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DruidCity

A dozen Tuscaloosa neighborhood photos

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Not much to look at, but I found that my old Polaroid had a little film left, so ...

I'll start with the "Amsouth 4:20" mural at the Roly Poly fast-food place at Temerson Square downtown :

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Here's the view from Temerson Square, looking south along 23rd Avenue downtown at the half-dozen two-level bars and restaurants in the old Belk-Hudson building. The area is generally much busier in the evening. The largest of the restaurants is Mellow Mushroom (with the balcony), and on the far left is 4th-and-23rd, a blues-and-jazz place frequented by the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Society. Although Tuscaloosa doesn't have a "music scene" as such, past Tuscaloosa-area residents were reasonably successful blues performers, such as Walter Roland, Dinah Washington, Johnny Shines, and Eddie Hinton ...

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Here's a suburban-style home just within the northern edge of the Tuscaloosa city limits north of the river, basically in the middle of the woods, up a two-lane road :

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The Highlands is a "streetcar-suburb-style-subdivision," about a mile from downtown. You can see the grooves in concrete University Blvd where the old streetcars ran, even though they ceased operation many decades ago.

The Highlands is across US 82 from DCH (the main hospital), across University Blvd from the nascent DCH medical park, and catty-cornered from the University of Alabama. To the east of the Highlands are Partlow (statewide facility for the mentally retarded), West Alabama Fairgrounds, and a neighborhood known as Alberta City.

Alberta has never been a "city," and Tuscaloosa city officials have tried to rebrand the area as just plain "Alberta," but locals call it "Alberta City," anyway. Alberta was really run down, with drugs, prostitution, etc. The city decided to do something about the problem. Within the last couple of years, there has been over $15-million of public and private funds to improve Alberta. The area now seems much, much safer, and is anchored by a new Alberta Elementary School. Over 3/4 of its students walk to school. An empty metal prefab warehouse is currently getting a "makeover" with brick facade to become a home furnishings store.

West of US 82, University Blvd "splits" into University Blvd (5th street) and Bryant Drive (10th street) through the university and downtown.

One odd bit about Tuscaloosa is that you'll often find "nice areas" and "poor areas" in close proximity. Such is the case with The Highlands, an area with homes for doctors, professors, and other middle-to-upper-middle class residents, being so close to poor-to-middle class Alberta.

I should've taken a lot more photos of The Highlands, because all the houses there are interesting, and there are varied styles.

During the holiday season, one home lights a 30+ foot Christmas tree.

Here's a couple of Highlands photos :

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Next to the University of Alabama in the "Strip" area, within walking distance of downtown-area historic neighborhoods, is this Publix grocery, which will open in June. That's a student apartment building to the left. The Publix replaces an old church student activity center, which was abandoned years ago because of a fire.

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Queen City Avenue (named after an old rail connection to Cincinnati) is one of Tuscaloosa's most interesting streets, and has been an unofficial eastern boundary of downtown since the 1800s. The portion between 4th and 14th streets is sometimes called the "downtown-area historic neighborhoods." From 4th down the hill to the river is mostly parkland. Queen City Park is largely undeveloped, but the 13-acre park does include the municipal library and an art deco poolhouse that has been empty for 15 years. There's some talk of revitalizing the old park and structure.

15th street is an unofficial southern boundary of downtown, creating an area known as "southside" south of 15th. Southside is also old and has a grid dating to the 1800s. Though somewhat poor and industrial, southside does feature the local train station, an 80-year-old furniture store, and a breakfast place called the Waysider that has been around for decades.

Anyway, Queen City Avenue terminates at the Drish House (1835) at 17th street: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~lelandva/drish.html

Early this morning, I snapped a few shots along Queen City Avenue, between 8th and 13th. I hope to get to some more of those old neighborhoods down to 4th in the future.

Heading north from 15th street, the first neighborhood on your right is Dearing Place. Between the home in the photo and 15th is a 12-acre property that used to be an elementary school.

The city plans to demolish the school & develop the 12-acre property as an "English country-style park." Work is expected to commence later this year.

Note the wedge-shaped median with the shrubbery, maintained by the city.

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I took the above photograph from the corner of the Dearing-Swaim House (1835) sidewalk. The house, with 19" thick walls, is still in use as a single-family residence. Note the peacock topiaries. I was a bit too early with my photo, but in season, these are packed with attractive bedding plants.

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From the same position, faced the other direction, I took a shot of one of Tuscaloosa's oldest businesses, Sam Jackson's Emporium, established in 1914. Like the median mentioned above, the Emporium is wedge-shaped. The front doors used to be the doors to the First Methodist church downtown. It's a weird little shop, with items ranging from dollar trinkets to collectible items valued at $20,000. Old ladies seem to like the place a lot.

