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From the 10th. floor of the Algonquin house off North Shore. Overlooking the Lafayette River.

This is exactly how I remembered Downtown Norfolk when I was in College around 1982.  The Trailways bus station was in the foreground and Waterside was under construction.  This was the dawn of the re

Downtown Norfolk 1955.

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I always wondered this. Norfolk was dense but unlike the northeast cities never went up high building wise in the early 1900's. I always wondered why that is. I also see why it was different then as opposed to now. There were no malls and no strip malls etc.! If you wanted certain items you had to go to town/city! It's great when you think bout how Norfolk has grown. Has it been rapid? No but, these pictures supply a mirror into the change the city has had. They basically tore down the city and rebuilt it.

WoW, the more we convo about the city/area and show pictures of the past its clear that Norfolk has at least tried to step up and make Norfolk more appealing. Give Norfolk time, I think the city one day will turn the corner and be a top US city> Now we have a growing city and thats a GREAT sign. Id rather be part of change than no changes at all. Great pictures!! L.G.N.Mshades.gif

From what I can tell in 1920 Norfolk had a population of just over 115,000 and the Southside was probably no more that 250,000 people. Which at that time the Southside was basically Norfolk as the main city, Portsmouth as the second city (I am guessing a population about half of Norfolk's), then the rest of the Southside was a collection of small towns and county land which was mostly just forest and farm land. There really wasnt any of that push for any massive urban growth because it was really a small metro at that time.

What is interesting is why the city jumped aboard the urban renewal. Obviously the moves the city were racially motivated, which made sense at the time for the city to wish to remove large areas of "slum housing" downtown then relocate them to more quarantined areas that Norfolk has now, but what baffles me to no end is the number of key pieces of architecture the city was willing to tear down. Even if just those stronger pieces of architecture survived, it would of been able to better paint a picture of what Norfolk's past life was like.

I think from all of this, I would love to see Norfolk reinvest itself within its own history. A Museum of Norfolk History is definitely needed, maybe have the museum be the focus point of the new Saint Paul Quadrant. That way Norfolk could still have a close tie to its own past, show the mistakes that were made along with the historical content of why such choices were made, the important figures that shaped the city's history, a strong understanding on the city's black community and black history. From this, key speakers could help bring life to the history of the city. Just because the old Norfolk is gone doesnt mean the city should ignore its own past.

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From what I can tell in 1920 Norfolk had a population of just over 115,000 and the Southside was probably no more that 250,000 people. Which at that time the Southside was basically Norfolk as the main city, Portsmouth as the second city (I am guessing a population about half of Norfolk's), then the rest of the Southside was a collection of small towns and county land which was mostly just forest and farm land. There really wasnt any of that push for any massive urban growth because it was really a small metro at that time.

What is interesting is why the city jumped aboard the urban renewal. Obviously the moves the city were racially motivated, which made sense at the time for the city to wish to remove large areas of "slum housing" downtown then relocate them to more quarantined areas that Norfolk has now, but what baffles me to no end is the number of key pieces of architecture the city was willing to tear down. Even if just those stronger pieces of architecture survived, it would of been able to better paint a picture of what Norfolk's past life was like.

I think from all of this, I would love to see Norfolk reinvest itself within its own history. A Museum of Norfolk History is definitely needed, maybe have the museum be the focus point of the new Saint Paul Quadrant. That way Norfolk could still have a close tie to its own past, show the mistakes that were made along with the historical content of why such choices were made, the important figures that shaped the city's history, a strong understanding on the city's black community and black history. From this, key speakers could help bring life to the history of the city. Just because the old Norfolk is gone doesnt mean the city should ignore its own past.

I'm guessing you guys learned that type of stuff as a student, because when a building is torn down these days, I do not think of preserving history. I just think about a building that is old being torn down. It isn't until you go to other cities and notice these things. What baffles me the most about our lost past is, the lack of progress we have made over the decades from that. I guess the bones of the city are nice, but the facade in terms of time lapse stinks. 10 years ago, Norfolk was pointing towards a dramatic change, then about 3 years ago, it came to a screeching halt. We talk a lot about why, the economy of the last couple of years, and a few other things. But I think the key to why the city stop on the dime in terms of growing, at least the last 4 years was due to lack of planning. Yes, I think things were getting built, but without direction or a picture. I think that's were they got burned. Examples of this is:

1. Condos over top of clubs - Station 2 was a good example of how a business was oust due to lack of planning

2. Waterside lack of help/vision - All this talk about how the clubs brought down the place, HA now the clubs are gone and its still a dump. But no one was willing to look through the fluff to notice that there were other issues at waterside/Norfolk other than the clubs

3. A good portion of the city is/was left to deteriorate - Examples, Huntersville, Parkplace, and my favorite, Wards Corner*******

Outside of businesses trying to turn a small profit, Norfolk in terms of growth in my opinion has been stagnate. Over the years, the other cities citizens have painted Norfolk in a terrible light, a lot of it is self deserved. With the emergence of these town centers, I see a serious up hill climb considering we do not have a true DT.

