20th Street North
20th Street North is a north-south street in the center of downtown Birmingham which functions as Birmingham's "main street". It is sometimes called Birmingham Green after a rehabilitation project of the early 1970s.
20th Street begins at the northern end of 20th Street South at the Railroad Reservation. From there it first crosses Morris Avenue, and then continues for seven blocks to Park Place where it is terminated by Linn Park.
Short 20th Street is the one-block section of 20th Street between Birmingham City Hall and Linn Park. It was named Nina's Way in honor of Nina Miglionico in 2008. Originally 20th street bounded both sides of the park as East 20th Street and West 20th Street, but the east segment was abandoned as part of a compromise over the placement of the original Birmingham Public Library building in the late 1920s.
After this one-block section, Twentieth Street previously resumed its path to the east between the current locations of Municipal Auditorium and the Birmingham Museum of Art to the present site of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. After the I-20/59 bridge was built, this section was closed to traffic and eventually converted into a landscaped walk and fountain. There are other short sections of the street in North Birmingham, north of Oak Hill Cemetery and near Finley Boulevard.
20th Street was one of the city's earlier "whiteways" to have electric lighting. The lighting was upgraded and extended past 6th Avenue as far as Woodrow Wilson Park in 1945 under the city's contract with the Birmingham Electric Company.
- 1 Birmingham Green
- 2 Notable Locations (south to north)
- 3 References
- 4 External links
The Birmingham Downtown Improvement Association (BDIA) singled out the beautification of 20th Street as one of its major ambitions when it was formed in 1957. The idea was highlighted in Operation New Birmingham's 1960 recommendations for a "Comprehensive Beautification Program" and reiterated in the 1965 "Design for Progress".
As part of the campaign, Mrs. C. I. Dreyfus of the Birmingham Beautification Board proposed renaming 20th Street to "Vulcan Boulevard". The idea was taken up by businessman Temple Tutwiler, who touted the proposal as late as 1973.
Meanwhile, Tutwiler joined with Reese Murray, Marshall Haynes and Joseph Farley on a volunteer committee to study specific ways to beautify the downtown area. One of their recommendations was to widen sidewalks and add planters and benches to downtown streets, beginning with the seven blocks of 20th Street North, making it more friendly and attractive to pedestrians. New signage, lighting and street furniture would be included in the design. The additional space would be taken from parking and bus lanes, with transit stops moved to 19th Street North.
In 1970, ONB published a "Birmingham Green Plan", according to which $500,000 pledged by business and property owners would be supplemented with equivalent city funds in order to qualify for $1 million in federal grant money. When completed, the $2 million project would also include 19th Street between 1st and 3rd Avenue North and 2nd and 3rd Avenue North between 18th and 21st Street.
Architect James Adams prepared preliminary designs, saying of the proposal "We are knitting the fabric of the central business district with high quality thread -- that thread being the visual impact of the street scene." Planners hoped to attract more people to spend time downtown shopping and strolling. ONB would organize special committees to preserve the budget and to approve the design of specific additions, such as newspaper boxes and telephone booths. W. L. Jenkins designed and built the lighted stars and candy canes which decorated 20th Street in the 1970s. According to a December 1974 Birmingham News photo caption, "Major design companies have tried to hire him, 'But I just do this for fun,' he shrugged."
In January 1971, with only 11 of the 425 business and property owners who had agreed to support the project having contributed their pledges, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development released their grant funds. The 20th Street portion of the Birmingham Green project was dedicated on September 14, 1973 at a cost of $1.9 million. The city carried out additional work over the next two years. Meanwhile, building owners leveraged the public investment in streetscaping by making improvements to their properties. B. A. Monaghan began a major renovation of the Nabers, Morrow & Sinnige building at 109–111 20th Street North in 1973.
Notable Locations (south to north)
For an alphabetical list of locations, see the 20th Street North category.
- West side (Block ___)
- East side (Block ___)
- West side (Block ___)
- East side (Block ___)
- West side (Block 99)
- 100-110: Empire Building, former Colonial Bank offices and site of Bank Saloon, Piccadilly restaurant
- 1st Alley North
- 112: Birmingham Trust building
- 114½: former location of Umbels & Robinson barbers
- 116: former location of Snow & Rambow Saloon
- 124: Webb Building (former site of the Dude Saloon, National Shirt Shop, Yogo's Frosty Frozen Yogurt, Purple Onion, and Pope Jewelers)
- East side (Block 100)
- 101-107: Brown Marx Building (former site of National Bank of Birmingham building)
- 109–11: Nabers, Morrow & Sinnige building, Advantage Marketing Communications, Engel Hairston & Johanson, former location of Nabers, Morrow & Sinnige drugstore and Thompson's Cafeteria
- 1st Alley North
- 113: Cafe Dupont (former location of 20th Century Bakery)
- 117: former location of Hickman's Kerns Sporting Goods and King Tut Deli
- 117½: former location of Hot Dog King, now incorporated into the entrance to 119
- 119: McKinney-Strahan residence, former location of Utopia Cleaners and Household Finance
- 121: Tau Poco, former location of New York Style Delicatessen, Jaffe Jewelry, Stand N' Snack/Sandwich Chef
- 123: Bromberg's building (Bromberg's offices), former location of the Drennen's department store and Stein's Mens' Clothiers
- West side (Block 86)
- 200: Roden Block (Paramount, former location of Liggett's, Parisian)
- 202: former location of Watts Apparel Shop
- 204: former location of Subway Restaurant and Betty Maid Dresses
- 206: former location of Hanover Jewelry
- 208: Joseph McClure Commercial Real Estate (former location of T. L. McGowan & Co. (c. 1889) and W. L. Douglass Shoes
- 210: former location of Sherman's Lanes
- 2nd Alley North
- 212: Iron Age building (former location of Faust Cafe, Mitzi Dress Shop and Thom McAn Shoes)
- 214: Brick & Tin, former location of Princess Theatre, Busch's Jewelry and Burt's Shoes
- 216: Quizno's Sub, former location of Burt's Shoe Store
- 218: Bistro 218, former location of a boarding house, barber shop, candy store, Bromberg's, Parisian, Hanover Shoes, and Seafood D'Lite
- 220: Farley Building (Classic Basket), former location of Liggett's Drugs
- 224: former location of Shaw & Davin equipment dealers
- East side (Block 85)
- 201: Frank Nelson Building, Whiteboard It. Former location of A. & A. Ash Jewelers , Birmingham School of Law, and Woodruff Manufacturing Company, former location of Norton Drug Store
- 203: former location of Flagg Bros. Shoe Store
- 207: Trattoria Centrale (former location of Roma's Italian Bistro)
- 209: former location of United Woolen Mills Clothing Co.
