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.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Final Slice Through the Ham

With a full week having passed since my trip to Birmingham, I wanted to share one more thought regarding the city's manmade environment. Specifically, I was impressed with the number and quality of Birmingham's tall older buildings. Of note, and according to, the Ham boasts approximately 22 structures built prior to 1950 and rising at least 100 feet. These old-school gems lend a dignified flavor to both Birmingham at street level and the city when viewed from afar.

Southeastern cities that can rival this number (Emporis figures can be difficult to dissect so the accuracy of these numbers is questionable) are Atlanta (approximately 32), New Orleans (30), Richmond (28) and Memphis (28). Nashville offers 17 buildings of this type. On a side note, the Emporis list for Miami is very difficult to decipher, as the Florida city has so many tall buildings, many of which Emporis lists with no date or no height (or either). From what I can determine, Miami offers about 15 buildings constructed prior to 1950 and standing 100 feet or taller. But this seems low, even considering the fact the bulk of Miami has been built since 1950. One more point: For this exercise, I did not include Louisville, which although located in a Southeastern state is as much a Midwest city as it is a Southern city.

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