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Old 08-04-2010, 11:40 PM
 
Location: South St Louis
4,142 posts, read 3,794,583 times
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I'm a little confused about a few things pertaining to the population of Metro Atlanta. Perhaps I'm at a disadvantage to understand, being an outsider. Please help to shed some light on these humble observations:

First: Metro Atlanta is said to contain 5,475,000 persons. I wanted to know where all of these people live, since it's clearly not in the city of Atlanta. So I totalled the population of the city of Atlanta, the populations of all the incorporated places within the ATL metropolitan area (from a list on Wikipedia), as well as the populations of all the CDP's (again from Wiki). The grand total is about 2,121,000. Er....where are the other 3,354,000? Do the vast majority of persons living in Metro ATL live in unnamed unincorporated places? Am I missing something here?

Second: Similar-size metro areas to Atlanta seem to contain mega-suburbs of 100,000 people or greater. Miami (5,547,000) has 9 or 10 such suburbs-- one of them (Hialeah) exceeding 200K. Metro Washington, DC (5,547,000) also has mega-suburbs, and one that exceeds 200K (Arlington). Even some of the far-smaller metros, (like Kansas City and Las Vegas), contain mega-suburbs. This is commonplace among many sprawing U.S. cities. But in Metro Atlanta, which many say is the epidome of sprawl, the largest suburb I can find is Roswell (about 87,000). Any thoughts?

Third: Metropolitan Atlanta is comprised of 28 counties. I'm not positive about this, but I think that has to be the highest number of counties included in any U.S. metro area. (To compare to the metros above, Metro Washington is comprised of 15 counties (and 6 independent cities), and Metro Miami has just 3.) I'm sure part of the reason lies in the fact that Georgia counties tend to be geographically smaller than counties in many other states. (Georgia has more counties than any state except Texas.) But still, 28? I have to assume that sprawl is the biggest factor. Are there other reasons?
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:14 AM
 
Location: Toronto
124 posts, read 128,655 times
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Cummuting patterns.. The counties are really small..
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:07 AM
 
Location: San Francisco
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Fulton County is about 1.1 million, Dekalb County is about .78 million, Cobb County is about .72 million, Gwinnett County is about .81 million, and Clayton is about .3 million. These counties all border Fulton to form an area just over 2,000 sq. mi. So let's call it 3.71 million people in 2,000 sq. mi. That's a density of over 1,850 people per sq. mi. for a vast swath of land. Atlanta is not as country as you think and the metro has an overall similar density to the DC metro.

To address counties: FL, a similarly sized state (53,000 sq. mi.) has I think 67 counties. Georgia has 139, over twice as many. Therefore counties here are pretty small, one of the smallest averages in the country. 28 counties here might equal 10-12 counties in FL, which is still large, obviously, but the huge bulk of the population of Atlanta falls in probably 6-7 counties.

As for suburbs, some places have denser suburbs (Miami) while other places have suburbs that are over 100 sq. mi. (most places with "large" suburbs). Both size and density contribute to population.

As for DC suburbs, VA in particular is a state of municipalities that are separate completely from counties. Richmond, for instance, is not in a county, but is considered its own municipality. Maryland is situated in a similar manner. I think there is a Baltimore County, but there is also a Baltimore City, and the city does not lie in the county at all. It is its own entity. It is similar to saying Roswell is not in Fulton/Cobb counties, but is its own complete entity.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:43 AM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 6,272,605 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1greatcity View Post
I'm a little confused about a few things pertaining to the population of Metro Atlanta. Perhaps I'm at a disadvantage to understand, being an outsider. Please help to shed some light on these humble observations:

First: Metro Atlanta is said to contain 5,475,000 persons. I wanted to know where all of these people live, since it's clearly not in the city of Atlanta. So I totalled the population of the city of Atlanta, the populations of all the incorporated places within the ATL metropolitan area (from a list on Wikipedia), as well as the populations of all the CDP's (again from Wiki). The grand total is about 2,121,000. Er....where are the other 3,354,000? Do the vast majority of persons living in Metro ATL live in unnamed unincorporated places? Am I missing something here?
Basically, yes. Metro Atlanta is unusual in that huge swaths of suburbia are unincorporated. This does not mean that we have unpaved roads and septic tanks. The counties are small, compared to counties in most other states, and effectively provide all the same services as an incorporated town or city, e.g. sewers, street lighting, parks, libraries, etc.

