During the 2000s, Atlanta underwent a profound physical, cultural, and demographic transformation. Suburbanization, a booming economy, and new migrants decreased the city's black percentage from a high of 67% in 1990 to 54% in 2010. From 2000 to 2010, Atlanta gained 22,763 white residents, 5,142 Asian residents, and 3,095 Hispanic residents, while the city's black population decreased by 31,678. Much of the city's demographic change during the decade was driven by young, college-educated professionals: from 2000 to 2009, the three-mile radius surrounding Downtown Atlanta gained 9,722 residents aged 25 to 34 holding at least a four-year degree, an increase of 61%. Between the mid-1990s and 2010, stimulated by funding from the HOPE VI program, Atlanta demolished nearly all of its public housing, a total of 17,000 units and about 10% of all housing units in the city. In 2005, the $2.8 billion BeltLine project was adopted, with the stated goals of converting a disused 22-mile freight railroad loop that surrounds the central city into an art-filled multi-use trail and increasing the city's park space by 40%. Atlanta's cultural offerings expanded during the 2000s: the High Museum of Art doubled in size; the Alliance Theatre won a Tony Award; and art galleries were established on the once-industrial Westside.
Due to the more than 30 colleges and universities located in the city, Atlanta is considered a center for higher education. The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the most prominent public universities in Atlanta; it is a research university located in Midtown that has been consistently ranked among the nation's top ten public universities for its degree programs in engineering, computing, management, the sciences, architecture, and liberal arts. Georgia State University is a major public research university located in Downtown Atlanta; it is the largest of the 29 public colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia and is a significant contributor to the revitalization of the city's central business district. Atlanta is home to nationally renowned private colleges and universities, most notably Emory University, a leading liberal arts and research institution that ranks among the top 20 schools in the United States and operates Emory Healthcare, the largest health care system in Georgia. The Atlanta University Center is also located in the city; it is the largest contiguous consortium of historically black colleges, comprising Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Interdenominational Theological Center. Atlanta contains a campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design, a private art and design university that has proven to be a major factor in the recent growth of Atlanta's visual art community.
Fifty-five thousand students are enrolled in 106 schools in Atlanta Public Schools, some of which are operated as charter schools. The district has been plagued by a widely publicized cheating scandal that was exposed in 2009. Atlanta is served by many private schools, including parochial Roman Catholic schools operated by the Archdiocese of Atlanta.