East Lake Land Company
The East Lake Land Company was incorporated on July 6, 1886 by James Van Hoose, Robert Jemison Sr and Rufus Hagood. The company held $200,000 in capital and 2,000 acres of land on Village Creek three miles east of Birmingham. They announced plans to subdivide the property into inexpensive residential lots for workingmen's families and to develop a street railroad for transportation and a magnificent East Lake Park featuring a 45-acre lake (originally to be named "Lake Como") fed by Roebuck Spring.
The East Lake Railroad began service on June 14, 1887 and helped make East Lake Park a popular destination for day trips from Birmingham. To attract potential homebuyers the company constructed various recreational facilities in the park, including a resort hotel, a dance pavilion, and pleasure boat docks. Before long the park was a full-fledged amusement center with a Ferris wheel, shooting gallery, and the East Lake Casino theater.
The land company took precautions to avoid having the development fall pray to absentee speculators, interviewing potential buyers to affirm that they and their families would take up residence in East Lake. The lots themselves were made larger than in comparable developments to allow space for kitchen gardens.
East Lake was a successful development and attracted many businessmen as well as working families. A group led by physician Nathaniel Barrett succeeded in seeing the community incorporate as its own municipality, with Barrett its first mayor, in 1900. East Lake was annexed into the City of Birmingham as part of the Greater Birmingham legislation which took effect in 1910.