Southside

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This article is about the section of Birmingham, for other uses see Southside (disambiguation).

Southside, generally speaking, is the section of Birmingham's City Center which lies south of the Railroad Reservation, which separates it from downtown proper. Originally the name was used more often for the gridded section of streets near the railroad tracks, as distinguished from the residential districts further south on the slopes of Red Mountain. More recently that area has been referred to as "Midtown" to distinguish it from the more vibrant neighborhoods surrounding UAB's campus and the Five Points South entertainment district. Specifically, Southside is defined as one of 23 "Communities" in Birmingham's "Community Participation Program". It includes the Southside, Glen Iris and Five Points South neighborhoods.

The northeast edge of the Southside community reaches as far as 37th Street South where it abuts Forest Park-South Avondale. The boundary jogs to the west alongside the Highland Park neighborhood to the Elton B. Stephens Expressway, which it follows southward to 16th Street South, skirting the Redmont Park neighborhood and crossing the crest of Red Mountain on Richard Arrington Jr Boulevard South to the city's southern edge near Valley Avenue at Vulcan Park. The community extends beyond I-65 on the southwest, abutting Southwest Birmingham and Titusville along the CSX Transportation Railway corridor, which proceeds northeasterly back to the Railroad Reservation at I-65.

History

The South-Side Land Company was a real-estate venture incorporated in September 28, 1886 by John Phelan, William Smith and Richard Bradley. The previously independent town of Highland was annexed into Birmingham in 1893.

A large area of Southside was built up with low-quality housing for African Americans. The district, perceived as a "slum", was targeted for redevelopment in the city's first federally-funded Urban Renewal project. The former residential district was bulldozed and the area used for expansion of the Medical Center, already anchored by the existing Hillman Hospital and Jefferson Tower.

Southside as a distinct cultural or counter-cultural milieu may have peaked in the 1970s after UAB had established itself as a major institution, contributing intellectuals and thousands of students to the area. Numerous artists, writers and photographers gathered around the Five Points area frequenting Gene Crutcher's bookstore and other hip hangouts. This era was eulogized during 2005's "Celebrating Southside" event and continues to be remembered at annual Southside reunions.

See also