Birmingham city center street grid
The Birmingham city center street grid refers to the layout of the numbered streets and avenues in the Birmingham city center. The original layout of the blocks comprising Birmingham's earliest development was drafted for the Elyton Land Company by William Barker.
Due to local geography and the development of communities that were originally independent of Birmingham, the boundary of the grid is very irregular. The main portion, bounded by 12th Avenue North to the north, 32nd Street to the east, University Boulevard (8th Avenue South) to the south, and Interstate 65 (between 10th and 11th Streets) to the west, remains largely intact, except for a series of vacated rights-of-way creating "superblocks" within the UAB campus.
The designating division of the city center is roads north of the Railroad Reservation and those south of it. However, to match the angle of the railroad tracks, the street grid is actually rotated approximately 25° west of due north. This means that the north-south streets run closer to NNW-SSE while the east-west avenues are closer to ENE-WSW. Where the grid has been disrupted or become irregular and an extra north-south street has been inserted, it is typically referred to as a "place", although sometimes "way" is also used. Likewise, where an extra east-west avenue has been inserted, it is typically referred to as a "court", although sometimes "lane" or "terrace" is used. Starting in Woodlawn and continuing into the East Lake community, Division Avenue takes the place of the railroad tracks as the north-south dividing line.
Rather than being numbered, the two avenues closest to the Railroad Reservation were named for two of Birmingham's founders: Morris Avenue (for Josiah Morris) to the north and Powell Avenue (for James Powell) to the south. The rest of the avenues are numbered, beginning with 1st Avenue North, the next avenue north of Morris, and 1st Avenue South, the next avenue south of Powell. Originally the southern avenues were lettered, starting with Avenue A (now 1st Avenue South). Alleyways divide blocks parallel to the avenues and are numbered according to the lower of the adjacent avenues.
After the Greater Birmingham annexation in 1910, many roads in the formerly independent municipalities were renamed to match the central numbered street grid. While often connected to it, these roads are not always at the same angle as the central grid. In addition, some numbered roads have been renamed to honor individuals or institutions, typically with a "boulevard" designation (e.g. Richard Arrington, Jr Boulevard) regardless of whether they are oriented east-west or north-south.
The east-west division is based on Center Street, which is in the Smithfield community, almost two miles west of the city center. 20th Street North and South act as the central north-south thoroughfare through the city center. West of Center Street, both streets and avenues are designated as "west" if they are north of Valley Creek, while roads south of the creek are designated "southwest".
- Fazio, Michael W. (2010) Landscape of Transformations: Architecture and Birmingham, Alabama. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press ISBN 9781572336872