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We just don't have good jobs here. It's probably the psyche of the average residents. People here don't do anything. Maybe it's because gov't jobs breeds followers not leaders. I dunno what the reason is, but this area is crap compared to others.

The rapid expansion the past few years happened everywhere. It wasn't just Hampton Roads, and it happened much more in other markets. Miami got themselves some 10+ years of extra unused condos in just a few short years of speculators waiting in tents to buy a place to flip.

Buildings are nice, but at the end of the day the underlying fundamentals of the area are weak.

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We just don't have good jobs here.

You have a point here. Maybe they need to focus on cost of living....? I do not believe F500 companies will relocate here in the near future, so why not concentrate on it in that aspect. Personally, I believe if the city would takea stand on something, the city would be that much better. Like a commitment clean up the neighborhoods, crimes, or schools. They do not stand firm on anything around here other than giving money away to developers and consultants who give them false dreams.

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You have a point here. Maybe they need to focus on cost of living....? I do not believe F500 companies will relocate here in the near future, so why not concentrate on it in that aspect. Personally, I believe if the city would takea stand on something, the city would be that much better. Like a commitment clean up the neighborhoods, crimes, or schools. They do not stand firm on anything around here other than giving money away to developers and consultants who give them false dreams.

Very true. Pushing hard to clean up all neighborhoods would go a long way.

Some of the roads are atrocious. Between the vehicle break ins and the roads, it's like my car has aged 6 years in 1.5

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great picture, WOW lots of change since 1992! The BIG, no Huge ship number 66 is BIGGER than downtown! HAHAHAHA! WOW, we have made some progress downtown. Seeing the skyline improve means more jobs downtown at least, hahahaha! One things for sure, Granby Street is much better now than it was in 1992 and Nauticus has been a bright spot for downtown as well and the Cruise ship terminal as well is a bright spot. Norfolks downtown has increased in downtown residential living as well. Its starting to fill in quite well and these pictures show the growth over the last 17-18 years clearly.

Great Picture Spiker3!!! L.G.N.Mshades.gif

Edited by usermel
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Yeah to both comments above! The picture is most likely older than 1992 now that I think about it but, certainly in the mid to late 1980's. And there are so many empty spots as well. When you grow up in a place only pictures can display what has changed as time goes on. These pictures at the very least display what good Norfolk has done instead of the bad.

Its clear downtown has very little room to grow from these pictures. They have to grow beyond traditional downtown Norfolk and this means expanding beyond were it has. Seeing the new Wells Fargo/Wachovia building away from the rest kind of starts the spread away from the front of downtown close to the water! The growth is certainly seen from this picture. And some of these buildings don't exist anymore. WOW, growth and time. From full head of hair in these pictures to a few gray hairs. WOW, TIME FLIES BY NO MATTER YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES! Oh well, let's hope the growth continues! L.G.N.Mshades.gifshades.gif

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Found this from looks like 1992? Nauticus is just starting construction and I think opened up in 93? Long way in 17 years

USS_America_CV-66_Norfolk.png

Some random comments:

CV 66 was the USS America, one of the last non-nuclear carriers and the last supercarrier not named for a person. After decommissioning, she was used for target practice and then scuttled off Cape Hatteras in 2005.

For an idea on the date of the photo, note that the Norfolk Southern Tower is not yet shown. Groundbreaking for Norfolk Southern Tower was in 1986. The tower opened in 1988. Town Point Center at Bousch and Plume also is not shown. It is about two years older than Norfolk Southern. So the photo was taken before 1985.

Notice that both Waterside and the World Trade Center Building expanded after this photo was taken.

The surface parking lots in the middle of the photo are on the site that became MacArthur Mall. Some posters at Urban Planet have lamented the loss of the urban street grid because of the mall. Before the mall, we had a distinct urban grid, but it was merely streets separating parking lots. The city tried for years to find a developer to develop what was then known simply as "the 17 acres". They wanted a single developer to develop the entire site, instead of developing it piecemeal. They were not successful in finding a developer with the means to develop the entire site, so they turned to Tishman to develop an upscale mall.

The federal building, at Granby Street and City Hall Avenue, was red brick. It was bright red, and ugly. It also leaked. So the feds replaced the brick with white precast concrete panels. The contractor had to do the work with the building still occupied. They paid millions for that project.

