Chicken Run

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The Chicken Run or Racetrack was a well-known reference to the one-block pedestrian circuit around Block 86 with the highest volume of shops and foot traffic in the 1920s and 1930s.

Prospective visitors to Birmingham for the 1921 Phi Gamma Delta Ekklesia were treated to this unsigned poem in explanation of the phenomenon:

She closes her desk, does Irma Esk,
When all her work is done,
And straightening her clothes and powdering her nose,
She heads for the "Chicken Run".

That guide also explained that, "It's a tradition of the 'Chicken Run' that the way to find your friend is to stand still on one of the four corners. You'll never catch him if you keep moving."

Notable businesses found along the route included Liggett's Drug Store, Porter Clothing Co., Bromberg's, A. & A. Ash Jewelers, Parisian, Walgreen Drug Co., Galax Theatre, Jobe-Rose Jewelry Co., Strand Theatre, Capitol Theatre, Grant's, Silver's, Pizitz, Newberry's, Loveman's, Lane's Drugs, Woolworth's, New Williams, Odum, Bowers & White, Kress, Burger-Phillips, Chandler's and Blach's.

During the Great Depression circling the "chicken run" continued as a popular way to wile away idle hours.


  • "What's To Be Seen in Ekklesia City." (December 1921) The Phi Gamma Delta. Vol. 44, No. 3, p. 242
  • "The Magic City!" (May 22, 1924) In Birmingham This Week, Vol. 3, No. 4