Newman shows how the cultural tradition of hospitality has encouraged
the growth of Atlanta's convention and tourist industry and contributed
to the city's rapid development.
Harvey Newman finds that the international attention Atlanta
enjoys because of its recent hosting of the Olympics is actually the culmination
of a tradition of boosterism that dates back to antebellum times and the
central place of hospitality within southern culture. Newman's study considers
how social forces, historic events, and major entrepreneurs have influenced
Atlanta's commercial development. Throughout the city's history, Newman
observes, the value of southern hospitality has ensured ongoing support
for efforts to develop hospitality as a commercial enterprise.
Newman calls particular attention to how issues of race,
gender, ethnicity, and class have affected the development of the Atlanta
hospitality industry. African Americans traditionally provided much of
the labor for the industry, first as slaves who cooked, cleaned, carried
bags, and shined shoes at railroad inns and later as workers in the restaurants
and hotels established in the central city. Segregation led African Americans
to develop their own commercial areas and business districts. In the early
years, women--black and white--found that hospitality was one of the few
industries in which they were allowed to work: white widows often ran boarding
houses, and black women found work cooking and cleaning in hotels and restaurants.
Although the transformation of downtown Atlanta into a
tourist and convention center has provided jobs for many residents, Newman
concludes that people in the central city--mostly African Americans--have
not shared equally in the region's overall economic growth. Instead, Newman
considers the division and tension between downtown and the suburbs, and
he questions whether the city should continue to make large public investments
in hospitality businesses that are available in other localities and do
not reflect the region's specific culture. Instead, Newman suggests the
city invest in smaller projects, especially those that emphasize the culture
of the South and those that aim to revitalize African American neighborhoods
and promote the culture of the South shared by blacks and whites.