Richard Arrington Jr Boulevard
Richard Arrington Jr Boulevard is the name given to a stretch of streets through Birmingham from Vulcan Park on Red Mountain to the Forest Hill Cemetery in Woodlawn. The name was applied by the Birmingham City Council to honor Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr at the time of his retirement in 1999.
Councilman Aldrich Gunn entered the resolution to dedicate a route which included parts of three other streets in honor of Arrington on July 13, 1999. It passed in that meeting and a mocked-up street sign was unveiled later the same afternoon at a ceremony in Patton Park.
In the Summer of 2000 the city submitted the name change to the United States Postal Service, which gave property owners along the route 6 months to notify correspondents before their forwarding order would expire and mail to the former addresses would be returned to sender.
Numerous businesses effected by the change petitioned the Council to consider making the change honorary, with dual signage (similar to 8th Avenue South/University Boulevard). Councilors Gunn and Sandra Little refused to compromise, casting aspersions of racism against the objectors. The conflict escalated to the point where organized pickets were directed against some businesses who had protested the change. The May 8, 2001 Council meeting was suspended so that Councilors could join a motorcade protesting the businesses' request.
Sixteen businesses filed a lawsuit claiming that the change was made without required public notice, without public hearings or due process and citing damages totaling over $400,000 for new stationery, signage, marketing materials, communication with correspondents and re-filing of paperwork. The issue dragged on, with the businesses continuing to petition the Council, which set aside numerous agenda items to settle the issue. Ultimately the businesses dropped the lawsuit after reaching an agreement with the postal service to continue delivering mail to their old addresses.
- Note: for addresses along the route, see the individual articles linked below.
- Richard Arrington, Jr Boulevard South:
- 18th Street South from Valley Avenue at the Homewood city limit north to the fork at 16th Avenue South
- 21st Street South from 16th Avenue South north to the Railroad Reservation, on the Rainbow Viaduct
- Richard Arrington, Jr Boulevard North:
- 21st Street North from the Railroad Reservation north to the BJCC
- 10th Avenue North from the BJCC east to the I-20/59 overpass at Church Street in Woodlawn, where it becomes 3rd Avenue North, passing south of Forest Hill Cemetery.
- Reynolds, Ed (May 1, 2001) "Preachers threaten Arrington Boulevard businesses." Black & White
- Geiss, Chuck (May 10, 2001) "Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard." Black & White
- Reynolds, Ed (July 3, 2001) "Peace on Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard." Black & White
- Arrington, Richard (2008) There's Hope for the World. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 081731623X