Between 2000 and 2010, Atlantans prided themselves on the assumption, fueled by annual Census Bureau estimates, that the Georgia capital boasted more than 500,000 residents. Then the numbers came in. As reality would have it, the national economy had crashed right down on the so-called capital of the South, keeping the population nearly stagnant and popping the real estate bubble that had developed in those pre-crash years of civic optimism. But like many other cities affected by the recession, Atlanta is learning from its mistakes and developing polices fit for a less flush future. In this story, journalist Thomas Wheatley asks what’s next for Atlanta and other Sun Belt cities grappling with similar post-boom fates. Wheatley provides thoughtful analysis of the polices and projects driving recovery in Atlanta and across the region, paying close attention to the smart growth trends reshaping the nation’s sprawl capital.