This is a blog that will critically examine the present and look to the future for how we can improve the built environment of our city. But in looking to the future we must first understand the past and how we arrived at our present state. I’m sure that I will often be guilty of portraying a very black and white view of past=good/present=bad. From an urbanism standpoint I have many good reasons to view our city this way. However, we should not forget that the Birmingham of the past had many grievous problems, chief among those being racial segregation. The Birmingham of the past might have been a grand city, a very urban city, but sadly it was also a divided city.
I will look into the history and nature of racism and segregation in coming post. How it both allowed Birmingham to be built up and how it ultimately tore it down. So I want to be careful in writing this blog to say I realize that of the many good things that existed in the past, many of those good things were reserved only for whites. And of the many mistakes this city has made in the past half century, rejecting racism and segregation is not one of them. Whatever serious issues of racism exist today (and of course there are still many), we should be thankful that signs like the one above no longer exist.