Mr. Sam, as he's known, is quite the character. Despite his advanced age and the fact that he's legally blind, he's very much in charge & still takes buying trips across the country and to Europe. As you can tell by the empty parking lot, I took my photos well before the shop opened for the day.

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Alaca Place is another of the old neighborhoods within a block or so. There's a variety of styles of homes, including some from the 1800s. A few of the homes are fairly large (5,000sqft+), but others are middle-class, like the following :

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The other of the old "wedge-shaped" businesses in the median is Abernathy's Grocery, established in 1933 and still owned by the family. It's between 10th (Bryant Drive) and 11th along Queen City Avenue. There are very few parking places for "The Biggest Little Grocery Store in Town," but it's very convenient for the adjacent neighborhoods. Occasionally, supposedly more progressive places in the state and even our own locals sometimes put down "backwards" Tuscaloosa and its admittedly weak downtown, yet if there's a "silver lining" to our "lack of progress," it is that we still have a few of those "Mom & Pop" stores that aren't supposed to exist anymore.

The brown brick structures seen to the left are new infill construction by the Tuscaloosa Homebuilders Association.

abernathy.jpg

Here's the house where my mother grew up (and where my grandmother lived through the mid-1980s), on 8th street, off of Queen City Avenue, and the adjacent duplex apartment that my grandfather built and my grandmother rented out until she died in the 1980s. 8th street has a clear view of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and is well-positioned for pedestrians, as university and downtown areas are within easy reach. Since the beginning, 8th street has had both white and black residents, the whites mostly in bungalow-style houses, and the blacks mostly in more cheaply built wooden houses, including shotgun style. When my mother was growing up, the white kids and black kids played together, went to each others' houses, etc - very different from the strict segregated environment that some might expect from that era.

The families, white and black alike, stayed in their same houses for decades. Eventually, though, the old folks died,

and the neighborhood died with them. Drug dealers and cheap student rentals pushed out other inhabitants. The city decided a few years ago to take action. Since the opening of a police substation, the drug and crime problem has been eliminated to a good degree, giving hope that the tremendously devalued "student ghetto" of 8th street can eventually make a comeback.

Although there are still student rentals, the next couple of blocks along 8th, east toward the stadium, have been upgraded significantly. The 3-4 story Gameday Condominiums have sold very well.

eighth.jpg

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Pretty cool! Nice thread DruidCity! At different points it looks a little Southwest-ish with the pines. Lotts a trees- I like that!

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The southwest-looking one (third photo) is brand new, too. Construction people were on site when I was there. We don't have many that look similar. When I first saw it, I expected it to be a Mexican restaurant, instead of a house.

There hasn't been any serious talk of bringing back the street cars - just not enough $$$ or local interest. The city did rebrand its buses as the "Tuscaloosa Trolley" a few years ago, which stirred up some old-timers about "when we had the real thing," but nobody with any pull stepped up.

University Blvd is such a primary road now that the city plans to keep all the lanes, and it would be practically impossible to widen it at this point.

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Some other shots from around town :

13-story men's dorm at the UofAlabama campus, from the UofA river park:

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Looking across the river from the same location, here's the Rivermont area :

rivermont.jpg

Rivermont extends from the home above (sorry for the blurry picture) to the Northport city limit. Rivermont is in the City of Tuscaloosa, about 1/2 mile or so from downtown.

The left half of the following photo is a lot of apartments geared toward university students, and the right half is a subdivision of single-family homes.

Not shown, but on the other side of this photo is an old-folks home and a Morgan Keegan office.

rivermont2.jpg

Since the 1850s, Bryce Hospital (adjacent to the University of Alabama) has been the state's best-known mental health facility.

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Large magnolias and other trees are on the grounds :

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The University of Alabama has been gobbling up land from the cash-strapped Bryce facility. On the corner of what was Bryce property until a few years ago is Shelby Hall, the university's new building opening this summer, which will be the home of the chemistry department.

shelbyhall.jpg

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I took some more photos yesterday, so I'll tack them onto this thread.

35406 is admittedly the City of Tuscaloosa's "most suburban" area. As the only one of the city's seven districts that is north of the river, it functions somewhat independently of the rest of town. Roughly half of the adults in the district have college degrees, and median incomes are significantly higher than the city's other districts or in any of our suburbs.

A pretty good amount of the development is around Lake Tuscaloosa, a city-owned 5,885-acre reservoir created in 1969.

The NorthRiver Yacht Club and surrounding developments by the same developer encompass a thousand or so single-family homes, with a few more hundred on the way.

Despite the fact that it includes private club facilities, much of NorthRiver is accessible to the public, which is good for poor peons like me.

