Here's a municipal map of Tuscaloosa from the 1880s. The original street names are on it so you can see that University Boulevard was Broad Street. 6th Street was called Cotton Street. 7th Street was called Union Street. 8th Street was Pike Street. 19th Avenue was Bear Street. 20th Avenue was York Street. 21st Avenue was College Street. 22nd Avenue was Madison Street and 23rd Avenue was Monroe Street.
Before ya'll condemn these people's property, tear down their businesses and sell the land to someone else, it would be a good idea to commemorate these old street names in the urban renewal district. The numbering system for the streets was adopted during the 1904 administration of Mayor Frank Blair.
Here's a close up of the same map. As you can see, Big Gully extended all the way up to University Boulevard. According to former Tuscaloosan News editor Ben Green in A History of Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1816-1949, after the 1866 flood, Big Gully extended all the way to the present-day Alta Apartments and the only through street downtown was 7th Street. Mr. Green devotes an entire chapter of his book to Big Gulley and in the conclusion to his book he lists Big Gulley as the first of the five greatest barriers to Tuscaloosa's growth because it "threatened to knife the very heart of this town."
On page 71 of Mr. Green's book he describes the 1893 fire which fatally burned two children during a performance at the old Academy of Music on present day 7th Street near where the Elks Theatre(Alta Apartments) was constructed in 1905.
According to Green, Sam Friedman inspired the paving of downtown street in 1911 and major paving projects continued during the twenties. Please notice the granite curb stones near the Alta Apartments.
65 years ago 6th Street was a lot busier than it is today. According to the 1938 Tuscaloosa City Directory, 32 businesses were located along the three blocks of 6th Street between 20th Avenue and 23rd Avenue. Please investigate the old city directories and also consult the old insurance company fire maps. Carl Adams of Adams Antiques has an old one in his place of business.
Old foundation stones were uncovered and discarded when the south side of 6th Street between 23rd Avenue and Greensboro Avenue was demolished after the recent fire. Something could have been learned from this stone work. Also make sure all the wells you uncover are excavated.Also look at that old aerial map of Tuscaloosa from the 1880s. All of the buildings pictured on this "bird's eye view" are apparantly accurate.
Last but not least(and this will be my last post before the March 22 deadline),
SAVE THE CHUKKER!