For decades, Atlanta has been the poster child for "sprawl," defined by its traffic-clogging and suburban development patterns. The widespread prevalence of sprawl with all its largely negative impacts on urban life has resulted in efforts to curb its continual growth. Nowhere else in Atlanta have these efforts borne as much as fruit as in Perimeter Center. The definition of sprawl and its growth in American cities, particularly Atlanta's Perimeter Center region, along with the methods currently being deployed to curb it are explored in this paper. .
Before delving into the history and effects of sprawl, it would be appropriate to define it. The Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research has defined sprawl as a "particular form of suburban growth which occurs when residential and non-residential developments expand in an unlimited and noncontiguous, or leapfrog, way outward from a solidly built-up core of a metropolitan area"" (Juergensmeyer 925). Residential developments mostly include single family housing with large numbers of distant units scattered in outlying areas, while nonresidential development includes strip malls, shopping centers, office parks, and even schools and other public buildings (925). .
Sprawl in the continental United States started out at the turn of the nineteenth century, when Americans sought to escape urban congestion and industrial pollution. Housing conditions were poor, with inadequate lighting and even poorer sanitation. After the Second World War when the standard of living rose and automobile usage became common, incidences of sprawl also increased. As people could live at greater distances from their workplace, they finally realized their "dream of raising a family in a detached single-family house with a big backyard in a suburban location"" (Griffith 566). In the last 25 years, Atlanta, Georgia has been one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States, as it has "emerged to become the premier commercial, industrial, and transportation center of the south-east"" (Yang and Lo 1775).