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Old October 23rd, 2008, 07:43 PM   #1
hauntedheadnc
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A long walk through an American streetcar suburb (Part I)

Welcome to the...



...where it is, rather unexpectedly, autumn.



It just sort of snuck up on us. Today, we'll be exploring...



...Montford, which began to develop as Asheville's first suburb in 1893. At that time, and up until 1905 when Asheville annexed it, it was an independent town mainly known as a comfortable home for various professionals such as lawyers and doctors. It did, however, have its own black neighborhood, known as Stumptown, and in addition to the fine homes, and a handful of commercial buildings, it had its very own mental hospital. That would be the old Highland Hospital, which burned down in 1948, incinerating most of the patients, including esteemed lunatic Zelda Fitzgerald.

Then again, most old Asheville neighborhoods worthy of the name have their own mental hospital or tuberculosis sanitarium.

At any rate, even though Montford began to develop extensively in the 1890's, its oldest home is the Rankin House on Elizabeth Street, which dates from 1846. And the neighborhood's grandest green space is Riverside Cemetery, where more than 13,000 Ashevillians are currently pursuing careers in the fertilizer industry. The cemetery officially dates from the 1880's, but there are graves there that date from the 1850's. In short, Montford is a layer cake of the past. In the late 1920's it even spawned its own suburb, Montford Hills, which Asheville quickly annexed.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go for a stroll.







You see these patterned bricks all over Montford. Most of the sidewalks downtown used to be made of these same bricks, but the only street that still retains them now is Thomas Wolfe Plaza.















I'm partial to the little apartment buildings you find scattered throughout the neighborhood.















No, this is not one of the pets that infest Montford. That comes later.





Okay, so it wasn't very much later.











Montford thrived until 1923, when the Vanderbilt heirs, one of the wealthiest families on earth, sold off a portion of their Asheville estate and developed it as a neighborhood called Biltmore Forest. Biltmore Forest immediately became the address in Asheville, and Montford began to decline. By the 1960's it was the city's red light district, and most of these nice houses you're seeing were being used as flophouses and whorehouses, and a score more had been chopped up into cheap apartments. As time wore on and the houses slumped and sagged even more, some landowners began torching their houses because they were just too expensive to maintain. At its worst, at least one house was burning down every week.

The situation really wasn't helped by the city's decision to place a large public housing development, still crime-infested to this day, at the head of Montford Avenue. Nevertheless, in the 1980's, artists and hippies began moving in and renovating the houses and their efforts have paid off handsomely. Today, