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memphismike123

Memphis VS Birmingham

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I Was skimming through forums yesterday and saw that people made a comment that birmingham" Was too Dense downtown" well i Just wondered how there density stacked up to ours.Plese post Pics.

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I Was skimming through forums yesterday and saw that people made a comment that birmingham" Was too Dense downtown" well i Just wondered how there density stacked up to ours.Plese post Pics.

Mike,

I live in Nashville and was born in Memphis (visit once a year to check everything from the built environment to the zoo to the UofM campus (parents attended what was then Memphis State College). I know the city quite well. Also, I try to visit Birmingham once a year. Was last there in May. As to building density in Memphis and Birmingham, here's my take:

I give Birmingham a slight edge. It's Downtown/South Side are compact as they are hemmed in by Red Mountain. South Side also has UAB, which ranks as one of the most building-dense university campuses I have ever seen (and I've seen many). The entire mass of this urban core is extremely gridded and, in large part because of UAB, has respectable people density.

In contrast, I feel Memphis is a bit more impressive overall in that its sheer "building mass" extends from downtown to the inner-interstate loop (about 10 miles) — a stretch of significant built fabric that Birmingham (or many Southern cities) simply cannot match.

Of note, both Birmingham (Downtown/South Side) and Memphis (Downtown/Midtown) -- compared to Nashville (Downtown/Midtown) -- offer much better building density and vintage architecture stock. In these three comparable areas, Nashville might have about the same people density, but I doubt it. Lastly, and only somewhat relatedly, within these comparable areas of all three cities, Nashville has more civic/cultural buildings and more structures built since 1980.

Overall, I like Memphis's building density and vintage flavor.

William Williams

Edited by East Side Urbanite

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Memphis has a great density unmatched by Nashville, but Birmingham is very close, and reminds me of Memphis with hills. Birmingham is impressive when you come in from 65 south into the city, the buildings although not that tall give a big city presence. Memphis has the built environment thing going and a real chunky feeling once you enter downtown. Memphis's skyline isn't that impressive as Birmingham or Nashville, however, it gives you a true urban feel. Nashville's skyline would be more impressive if the west end had taller buildings. If you look closely, coming in from north 65, you can see the massive size of the skyline from east to west Nashville, but because the downtown has much taller buildings than anywhere esle in the city and development has mainly been post 1980's the "true urban core" looks small.

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Memphis has a great density unmatched by Nashville, but Birmingham is very close, and reminds me of Memphis with hills. Birmingham is impressive when you come in from 65 south into the city, the buildings although not that tall give a big city presence. Memphis has the built environment thing going and a real chunky feeling once you enter downtown. Memphis's skyline isn't that impressive as Birmingham or Nashville, however, it gives you a true urban feel. Nashville's skyline would be more impressive if the west end had taller buildings. If you look closely, coming in from north 65, you can see the massive size of the skyline from east to west Nashville, but because the downtown has much taller buildings than anywhere esle in the city and development has mainly been post 1980's the "true urban core" looks small.

J-Ham,

Very good points.

A few observations: Both downtown Birmingham and Memphis have very strong vintage (and pedestrian-oriented) building stocks. Lots of stuff in the three- to 15-story range. Also, both cities offer a good bit of old-school fabric that is "attached" (i.e., the buildings share walls). Nashville, sadly, has very little of that. Nashville is trying to compensate for its lack of quality vintage stuff with lots of 21-century infill. Some of the additions have been very tasteful, but there have been missteps. From a built fabric perspective, the most impressive thing about Nashville is to drive from Broadway at First Avenue (at the Cumberland River), via West End Avenue and to White Bridge Road on the west side or to (taking the same starting point) split at 17th and go via 21st Avenue to I-440. Memphis offers similar impressive drives from downtown and going east via Union and Poplar. Birmingham delivers with the drive from downtown to Five Points via 20th Street South. My favorite area of B-Ham might be the Highland/Ruston parks district. Wow. Very impressive. Reminds me of Cherokee Park in Louisville.

William Williams

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Memphis and Birmingham are impressive with vintage old stock buildings. Nashville's suburban flight in the 1970's left a lot of our old stock empty and in bad repair. I think we saved what we could but we lost some gems. Nashville looks more like Atlanta and Charlotte with its post 1980 architecture than an old school southern city.. Nashville does not have the old southern city charm it did back in the 1930's-1960's.

I do not remember ever being in Birmingham but Memphis was a nice city when I was last there in 1997. It seemed dense and for the life of me I still cannot understand why the tallest building in the city is 7-10 miles out of downtown! Every time I fly east over Memphis, I see downtown on my left and Clark Tower and the UP Tower to my right miles from downtown.

BR86

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density it not thte problem for either city, in fact it's not an issue given enormous white/suurban flight over the mountain in bham, and well past Collierville, Arlington in Memphis....in short,, both cities pretty much suck anyway, whether dense in the city centre or not

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Please refrain from using phrases like "both cities pretty much suck anyway..." Its okay to not like a city, but give reasons that provide a sustainable and viable argument rather than using words like "suck."

BR86

Moderator Nashville Forum

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Agree with BR86. I know a lot of people dislike both Memphis and Birmingham and that's fine. It's their right. But to use such harsh and dismissive language is uncalled for. I was born in Memphis and my parents met and fell in love at what was then Memphis State College (now the UofM) in the late 1950s. We all live in Nashville now (have for years) but we all still love Memphis. For those who don't, no problem. But let's show some respect.

WW

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