Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Birmingham's Version of Louisville's Cherokee Park

There is a geographically tight district southeast of downtown Birmingham that, compared to similar areas in other U.S. cities, offers one of the best examples of combining built and natural environments. The area is a few blocks west of Forest Park and bordered by Eighth Avenue/Clairmont Avenue on the north, Highland Avenue/31st Street to the east, Highland Avenue to the south, and the Red Mountain Expressway to the west. Commonly referred to, not surprisingly, as the Highland Park District, this heavily wooded urban node features some handsome vintage residential buildings, a handful of splendid church buildings and five parks (Caldwell, Highland, Rhodes, Rushton and Underwood). During my drives though the district, I noticed vibrant pedestrian activity. Among other Southern cities, the eastern fringe of Louisville's Cherokee Park perhaps compares most favorably. Sadly, there is no place within urban Nashville that remotely resembles the Highland Park District. For that matter, as some upcoming posts will note, there are many interesting elements of Birmingham's manmade environment for which Nashville offers modest, if any, competition.

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