Here are some photos I took yesterday afternoon :

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"Tuska" the bronze elephant stands 27 feet to the tallest point, and weighs 7 tons:

tuska.jpg

Tuska's friends aren't far away :

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Opened last year, the Warner Museum of Young America is one of the best private collections of historic American paintings on display, with some worth in the millions. The large George Washington from-life portrait is valued around $10 million, for instance.

warnermuseum.jpg

Here's the other side of the "chief" in the above photo:

chieftuskaloosa.jpg

He is probably happy to see the lady around the corner :

yachtclubstatue.jpg

Here's a link to some other people's photos of the yacht club area:

http://www.sarabrittarts.com

http://www.smithgolf.com/

Also not my photo, here's one of the less expensive homes in the NorthRiver neighborhood, from a realtor web site :

34513.jpg

On the way toward the yacht club (though a few miles closer in to town), I took a photo of a home in the Gaineswood subdivision that mimics the look of an antebellum mansion :

gaineswood.jpg

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How did I miss this thread? It's nice to see some Tuscaloosa on this forum. Thanks for posting these. :)

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Thanks !

Yesterday was the first day of spring break, which means it's like a ghost town around here, especially in the university area. I decided to test out my new digital camera:

Crimson Promenade, University of Alabama - Usually busy with students, but today you could hear a pin drop :

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East side of Woods Quad, University of Alabama :

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The City of Tuscaloosa Riverwalk currently covers just the downtown area, extending from Capitol Park to the western end of the Army Corps of Engineers. The city hopes to begin work on the section of Riverwalk between the eastern end of the Army Corps property and the UofAlabama river park. There is already an unofficial park path connecting the UofA river park to the city's Riverview boat landing, which is east of US 82.

It is still uncertain whether the city can find a way to purchase the Army Corps of Engineers' 12-acre site for future development, but it is certain that Tuscaloosa Chevrolet will move from its 8-acre downtown riverfront site within the next year or so to make room for future developments.

Here are some photos from the city's Riverwalk downtown :

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"Sprawl-o-rama" - The view from the Skyland Summit at Woods-n-Water, a local store very much like a smaller version of a Bass Pro Shop. Wal-Mart's at the far left, and Dillard's is the brown department store. Downtown is above the football stadium.

The unofficial "midtown" area is around the hospital, seen to the upper right. The UofAlabama extends from downtown to the hospital.

Pict0017.jpg

Old Lock 15 park, in rural Tuscaloosa county, is one of several Army Corps of Engineers parks along the Black Warrior River:

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Lake Crest is a fairly new subdivision just above the Lake Tuscaloosa spillway, in the city's north-of-the-river district, and includes a neighborhood park on the lake for its residents :

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Also in Tuscaloosa's north-of-the-river district is Indian Hills Country Club, which added this $5-million facility to its clubhouse along US82 last year. There are several nice residential areas around Indian Hills (Indian Hills, High Forest, etc), and President Bush campaigned at one of the houses during the 2000 election.

The clubhouse is directly across US 82 from small retail and offices.

The Galleria of Tuscaloosa includes 20 mostly local shops and Evangeline's restaurant, which is French-influenced. Area offices include the HQs for Hunt Refining, Afflink, and First Federal Bank of Tuscaloosa.

Pict0004.jpg

Along Queen City Avenue downtown are many historic residences, but the best-known is the University Club, which served as the Alabama governor's mansion in the 1840s.

It is a part of a very attractive old neighborhood called Pinehurst.

The University Club recently completed a $3-million renovation, which included bringing the structure up to code with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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Just across University Blvd (5th street) from the University Club is this building, which I think might be up for sale or lease. The white bits are in the University Club's front garden :

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Bryce Hospital, the state facility for the mentally ill, has a park-like setting:

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These aren't much, but here are some photos from my yard :

Lady Banks' Rose is popular in Southern gardens :

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... As are magnolias and azaleas :

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... And any place nicknamed the "Druid City" is bound to have some oaks :

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Sabal minor is Tuscaloosa County's only native palm :

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The neighbor's cats, a 'possum, and other animals show up on my front porch from time to time:

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Nice pics! I'm surprised that you're having spring break this late though. My friends going to college up here had spring break back in late February! Oh well, my spring break isn't for two more weeks. :(

Spring has definately come to Tuscaloosa! My dad's best friend lives in Huntsville, and he always calls to tell me how warm it is down there. It's in the 80s there & in the 50s here.

Pict0089.jpg

We have the same kind of bushes in my yard, only ours won't get flowers until May! I'm getting anxious for spring. We got rid of the snow. Now we just have to get some leaves on the trees.

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