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Norfolk History


wrldcoupe4

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I wonder if there are examples in the country that has a similar background to Norfolk but was able to bring it back to a vibrant city. I am not familiar with growth and changes of cities over the years (I am an IS guy), so I am not sure if a city’s inner city was basically torn down and rebuilt similar or better?

Another concern is what is the over perception of the mayor and city council, what do they flat out want it (Norfolk) to be? They do a lot of drawings that provides no detail, only pretty pictures. It is important I believe for the city to convey their intentions on a more specific level. I personal feel they do not do this as it might discourage or create animosity with residents who either wish to remain small country vs those who want a more urban lifestyle.

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I fear St Paul's Quadrant will be cheaply constructed in the same fashion as some of the newer apartments in the Freemason Area.

This cheap cookie cutter construction is not just unique to downtown. Take a look at some of ODU's new buildings compared to say Virginia Tech. They get stone ODU gets pre-cast brick stamped concrete. Old Dominion isn't going anywhere, make the buildings so they last.

Totally different situation. They get stone because they have their own quarry they get the stone from. A much cheaper setup than actually having to truck this stuff in. ODU is not afforded this ability and must buy on the open market. With building material prices so high you will continue to see developments like ODU and Freemason across the US. This is not the only area that incorporates this type of construction. It is pretty much across the board nationwide right now. Anything to keep costs down.

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I wonder if there are examples in the country that has a similar background to Norfolk but was able to bring it back to a vibrant city. I am not familiar with growth and changes of cities over the years (I am an IS guy), so I am not sure if a city’s inner city was basically torn down and rebuilt similar or better?

Another concern is what is the over perception of the mayor and city council, what do they flat out want it (Norfolk) to be? They do a lot of drawings that provides no detail, only pretty pictures. It is important I believe for the city to convey their intentions on a more specific level. I personal feel they do not do this as it might discourage or create animosity with residents who either wish to remain small country vs those who want a more urban lifestyle.

That is a tough one to answer because just about every city jumped on the urban renewal bandwagon...if you see any present day city or past photo of a city that just has a sea of parking, that is or was the scars of urban renewal. Same goes for superblocks and large public housing developments.

Houston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cleveland (and most other Ohio cities), probably even Charlotte (though I have never really seen photos of Charlotte before the modern towers were built.) I know here in Portland, urban renewal was controlled to a degree, but we did lose alot of buildings in our oldtown, as well as an entire neighborhood that took up the southern end of downtown (which funny enough is that I live in one of the few surviving houses in that portion of downtown.)

So I guess you could look at any city to see how they handled the effects of urban renewal or how they are still suffering from them. Which I would say my issue with Norfolk is that is wasnt a huge city to begin with so erasing over 80% of downtown was a huge change, which a city like Boston probably removed the same amount of buildings as Norfolk did but in turn only destroyed maybe 20% of their downtown.

Though I have seen some scary shots of Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas that looked like parking lot city, and you know they just mowed down everything in their path regardless of importance or history.

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I agree with this and also feel you might be right about how it turns out...though I hope that the SPQ gets built when the economy in Hampton Roads is on a big upswing because that might push for a more dense district.

My gut says it will turn out as a sea of strip malls like janaf/military with new housing projects and colonial mix like next to macauther

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My gut says it will turn out as a sea of strip malls like janaf/military with new housing projects and colonial mix like next to macauther

Heck no. I want to see a planned Town-Center like development. Mix of residential, office, retail. I wouldn't mind going the DC route and making all buildings the same height. Maybe each building 10 floors tall. There's a potential for GREAT things to happen in the SPQ. The question is..... does the city have the vision that us UP members do..?

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23602_337561794244_128887699244_4753258_7093577_n.jpg

Stole it from AltDaily's facebook.

http://www.facebook....id=128887699244

Will Norfolk ever become that big city that we see in all of thes photos?

You know..The more I see these pictures, the more I see that density>height.

None of these buildings are tall, yet the city looks huge.

I'd love to see Norfolk start to spread out the downtown more with mid-rise buildings.. Like 201 Twenty One. I want Norfolk to be a more urban city...