In Fulton County there's been a trend to incorporation just in the last few years, so there are now a lot more incorporated areas there. This has occurred because the county is relatively large and diverse, and the taxpayers in some parts have wanted more local control. In the neighboring counties, however, there's continuing lack of interest in incorporation. In Cobb County where I live for example, the county government is efficient, taxes are low and services are good. Why would we want to pay for an extra layer of government, when it wouldn't gain us anything, materially?

This feature of Atlanta suburbs very frequently confuses people moving here from other parts of the country. They're always wanting to know about the relatively small incorporated cities within Cobb (which are pretty much like little islands in a sea of unincorporated suburbia). When locals here on the forum suggest the newcomer consider the unincorporated parts, they react dismissively, stating or implying that they don't want to live in an under-served semi-rural area. This is ironic because most of the toniest and most sought-after parts of Cobb County, with the prestigious schools, are ... err ... unincorporated. You just have to get your mind around it.
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Old 08-05-2010, 08:38 AM
 
719 posts, read 1,525,342 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1greatcity View Post
First: Metro Atlanta is said to contain 5,475,000 persons. I wanted to know where all of these people live, since it's clearly not in the city of Atlanta. So I totalled the population of the city of Atlanta, the populations of all the incorporated places within the ATL metropolitan area (from a list on Wikipedia), as well as the populations of all the CDP's (again from Wiki). The grand total is about 2,121,000. Er....where are the other 3,354,000? Do the vast majority of persons living in Metro ATL live in unnamed unincorporated places? Am I missing something here?
It's an interesting observation. There's nothing even remotely resembling a Daly City, an Anaheim, a Gary, IN, or even a Bethesda or an Alexandria in Atlanta. I even still find it strange seeing the term "Sandy Springs" included in the name the census bureau gives the Atlanta area. It just looks strange to me.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:36 AM
 
Location: The Greatest city on Earth: City of Atlanta Proper
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A really easy way to clear up the confusion, and a lot of people have alluded to it, is that in Georgia counties have the same powers that usually only municipalities/incorporated places have in other places. So that means the county will provide water, police, fire, ambulance, schools, public works, and other services to the parts of the county not in a city. So in essence, if you take Gwinnett County it is basically one huge suburb of 800,080 in 433 square miles of land. That may sound like a lot of space, but consider that is half the land area that Jacksonville, FL takes with nearly the same exact population.

As also mentioned by previous posters, Georgia has a ton of counties (159 not 139) with relatively small land areas. This is a byproduct of what occurred when the country was created in the late 18th century. At that time, it was decided that residents should be no further than a day's horse ride to County Court House. Since Georgia is such a large state (the largest state in size for the country's first 70 years), it subdivided it's counties much more so that any state at the time. So to get an idea of just how small the counties are, the largest county in size and population for Metro Atlanta is Fulton County at 1.1 million people and 529 square miles. Again, that's seems like a lot of space, but consider that Harris County, TX (Houston) is 1700 square miles or that Los Angeles county is a whopping 4061 square miles

You could take the 5 core Metro Atlanta counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Dekalb, and Clayton (which account for 80% of the Atlanta CSA population) and it would fit in less than half the space of Los Angeles county.

As for you last point about the number of counties in the Atlanta CSA, that is what happens when you only have only one major city at least 400 miles in any direction. So the amount of counties in the CSA isn't a reflection of suburban sprawl, but a reflection of the fact that Atlanta is the economic engine of not only Georgia but of pretty much the entire Southeast. So many people from the region come to Atlanta and the surrounding area to work that it is measured in our CSA numbers. Unlike other metros though, these areas aren't consider "Atlanta". "Atlanta" is primarily:

1. The City of Atlanta
2. The ITP "suburbs" of East Point, College Park, Decatur, part of Sandy Springs, Chamblee, and Doraville. This area is just in central Fulton County and Northern, Eastern, and Southern Dekalb County. All of these areas run concurrent with the city of Atlanta and for most part are not what many would imagine when the think post WWII suburbia. Many of them are actually older than the City of Atlanta itself.
3. The OTP suburbs of Cobb, Gwinnett, Western Dekalb, Northern Fulton, Clayton, and Douglas Counties
4. The exurban counties of Fayette, South Western Fulton County (Confused yet? :P ) Rockdale, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding and Henry Counties