- 211: former location of Royal Hat Co.
- 2nd Alley North
- 213: Cityscape Group, former location of Mayo's Mens' Clothes
- 213½: Hill Sign Co.
- 215: former location of Alabama Paper Company
- 217: former location of O. K. Barber Shop, Strauss Mens' Clothes, Wormser Hat Store, Orange Julius and Sojourns
- 219: Bon Ton Hatters, former location of Studio Book Store and Thom McAn Shoes
- 221: Urban Studio, former location of MedTown Pharmacy, Porter's clothing, and Shoney's Big Boy
- 225: former location of the Stag Saloon, Patterson's Cigars
- West side (Block 73)
- 300: Hood Building/Blach's building (1890) former location of Hood-Yeilding General Merchandise Store (1890-1910), Bencor Hotel (1910-1935), Hardin's Coneys, Butler's Shoe Store, Wallock's, Blach's (1936-1980s), Blach's Lofts (2007-), MBA Structural Engineers
- 302: former location of Lollard's, Lollar's Cameras and Terreson's photo printing
- 304: former location of Bronax Jewelers, Reed Lawson Jeweler
- 308: former location of Jarman Shoes, Sommer Co. tailor
- 3rd Alley North
- 312: former location of Warner-Smiley Company undertakers
- 314: former location of Lindy Jewelry
- 316: former location of Faust Cafe and Odum's mens' clothing
- 318: former location of Farmer & Cannon Jewelry Company
- 330: former location of Linville/Southern Hotel, Norton's Drug Store, Lane's Drug Store and Hardy Shoe Store
- East side (Block 74)
- 301: Watts Building (1927), People's Finance & Thrift, Renasant Bank branch; former site of Watts Building (1888-1926)
- 303: former location of Easonville Creamery, Regal Shoes, Wells Co. clothing
- 305: former location of L & N Railroad ticket office, hotel
- 307: former location of Casino Cafe
- 309: former location of Britling Cafeteria No. 2
- 3rd Alley North
- 313: Roly Poly Sandwiches (former location of Alabama Heating & Roofing and the Gaslight Theatre)
- 315: former location of Eleanor's Cards
- 317: former Birmingham Green Postal Station
- 321: former location of Taylor Optical Co., Java and Jams, and Razzleberries
- 323: former location of Ford's Clothes
- 323-5: Jimmy John's sandwich shop; former location of Busch's jewelers, McDonald's, Salsa and Sabor, El Mexicano, and Bayou Deli
- West side (Block 60)
- 400: Clark Building, former location of Smith & Hardwick and Birmingham Press Club
- 402: former location of Charles Arndt, clothiers
- 404: former location of A. C. Keily's photo studio and Mehr's Music Store & Novelty Shop
- 408: former location of Peerless Laundry
- 410: former location of Harris Florist
- 4th Alley North
- 412: former location of Joy Young Restaurant
- 420: Wells Fargo Tower, (formerly SouthTrust Tower and Wachovia Tower), Maki Fresh, former location of People's Finance & Thrift Co.
- 422: former location of Carr Floral Company
- 424: former location of shooting gallery, Krystal hamburgers, Jefferson Federal Savings and Loan Association branch
- East side (Block 59)
- West side (Block 47)
- 500 Regions Center (formerly AmSouth-Sonat building), former location of Southern Club and Works Progress Administration. Former location of Occupy Birmingham's "Camp Mayhem"
- 502: former location of Birmingham Athletic Club and YMCA Birmingham
- 5th Alley North
- 530: Regions-Harbert Plaza (formerly AmSouth-Harbert Plaza)
- East side (Block 48)
- West side
- East side
- 20th Street shifts west, becomes known as Nina's Way (formerly Short 20th Street)
- end of this section of 20th Street
- "Whitson's Tenant Map of Birmingham" (1930s) compiled, published and periodically revised by Bethel W. Whitson Organization, engineers, surveyors and mapmakers for the Jemison Real Estate Service (Jemison Realty Co., Inc.)
- "New look for our big town" (August 18, 1970) Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce (1976) Century Plus: A Bicentennial Portrait of Birmingham, Alabama 1976 Birmingham: Oxmoor Press, p. 16.