Edited by varider
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They destroyed it when they had urban renewal. Its almost like getting rid of 50% or more of a city and then waiting for it to restore itself. I FEEL YOU VARIDER. Man, hearing folks older than me tell me about the way the city use to be is sad. Imagine it being urban all the way to Church Street and lined with buildings bro. Like you said, not tall but, urban. City blocks were the norm in the early 1900's until we had urban renewal. When you go downtown and see Granby Street its the last of those city blocks Norfolk use to be made of. Richmond kept there city blocks and though not a lively city it kept its dense city blocks.

I think Norfolk made a mistake in redeveloping there downtown(they should have redeveloped but, planned better). They at the time when building Tidewater/Youngs Park and other projects thought the idea was fresh and would be better for the city(It was at the onset). The projects still exist but, now have held Norfolk back from expanding city blocks!! I see these pictures like you have made and it amazes me to see our city ever looked like that. They could have destroyed those buildings due to no plumbing and other issues and rebuilt those areas on a grid but, decided what we see now outside of the financial district. We need to 1st, and I hate to say it cause Im from a project myself(Diggs Park of Campostella) but, get rid of those projects around downtown. To really make our financial center attractive and BIGGER it will take getting rid of that plaza as well. Somehow retaining the gas station and McDonalds/Popeyes and Firestation. Just bad planning long term. The urban renewal was a fix based on late 1940's-1950's ideas and technology etc.! Your right that is a great picture of what Norfolk use to be in terms of an irban looking city. The buildings now are better and the city is cleaner downtown but, it lost its urban swagger like Baltimore and Richmond have maintained by staying on there grids!! L.G.N.M

Edited by usermel
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The more and more that I think about it.. the more I'm stating to think that we are well on our way to become MORE urban than these photos we are looking at.

During the weekday, Norfolk actually feels like a real city. Feels urban. Smells urban. Looks urban. I don't know why I start to trip whenever I see these photos. Maybe it's just the black and white that gets me?

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No, I think your reaction when you see the old photos is correct. I hear from older folks all the time how much downtown has changed and being 36 remember when folks shopped downtown on Granby for school clothes and also went to the movies there. I was very young then but, remember. The urban flavor we see now is like that of computers/itouches/cellphones/blaclberry's/etc.! Its a good thing these new things and have helped the world so much! That said, what you see in the old pictures is n example of how it was in the past. Remember, then there were NO MALLS. Your view of the world is different due to it being MALLS all your life as well as mine but, when I was younger in the late 1970's early 1980's downtown was still holding on buddy.

Your emotion is telling you how I feel as well. And its saying downtown will be better of long term. I agree, the question is how long will it take to fully recover. On that note hears a sign of change. I use to go to the MALL to shop buddy, I havent been to a MALL to shop for me since I started using the internet! I buy all my goods on line now. First I left downtown shopping for the MALL and now Im leaving the MALL for the interent. My last two MAC's online and itouches for my kid as well as all gifts online. Just another reason downtowns suffer and MALLS will suffer sooner than later with the ease of internet shopping! Downtwons in the early 1900's was were EVERYONE went for a night out in the metro. As VA BEach has grwon with Town Center and the Oceanfront as well and other sections of the beach, the need to go to the financial center of the metro has become less needed.

Your not tripping buddy, you just LOVE were your from and are being positive about the future and thats a good thing. We may never be the same downtown wise due to the developments made in technology(interent/MALLS/Strip MALLS/etc.) and other avenues. The days when dwntown ws the center of it all in the metro are gone but, with new projects like The Westin and The Trader building and Im sure many more projects downtown will be a great place no doubt and I support that! rolleyes.gifcamera.gif

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Funny you mention that it was the invention of the mall that has put downtowns out of business and now the internet is putting malls out of business. I actually think the next phase we will be seeing in this country will be malls becoming downtowns, where the buildings will partially or completely come down to be replaced with urban complexes and connected to rail stations.

The funny thing with malls is that they are often times placed in the right locations to make this transition because they were built with the mindset of being centrally located among the shoppers, with plenty of easy access to get to them (by car of course.)

Which as I say this, we have already started seeing signs of this change happening across the country. Obviously Pembroke Mall will become apart of this trend because of its location. There is a good chance we will eventually see Military Circle Mall take this same path.

All of these changes, I imagine we will see happen within the next 20 years in this country. I already find myself saying "back in my day...." with people now, there is just going to be more things changing in the world in the next 20 years.