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My guess is 1980. Which still shows monumental progress and our downtown has filled in nicely. The above picture is a lame excuse for a downtown and looks like it didn't even have the density to give one a "city" or urban feel like our current DT can. My parents tell me of a DT with like 3 restaurants and a convenient store. Norfolk has risen from the dead, and has become the cultural center of VA.. and is well on it's way to becoming the premier city of the state.

27070_1325572668559_1508188734_30997151_8201100_n.jpg

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And the correct answer to the question of what year was this photo taken is......drum roll please......1983!!!-ish....maybe 1984 at the latest.

That comes from some research, the World Trade Center was completed in 1983, with the addition completed three years later. Which this would mean that construction on the addition was a two year process like most major construction projects are, therefore only a small window would be available for this photo. Also on the Bank of America building hangs the National Virginia Bank logo (or is it Virginia National Bank? either way, it was the bank that helped establish Bank of America.) The Sovran Bank logo that hung on the Bank of America building didnt go up until 1985. Which again, this means that this photo was taken some time between late 1983 and early to mid 1984. Also, it looks like there is plenty of people at Waterside and there looks to be some sort of concert set up, so I would say this is even a spring or early summer photo as well.

So we are looking at 25 years worth of growth respectively, which is still pretty impressive for a city that basically killed its own downtown. Though I still wish Norfolk was the Little Boston or the Little San Francisco of Virginia, but one can always dream....or live in Boston or San Francisco of course. :whistling:

Definitely a great find spiker3.

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My guess is 1980. My parents tell me of a DT with like 3 restaurants and a convenient store. Norfolk has risen from the dead, and has become the cultural center of VA.. and is well on it's way to becoming the premier city of the state.

Well my parents haven't even been downtown at all since the 1980s...seriously. So I continue to hear the rhetoric of how decrepit and dangerous downtown still is! They are bamboozled as to why I would want to be a city planner in Norfolk rather than VB. Some folks will never change!

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WOW, its shows how bad it was then. If it spooks them out that bad it must have been a rough downtown, thats for certain buddy. Its nice now, and even better than it was when I used to shop on Granby Street for clothes as a child, not alot of clothes because the money was low then but, some clothes at least. HAHAHAHA!!! L.G.N.Mshades.gifshades.gif

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'll second that the old-school downtown picture is from 1983-84. The plot of land just above the World Trade Center is where the Main Street parking garage now lies.

Also, on the far left, right above where Nauticus currently sits is a building under construction. Those are condos.

Both opened in 1984.

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  • 7 months later...

Those pictures run a chill down my spine, in a good way! I was thinking why cities look better in old photos as opposed to now. Then, cities were the place to get all we needed. Early 20th century America didnt have what we call suburbs. There were no strip malls or shopping malls. Shopping and everything significant was done in the city. That means a more urban Norfolk in terms of density as well as character. These old pictures show a Norfolk unfamiliar in this modern world were we put malls downtown now. Think about it! Suffolks downtown use to be were those in Suffolk went as was the case for Portsmouth as well. Yes, Im sure Suffolk folks went to Norfolk also and Portsmouth folks alike but, downtowns in individual cities use to serve the purpose of being the center of the cities were they were and are located.

The malls and strip malls and suburbs are what changed downtowns forever just like Wal-Mart and other BIG name retail stores and fast food eateries almost totally destroyed mom and pop stores and eateries in cities and downtowns. How many of us go the the local store for clothes owed by a local or go to a locally owned eatery? Some of us do still but, these pictures show a time when owning a business was profitable and a way to truly make it if the product was good. These pictures remind me of a time when though socially America had issues, America had a innocence as well and as our country grew up we lost our souls to the suburbs and Chuck E.Chesses and Chick Fil A's and multiplex theatre's! LOVE THESE PICTURES! LGNMshades.gifshades.gif

Edited by usermel
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The VNB Building gives the date away. Virginia National Bank merged with F&M in 1983 to create Sovran Bankshares. The VNB logo is still on the building. They installed the Sovran signage in the Fall of 84. Also, the WTC garage is not up yet. That also commenced in the Fall of 84 (and took forever to complete)...I'll date it late1983ish. Awesome pic. You are correct, we have come a long way !

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downtown was definitely a shell of its former self in the early 80s, what can't be seen in this photo is West Freemason and how much of that area was destroyed in the process as well...though the West Freemason area I am not as sure about the history of that area because the southern portion of that neighborhood is mostly landfill and I am pretty sure was mostly industry warehouses and such.

In regards to where Norfolk was in 1984, the city has come a long way from the damages it has inflicted on itself.

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