Outside of this area are 19 other counties that are included in the Atlanta CSA by the census bureau, but only contains less than 10% of Metro Atlanta's population and not considered by most Metro Atlanta's to be "true Atlanta". Many of us (mostly ITP folks) call this area what it is: "Georgia"

Last edited by waronxmas; 08-05-2010 at 10:29 AM..
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:46 AM
 
Location: San Francisco
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^^^^Do we even want a Gary, IN? Also, Buckhead is far enough from downtown to be for Atlanta what Bethesda/Chevy Chase are for DC, but Buckhead is still part of the City of Atlanta. Sandy Springs would be like the Rockville and Vinings would be like the Tysons Corner. Alexandria is one of the oldest cities in the country, hence why it is established, built up, and so large. It is also virtually right across the river from the core of DC, so if DC were to be a little larger in land area like Atlanta's size, it would swallow Restton, Alexandria, much of Fairfax, and probably even Bethesda/Chevy Chase. DC and Atlanta are actually pretty similar in metropolitan layout, though Atlanta lacks the density of inner DC and Alexandria, and of course, lacks the history. Our city was not designed in the 1700s by L'Enfant.

Overall, even though Census numbers say that Atlanta has a larger metro population than DC or S FL, I would say both of those cities are in fact "larger" still, and that is evident when you go to them. It is hard to compare any US city to S FL, because half of S FL is hotels and 2nd/3rd homes for people all over the world, and that is why it seems so built up. It is hard for any city to match that overall density. DC, on the other hand, seems more built up than it probably would be otherwise because it has almost no "industry" but is all office space in buildings less than 15 floors high, equating to more buildings in downtown and in the suburbs. Take away the government, and DC would not be close to the powerhouse, overall density, and development that Atlanta has.

Also, if you add up DC, Montgomery, Prince Williams, Alexandria, Fairfax, and the inner counties/municpalities of DC, it comes out to about the same as if you add up Atlanta and its inner core counties. They are neck in neck in population and in land area.
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:25 AM
 
Location: The Greatest city on Earth: City of Atlanta Proper
8,071 posts, read 12,862,632 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimms3 View Post
Also, Buckhead is far enough from downtown to be for Atlanta what Bethesda/Chevy Chase are for DC, but Buckhead is still part of the City of Atlanta.
If you mean the Buckhead Financial District centered around the Lenox/Phipps area, then yes. "Buckhead" itself though is pretty much everything in the city north of the area centered on 25th street (this varies by whom you speak to).

Last edited by waronxmas; 08-05-2010 at 10:26 AM.. Reason: Oops, just saw that was for someone else. Moving along...
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:37 AM
 
Location: San Francisco
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I consider Buckhead the financial district and the area between Peachtree Battle and Blackland Road give or take a few blocks on either side. Bethesda is like the Buckhead Financial district, albeit considerably smaller, and Chevy Chase is like the housing area I mentioned. I know the signs welcome you to Buckhead at 25th St, but that is more like Brookwood Hills to me (I prefer to be more specific when naming areas). Even within Buckhead there are individual districts like Tuxedo Park, but that's getting really specific.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:30 AM
 
Location: East Side of ATL
4,552 posts, read 6,509,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsimms3 View Post
As for DC suburbs, VA in particular is a state of municipalities that are separate completely from counties. Richmond, for instance, is not in a county, but is considered its own municipality. Maryland is situated in a similar manner. I think there is a Baltimore County, but there is also a Baltimore City, and the city does not lie in the county at all. It is its own entity. It is similar to saying Roswell is not in Fulton/Cobb counties, but is its own complete entity.
Baltimore City is an independent city (like St. Louis, 1 of the 3 in the US) that are competely separate from the surrounding county.

VA has different rules for their municipalities, so if you are a city, you are "independent" from the surrounding county. I'm assuming that has to do with being a Commonwealth state?

Alot of metro Atlanta is unincorporated but compared to MD, they are alot of incorporated cities here.
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