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Totally agree with you. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw how much In used the internet for 80% of my purchases. The only thing I dont use it for is food/gas!!! The Mall has become useless for me. For teens I cant call it being Im 36 and dont relate to them at all. Im raising a teen who doesnt ask to go as I did when I was 16. She at 16 and her friends seem to be facebook/twtter/itouch/cellphone/blackberry mummy's! And the Malls will survive based on that generation. Dont get me wrong the MAlls are still being used but, your point was HUGE about what the world will be like in 20 years. SCARY!

You look at our downtown for instance. The MALL destroyed it along with urban flight which is a seldom mentioned cause for the failure of our downtown but, look at Chesapeake,Va Beach and NOW SUFFOLK. These places have grown steadily with people who once lived in the city or close to it. Portsmouth and Norfolk didnt really lose residents because they just left the state. Alot of them just moved to the BIG backyards and front yards of the suburbs. What Norfolk is trying to do id bring it back. The MacArthur Center may have been an attempt at just that. Granby has imporoved in terms of foot traffic as well. We need a REAL plan for downtown and I feel a better variety is whats needed. With so much technology the younger folks(18-34) have much to do without having to worry about how to do it. The internet as we all can say is true has become a meeting place of sorts. Myspace/Facebook/Twitter etc.! And other social sites have cut the need for going out as much to downtowns and WAterside and other places my generation use to meet and great females.

The Mall was THE MEETING spot,hands down. And as my fellow member said, things are just changing and thats a FACT OF LIFE. Heck look at the way the credit card is viewed and how overnight people have resoorted to good old cash more. Evrything must, and will change!!! L.G.N.M

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  • 3 weeks later...

If Norfolk had built on to this instead of tearing down and starting over... Norfolk could easily be a Baltimore right now.

Ok I really don't want to revive this argument again, but let's not dwell on the past. Baltimore went through a similar process of urban renewal that Norfolk did, only thing that gave Baltimore the upper hand was Baltimore had more land. If leaders didn't decide to put that overpass going right through Norfolk's downtown, then we might have had a little bit more land to work with, but that would have left Portsmouth without a good connection to Norfolk. Baltimore put their interstate in a good location because there were too many neighborhoods (Fells Point, Canton, Little Italy) that would have been destroyed if one were constructed. Baltimore's success can be largely attributed to a strategic location in the Northeast megalopolis, situation on the Bay, combined with successful urban renewal. The docks and wharfs that dominated Norfolk's waterfront privatized Norfolk's most beautiful feature, and opening up the waterfront was the only logical course of action, both to clean up the dirty industrial area and to enhance the waterfront so it could be used for public space.

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I cant even recognize Norfolk in these pictures. The only reason I know its Norfolk is the pictures say it is from 1930. Without question the city was dense(not tall building wise but very dense) and I can imagine how much more it was the center of the entire metro then. Its still is the most important city in terms of its financial center though just not as much being Va Beach has came along in the last 30 years! Great pictures and the nostalgic vibe of the pictures almost put me in a time machine state of mind.

Norfolk has changed so much. Some good and some bad. Lets just hope like VBillini13 said, they plan better as Baltimore did the next time renewal is called for. As we all know the Norfolk we see now in 100 or 150 years will need change as well. Better planning would have saved Norfolk but, like VBillini13 said, what would Portsmouths connection to Norfolk be and so many other factors. I can only imagine what Norfolk would lok like now. That said, Norfolk has did a decent job recently(Trader,Wells Fargo,light rail)! GREAT PICTURES VARIDER!!!rolleyes.gif L.G.N.M

Edited by usermel
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I cant ven recognize Norfolk in these pictures. The only reason I know its Norfolk is the pictures say it is from 1930.

If you can't recognize Norfolk, you need to look closer. There are some buildings in the 1920 photo still remaining.

In the lower center portion of the building is a pier with a black roof and two ships moored to it. At the base of that pier is a warehouse. That warehouse was converted to condos back in the early 1980's. Just beyond that is the building we know as the Union Mission. The Freemason area is still recognizable on the left side of the picture, and adjacent to that is the Wainwright Building. To the right of that you can make out the Epley United Methodist Church. So they didn't tear down everything in the name of urban renewal.

