Cobb Lane

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This article is about the city street. For other uses see Cobb Lane (disambiguation).

Cobb Lane is a one-block long cobblestone street located in Southside. The former alleyway runs between 13th and 14th Avenues South, parallel to 19th and 20th Streets South.

Haskins Williams, one of the founders of Birmingham Rail & Locomotive, raised his family in a large home at 1312 20th Street South. After buying a 1919 Dodge sedan, he built an 8-car garage in the alleyway and set his daughter Emily up as landlord, renting out six of the spaces for $7.50 per month. She reduced the fee to $3/month during the Great Depression.

Virginia Cobb moved her children's clothing store and tea room from Cliff Road to the former Levert Apartments, facing the alley, in the 1940s. By that time the alley itself was used as a trash dump. She labored to clean it up and her business evolved into the successful Cobb Lane Restaurant.

The neighborhood itself fell into hard times over the mid-20th century. Emily Haskins Bowman continued to occupy the family home until 1973 when she found a "wino" sleeping on her porch. Antiquarian Malcolm McRae bought the building and shared it with his "Signature House" art gallery. He helped the the Cobb Lane Association to push for public funding for revitalization. The project became the first phase of a larger revitalization of the Five Points South district, organized by Birmingham community planner Ann Adams and funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The renovated streetscape, completed in 1982, was officially named "Cobb Lane" in honor of Virginia Cobb. Since then it has gone through cycles of relative activity and inactivity, anchored by a series of bars and restaurants, and supported by offices, retail shops and event spaces.

Notable Locations

The addresses on Cobb Lane are inconsistent.