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Talk:Metro Atlanta

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Regions & cities[edit]

I'm not sure whether we want articles for all of the existing five subregions (counties), but I don't know the area well enough to be a good judge of how to do this. I listed all cities for which we have articles falling within the region on this page, mostly just to keep things organized while this is sorted out. But if we do decide that we want the subregion articles, this list should be reduced to the traditional maximum of nine. --Peter Talk 17:43, 18 November 2009 (EST)

Counties are not regions[edit]

Seriously, have you seen the shape of Fulton county? There's no way that's a useful division for travelers. --BigPeteB 14:27, 8 April 2011 (EDT)

See Wikitravel:Geographical hierarchy#Dividing geographical units. In general use of counties as regions is not encouraged unless they make sense for travel; they are also helpful to locals who are trying to figure out where to put content in Wikitravel. As an example, for California the regions aren't counties, but where it made sense we tried to align region borders with county borders as a way of making it clearer what the region boundaries are. -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:35, 8 April 2011 (EDT)
So... you agree?
I'm realizing as I look at all of the sub-pages that this is really a mess. It's been almost entirely divided by political divisions (counties and cities) which is not even intuitive to me as a local... it would be a complete mess for a traveler trying to use this as a guide.
I'd really like to see the whole thing reorganized from the top down, but I'm not sure how to go about this, given the amount of existing content (not to mention that it appears a single user has made Decatur (20,000 people) into a slightly longer article than Atlanta (420,000 people)) but I think it needs to get done. Atlanta's political divisions are a mess compared to most metros of this size, and using them to subdivide articles here makes no sense. --BigPeteB 15:03, 8 April 2011 (EDT)
Propose a breakdown, ideally with a map (it doesn't have to be a good one), and then if there is a consensus for change solicit help in reorganizing things. See Talk:Washington (state)#Geographical hierarchy for a similar discussion. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:17, 8 April 2011 (EDT)

Proposed new breakdown for "Atlanta" limits[edit]

New proposed boundary for Atlanta (very rough sketch)

I'd like to see Atlanta and its surrounding communities restructured some. The subdivisions of Metro Atlanta are just counties, and are unintuitive even to me having lived here for 10 years. It also looks like Atlanta is mostly defined using the city limits, which is really unhelpful. I propose changing the definition of what goes under Atlanta to be closely (but not exactly) aligned with MARTA and ITP, so that small towns like Decatur and Chamblee get put in proper context as one part of a sprawling metro area.

My concept for "Atlanta" is that it should roughly be areas served by MARTA. This is broadly similar to ITP, but it excludes the whole I-75 corridor north of Howell Mill Rd. It includes a decent chunk of Sandy Springs and Doraville, even though they're partially OTP. It also includes all of Dekalb County ITP—I don't see a compelling reason why it was left out in the first place.

Since travelers will inevitable use the highways to visit areas outside of Atlanta (whatever that ends up being) I propose using them to divide Metro Atlanta into manageable areas:

Conveniently, the highways all go in cardinal directions, which is easy for visitors to keep straight.

I don't want to act unilaterally, and I welcome debate. I'd love to see some feedback, for or against. But let's work on getting Atlanta organized in a way that's useful for travelers, instead of politicians. --BigPeteB 13:26, 8 May 2011 (EDT)

Well, it's been a week, and no one has given any comments. I'm going to explain in a little more detail why I think this is a good plan, in hopes of soliciting some comments. (And then if no one replies still... well, we'll see what happens first.)
Atlanta has a long history of not merging with surrounding communities. In fact many of the small communities outside the city limits have themselves not incorporated until very recently (Sandy Springs and Johns Creek just incorporated within the last few years.) Between that and the obvious gerrymandering, the legal borders of Atlanta and Fulton county, and the surrounding areas, are totally meaningless to visitors. In keeping with Wikitravel's policy, we shouldn't be relying on them to define the limits of Atlanta.
Atlanta is also mostly a driving city. For the foreseeable future, public transit is only useful for visiting a handful of areas; and even between MARTA-accessible places, it would be faster (and probably cheaper) to drive. The connecting bus services (CCT, GCT, etc) are even worse; I wouldn't even mention them to travelers because they're a massive waste of time compared to just renting a car.
That leaves the problem of where to draw the limits of Atlanta, and then how to divide up Metro Atlanta. As an easy measure, I've suggested roughly following MARTA because it nicely separates MARTA-accessible destinations from ones where having a car is a necessity. It's easy to comprehend and to decide whether something belongs under Atlanta or Metro Atlanta. And (at present) it's very similar to ITP/OTP, which is how locals tend to think of Atlanta versus the rest of the metro area.
This involves some major reorganization, but consider:
  • All three of the major Atlanta airports (Hartsfield-Jackson, Dekalb-Peachtree, and Fulton County) end up under Atlanta. Seeing as PDK and FTY are the second- and third-busiest airports in all of Georgia, it seems silly to exclude them because they're not within the official city limits.
  • Destinations served by MARTA, like Decatur, Chamblee, Doraville, and Sandy Springs, end up under Atlanta which is where MARTA is described. This fixes the hierarchy problem that currently exists with them.
There are some points for debate. I personally think that some or all of Sandy Springs and Doraville should be included under Atlanta, because although they're on the border (or just outside) of I-285, they're both directly served by MARTA stations. On the other hand, I would leave out North Springs Station, since it's almost exclusively used by commuters and there's not much to visit near it.
To the northwest, you quickly run into Cobb County, which is very difficult to access from MARTA. The nearest place of interest is Vinings (which is off the highway and pretty much requires a car to access) and then Smyrna, which is definitely OTP. So I would cut it off early near Howell Mill Rd, and let the whole I-75N corridor be covered under the Northwest sub-region.
On the west side, MARTA rail doesn't quite run to Fulton County Airport, but it's easy to connect by bus, and it makes a lot more sense than putting FTY under Metro Atlanta/West or some other nonsense place that hides its connection to Atlanta. Six Flags, on the other hand, is more of a Get Out destination since you'd be spending all day there, so leaving that out from Atlanta seems to make sense.
On the east side, I'm strongly in favor of including Dekalb county, which is the only other county that did agree to participate in MARTA from the beginning. 285 is a convenient border, since you really need a car to go out any further (say to Stone Mountain).
To the south, I don't see a point in towns like Hapeville, East Point, and College Park having their own articles; there's barely enough to write about. It would be much better to cover them more generally under Atlanta/South.
--BigPeteB 12:46, 15 May 2011 (EDT)
I think the lack of response has mostly been due to lack of contributors with knowledge of the area. Knowing almost nothing about Atlanta I can personally only offer suggestions based on efforts to define boundaries for other cities in regions, and the biggest one is just to make sure that the borders are very clearly defined, particularly if your proposal is to use something other than recognized city borders. Contributors to Wikitravel need to understand how a region is organized, and locals generally assume that official government borders are being used unless there is a map or other delineation that they can easily follow.
As a result, it is often good to use official borders as much as possible and to deviate only where there is a clear benefit to doing so. You've made some good arguments above, but for cases of individual towns, even if they are small, it is definitely worth strongly considering whether they really won't ever deserve an article before subsuming them into another city article.
With that said, the current article apparently has issues, so barring further comment your best bet may just be to plunge forward and start making what you feel are some of the more obvious cleanups and see how things go. -- Ryan • (talk) • 13:09, 15 May 2011 (EDT)