3rd Avenue North

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3rd Avenue North, looking east from 18th Street in October 1972
3rd Avenue North, looking northeast from 21st Street, c. 1911

Third Avenue North is an east-west street running through downtown Birmingham. The westernmost section by that name ends at Center Street, although the road continues further west as 3rd Avenue West. The easternmost section ends at 88th Street, just west of Roebuck Municipal Golf Course.

Third Avenue is continuous from Center Street to Carraway Boulevard (formerly 26th Street North). At that point, it is interrupted by the 2nd Avenue North off-ramp of the Elton B. Stephens Expressway and railroad tracks. The road is one way eastbound from 9th to 26th Street North. There is a short segment of 3rd on the west side of 28th Street North. The next segment curves from 29th Street northward to line up with 31st Street North across Messer Airport Highway.

The avenue does not appear again eastward until Forest Hills Cemetery next to the I-20/I-59 interchange. At this point, Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North (formerly 10th Avenue North), becomes 3rd Avenue. Third then continues northeast with some gaps, notably at Trotwood Park, I-59, and East Lake Park, to 88th Street.

The two-way portion of 3rd Avenue from Center Street to 9th Avenue is five lanes wide. The one-way portion is four lanes from 9th to 14th Street North and three lanes from 14th to between 24th and 25th Street. At this point, the left lane becomes an on-ramp for the Elton B. Stephens Expressway. Throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s, this on-ramp was the northernmost point to get on the expressway as it did not connect to I-20/I-59 at that time. Third Avenue continues as two lanes under the expressway to Carraway Boulevard. The rest of the road segments east of here are two lanes as well.

History

The initial commercial expansion on 3rd Avenue took place on the south side of the street during the 1880s between 20th and 21st Streets. Third Avenue was also where the first two county courthouses in Birmingham were built (at 21st Street). The courthouse attracted other development to the intersection where it was located, such as the Title Guaranty Building.

Three stores on the north side of the 1800 block (Block 72), modernized in 1961, were damaged in a major fire on the evening of December 17, 1970.

The first section of 3rd Avenue North to be converted from two-way to one-way (eastbound) traffic was from 14th Street North to Red Mountain Expressway. The one-way section was expanded westward to 9th Street North in 1973 by the Alabama Department of Transportation's TOPICS (Traffic Operations Program to Increase Capacity and Safety) program.

Notable locations

For an alphabetical list of locations, see the 3rd Avenue North category.

Smithfield neighborhood

Fountain Heights

11th Street North

12th Street North

13th Street North

14th Street North

15th Street North

16th Street North

Pantages Theatre in 1945

17th Street North

Parisian in the 1920s
The Lyric Theatre in 1930

18th Street North

Central City

The Farley Building at 3rd & 20th

19th Street North

The Empire Theater in 1981

20th Street North

21st Street North

22nd Street North

23rd Street North

24th Street North

25th Street North

References

  • White, Marjorie Longenecker, ed. (1980) Downtown Birmingham: Architectural and Historical Walking Tour Guide, second edition. Birmingham: Birmingham Historical Society.
  • R.L. Polk & Co. (1919) "R.L. Polk & Co.'s Birmingham City Directory"
  • Polk's Birmingham (Jefferson County, Ala.) City Directory (1964) Richmond, Virginia: R. L. Polk & Co.

External links

3rd Avenue North on Google Maps