Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Estates of Historic Norwood

The pride of Birmingham in the 1920s and 30s, Norwood is home to the elegant architecture and neighborhood planning of that period. But as industry grew on either side of the housing district, in both Birmingham and North Birmingham, soot and haze dominated the skyline. And coupling this distasteful pollution with the fact that new neighborhoods were sprouting up on the other side of Red Mountain, Norwood began to see a decline.

In the 1960s and 70s, that decline became an outright White Flight, prevalent in so many urban centers around the country. As property values decreased, lower income families (predominantly represented by minorities) were able to purchase homesteads, despite rigorous efforts to keep them out. This led to a mass exodus of white families, to other, newer neighborhoods in the city, more remote from both black families and the industrial districts.

Time has not been kind to Norwood. Over the last forty years, most of the homes have fallen into a state of decay and disrepair, most of them irreparably so. Yet for some, improvement is on the horizon. In 2001, the Norwood Boulevard Historic District was placed on the National Registry. And in 2005, the Norwood Neighborhood Association contracted with Auburn University to develop a rehabilitation plan for Norwood's residences and small businesses.

Additional information about Norwood, and its past and future, can be found at Historic Norwood.

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