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Hey strangers...

Question, something I've somehow never noticed before. In the downtown picture, there is a large high rise, roughly twelve to fifteen stories, diagonally down from the Monticello Hotel and looks to be roughly where the Westin is planned. What is/was that building? How have I never noticed it before is beyond me

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Hey strangers...

Question, something I've somehow never noticed before. In the downtown picture, there is a large high rise, roughly twelve to fifteen stories, diagonally down from the Monticello Hotel and looks to be roughly where the Westin is planned. What is/was that building? How have I never noticed it before is beyond me

Interesting. Is it the building with the pillars? Royster building or something?

There was a tallish building that was blown up in the 90s to make way for MacArthur Center. JcPennys or an insurance company (CMA? something like that) were the names I heard associated to it. It had a microwave horn on it, back when those were in style (before high bandwidth fiber optic glass rules the world.)

AT&T building also had a bunch of microwave horns (for long lines or something) and also I believe was a scopelight radar early warning site. Now it is probably home to a NSA program where they spy on US citizens, (See frontline / Spying on the home front.)

Speaking of history, and not to hijack the tall building. But what is the history of the Wainwright building?

Edited by Telmnstr
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Hey strangers...

Question, something I've somehow never noticed before. In the downtown picture, there is a large high rise, roughly twelve to fifteen stories, diagonally down from the Monticello Hotel and looks to be roughly where the Westin is planned. What is/was that building? How have I never noticed it before is beyond me

This is the building you are referring to.

Main%20St.%20023.jpg

Main%20St.%20057.jpg

Main%20St.%20093%20Color.jpg

This should give some modern day context for the building you are talking about, as well as an idea of what happened to it.

Main%20St.%20098.jpg

This photo just disturbs me.

Main%20St.%20101.jpg

Main St. after urban renewal.

Main%20St.%20105.jpg

This is the end of such a beautiful building, in this photo they are about to strip all the historical content of the building to make it look like all the other "modern" buildings they were building in the city.

Main%20St.%20011.jpg

This is the building that now squats on that same site.

MainStTower.jpg

The Westin site when it was the Greyhound station.

Main%20St.%20083.jpg

(all the photos came from the Norfolk Public Library, except the Main St Tower photo. That photo came from the Divaris website.)

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As much as all that demolition sucks, imagine being a city leader or planner at that time and having the opportunity to develop all of that "virgin" land with the urbanist principles of the time. Yes, some of the effects may have been counter-intuitive, but they were given an opportunity that planners and developers still to this day would absolutely die for.

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(My comments aren't aimed at anyone, just emotional and Im speaking out load,hahahahaha!BEGIN)Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I didnt recognize Norfolk at all from those old pictures. You almost get a weird vibe from the pulse of what the city was from those pictures. Its almost like seeing a part of what Norfolk was and could have been die. Im amazed at the way NOrfolk was density wise and those buildings make me feel like im in Baltimore or Boston. They look historic! Urban renewal looks like a overhaul. Yes, the modern buildings are up to fire safety codes etc., I'm totally understanding why the older buildings went.

I just wish they could have been saved. Most cities as old as Norfolk and with its GREAT history have numerous older buildings that show its pre-modern day history in there downtowns. Man, those pictures dont upset me, they amaze me of were we come from and confuse me as to were we may be going? I love those older picurtes fellow members and could view new ones all day, there great! To all members who find old pictures thanks so much for the research and time put in to show me a 36 year old Norfolk born MAN what the city I care about looked like. I had no idea of the urban look.

Thats what out of towner's who were ex-military tell me all the time about here when Im out for biz in a city and were im from comes up. Some older gentleman always says when I say Im a country boy from VA, they say were are you from? I say Norfolk and they say, Norfolk isnt country Im ex-military and used to have BIG fun there back in the day. They say how its changed alot for good but, seemed to love the old Norfolk!! WOW, great pictures Urbanlife!!! L.G.N.Mrolleyes.gif

Edited by usermel
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....so I'm speechless right now, cause if you're right about the Darth Vader building being built on that site, then I watched the National Commerce building be imploded from the then under construction Norfolk Southern Building. Because I know the building I watched made way for the Darth Vader tower...hm....

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