1st Avenue South

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1st Avenue South (originally called Avenue A) is an east-west avenue in Birmingham running from I-65 in the west to Roebuck in the east. In the downtown area it is just south of Powell Avenue and one block from the Railroad Reservation. As it proceeds eastward it is interrupted by I-20/59 near Gate City and resumes in Woodlawn separated from 1st Avenue North by Division Avenue. It is once again interrupted by I-59 at 82nd Street South in East Lake and then terminates at 87th Street South just shy of Parkway East near the Roebuck Municipal Golf Course

The downtown section of 1st Avenue South is undergoing large scale redevelopment. It the main frontage for the Railroad Park between 14th and 18th Streets, and is also experiencing significant redevelopment around the location of the 1st Avenue Cut, which was redeveloped as the Rotary Trail. In 2016 the Birmingham City Council approved changing the name of a two-block section of 1st Avenue South adjacent to Regions Field to Willie Mays Drive.

1st Avenue Cut

The 1st Avenue Cut, looking west from the 24th Street Viaduct in 2005
Looking west from the 2200 block in 2011

The 1st Avenue Cut is a depressed railroad bed which formerly served the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, which runs through the center of 1st Avenue South, below grade, from 20th Street South to 24th Street South. In the early 1990s a produce stand occupied the 20th Street end of the cut. When Compass Bank purchased the adjoining Daniel Building in 1993, it considered paving over the adjacent areas of the cut.

The cut is part of plans for a linear park connecting the Railroad Reservation Park with Sloss Furnace and beyond. It is also at the center of significant recent redevelopment, including the Corporate Realty Building, Jackson Galleries, the Seaboard Yard townhomes, Golden Construction, Williams-Blackstock Architects, and other new or renovated uses along those four blocks.

The presentation of the City Center Master Plan in 2005 showed the possibility of filling the cut to create a tree-lined boulevard. Some residents, vocally represented by then-City Councilor Elias Hendricks, expressed their view that the cut should be preserved for its interpretive and nostalgic value, but "cleaned up" to make it an asset to the area. The Central City neighborhood sponsored a clean-up day for the cut in June, 2005.

In 2012 the 1st Avenue Cut appeared in the master plans for the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System. Later that year the Rotary Club of Birmingham sought to partner with the city, the Freshwater Land Trust, Operation New Birmingham and the Railroad Park Foundation to reclaim the cut as part of a pedestrian and cycling greenway connecting Railroad Park with Sloss Furnaces. Rotary officials dubbed the proposal "Line Park". At the same time, students from Auburn University's Master of Landscape Architecture program participated in an Urban Design Studio focusing on how to re-work the cut as a pedestrian corridor.

East of downtown

Moving east from the 24th Street viaduct the street is home to recent construction on the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad yard and spillover from the adjacent "Design District" around Dr Pepper Place in Lakeview. The 24th Street viaduct and Red Mountain Expressway overpass occasionally shelter small groups of homeless persons. The CSX 32nd Street Yard was active on the south side of the street until 2012. Until then it had often provided a staging area for the Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey's Circus train.

Red Light District

The area around the western ends of the railyards served as Birmingham's Red Light District in the early 20th century.

According to a 1909 report by Mayor George Ward the policy of "Segregation" had a positive effect:

"It has reduced the number of unfortunates in our midst over 75 per cent by driving hundreds away. It has reclaimed every other section of the city from suspicion and contamination. It has made it possible for women and children to go and be seen in every other part of the city at all times without fear of being misunderstood or embarassed. It has done more to prevent thievery, debauchery, and murder; more to prevent insidious temptation; more to reduce licentiousness, incipient and chronic, than can ever by known by the public or the authorities. This district should be regulated sternly; treated fairly; kept in the background, and conditions improved from year to year."1.

The best known house in the district was operated by Blanche Bernard who, banned from soliciting at the Terminal Station instead offered gentlemen a free carriage to their hotel. The catch was that even if their hotel was located just down 5th Avenue North, the carriage would always tarry around the Southside Loop to show off the attractions of the Red Light District. The houses were finally razed in the 1930s.

On the relatively isolated stretch between 35th and 41st Streets there is frequent drag racing in the late evenings. Past 41st Street, 1st Avenue peters out into a local-access street.

East end

1st Avenue South re-appears in downtown Woodlawn. Morse Avenue, now vacated within the Connors Steel plant, was renumbered as a disconnected section of 1st Avenue South.

Georgia Road forks away to the south at 58th Street. The avenue continues underneath I-20 into East Lake and continues through 20 blocks of predominantly residential areas until it is again interrupted by I-59 a few blocks shy of its eastern end at 87th Street.

Notable locations

For an alphabetical list of locations, see the 1st Avenue South category.

North Titusville

Five Points South neighborhood

Southside neighborhood

North Avondale/Southside neighborhood

North Avondale/Forest Park-South Avondale

  • 42nd Street South intersection (south only)

North Avondale/East Avondale

  • 42nd Street South intersection (south only)
  • 44th Street South intersection (north only)

East Avondale

  • 44th Street South intersection (north only)
    • 4500: (road terminus)
    • Road terminus
  • 48th Street South intersection
  • 50th Street South (road terminus)

Woodlawn

South Woodlawn

View looking east from 64th street in 1919

East Lake neighborhood

South East Lake

Notes

  • (Ward - 1909)

References

External links