cosmopolitan Lounge and Lava), Opera, Primal, Leopard Lounge, Door 44, Verve Lounge (shown above), Twisted Taco, The Phoenix, Halo, Fox and Hound, Highland & Co. and many others.

Midtown is known by many residents as the "Heart of the Arts". It is the home of the Fox Theatre, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Richard Meier and Renzo Piano -designed High Museum of Art (shown above), as well as the Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and other arts and entertainment venues. Recently, the Woodruff Arts Center and its campus have been expanded. Future additions will include a new Atlanta Symphony Center designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The High is currently collaborating with the Louvre to house a temporary collection of masterpieces from the Paris museum. As well as being a major arts and entertainment enclave, Midtown Atlanta is home to a vibrant cultural community, bringing together people from every walk of life. The district hosts the Atlanta Dogwood Festival in the spring along with the Atlanta Pride and the finish line of the Peachtree Road Race in the summer. History enthusiasts can tour the Margaret Mitchell House and Rhodes Hall, both of which can be rented for corporate or social events, as well.

Midtown Atlanta has in the past decade been a fast-growing community with appreciating land and property values, as land is a precious commodity in this urban area. As residents begin to return to the city following decades of suburban retreat from the city center, Midtown Atlanta offers an attractive mix of amenities and attractions, as well as proximity to downtown offices and destinations. The recent construction and opening of the Seventeenth Street Bridge over the Downtown Connector has reconnected Midtown with the west-side of the city. It connects Midtown to a new multi-billion dollar mixed-use development, called Atlantic Station, on the former site of the Atlantic Steel company, which is the site of new housing, office, and retail space. In early 2006, Mayor Shirley Franklin set in motion a plan to make the 14-block stretch of Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta (nicknamed "Midtown Mile") a street-level shopping destination envisioned to rival Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive or Chicago's Magnificent Mile. It has brought a number of stores along the stretch, such as the upscale Kartell. Restaurants such as Yogen Früz, Piola, Ri Ra Irish Pub, RA Sushi, and Pinkberry all have plans to have locations in Midtown. Apple has also expressed interest in building a flagship store along the Midtown Mile development.

In addition to the Midtown Mile, Midtown Atlanta has recently seen a hotel boom. With the influx of wealth moving to the area, many luxury hotels had proposed and/or started construction of the hotel. Some of the hotels that are building or have plans to do so in Midtown Atlanta include the Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental, Hotel Monaco, and Loews Hotels. The Four Seasons Hotel, the W Hotel, and Hotel Palomar already have Midtown locations.

Atlantic Station

Atlantic Station is a large brownfield redevelopment project at the northwestern edge of Midtown Atlanta, Georgia. Atlantic Station is being master developed by AIG Global Real Estate and local development partner Jacoby Development, Inc. First planned in the mid-1990s and officially opened in 2005, its 138 acres of mixed-use land development is on the former brownfield site of the Atlantic Steel Mill, which after years of industrial use and contamination was remediated by its two developers along with AIG Environmental, Inc. At completion, the redevelopment is ultimately projected to include 15,000,000 square feet of retail, office, residential and hotel space as well as 11 acres of public parks. Its size encouraged the Postal Service to award the neighborhood its own ZIP code: 30363.

Atlantic Station received the EPA's 2004 Phoenix Award as the Best National Brownfield Redevelopment, as well as, the Sierra Club's 2005 America's Best New Development Projects listing.


Buckhead is the uptown district within the city of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Comprising approximately the northern one-fifth of the city, Buckhead is legally defined as that portion of the city of Atlanta northwest of Interstate 85 and northeast of Interstate 75.

It is sometimes promoted as the "Beverly Hills of the South" in reference to Beverly Hills, California, an area to which it is often compared.

While much of west and north Buckhead maintains itself in single-family unit residential in forested settings, the Peachtree Road corridor has become a major focus of high-rise construction. The first 400-foot (121 m) office tower, Tower Place, opened in 1974. Park Place, in 1986, was the first 400+ foot (121+ m) condominium. 1986 Also saw the completion of the 425-foot (129 m), 34-story Atlanta Plaza, then Buckhead's tallest and largest building. In 2000, Park Avenue Condominiums upped the ante, pushing the record to 486 feet (148 m). Since that time, a wave of development has followed. Recently, the 660-foot (201 m) Sovereign and 580-foot (177 m) Mansion on Peachtree were completed in late 2008. Today, Buckhead has over 50 high-rise buildings, almost one-third of the city's total.

Buckhead is an internationally renowned shopping district with more than 1,400 retail units where shoppers spend more than $1 billion a year.[18] In addition, Buckhead contains the highest concentration of upscale boutiques in the United States.[19] Historically the primary shopping district comprises Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, sister regional malls located diagonally across Peachtree Road and Lenox Road from each other.

Transit oriented development at MARTA's Lenox Station.

MARTA has three stations in Buckhead, the southernmost being Lindbergh Center. Just north of there, the original northeast (orange) and later north (red) lines split, with Lenox at the southwest corner of the Lenox Square parking lot, and (since late 1996) Buckhead on the west side of the malls at Peachtree and 400. A free circulator bus called "the buc" (Buckhead Uptown Connection) notes that "the buc stops here" at all three stations. The proposed Peachtree Streetcar project would provide street-level service with frequent stops all the way to downtown Atlanta, complementing the existing subway-type MARTA train service.

The name "Buckhead" comes from a story that Henry Irby, who had a general store and tavern at what is now the intersection of West Paces Ferry Road and Roswell Road, killed a large buck deer and placed the head in a prominent location. Prior to this, it was called Irbyville through most of the 19th century.

The community was annexed by Atlanta in 1952, following an earlier attempt by Mayor William B. Hartsfield in 1946 that was voted down by residents.

The main north/south street is Peachtree Road, which extends south into the heart of the city as Peachtree Street. This name change is significant in that it defines a border between Buckhead and Midtown Atlanta. The main east/west street is Paces Ferry Road, named for a former ferry across the Chattahoochee River. Hardy Pace, one of Atlanta's founders, operated the ferry and owned much of what is now Buckhead, and as far west as Vinings. The area north of Buckhead, beyond the Atlanta city limit, is since 2005 the city of Sandy Springs.

According to Forbes Magazine, Buckhead is home to the ninth-wealthiest zip code in the nation (30327), with a household income in excess of $341,000 per year and is the location of one of the wealthiest of Atlanta's neighborhoods.

Other Metro Jacksonville Atlanta Photo Articles

Downtown Atlanta:

Atlantic Station:

Centennial Olympic Park:

Article by Ennis Davis

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midtown_Atlanta, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Station & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckhead_(Atlanta)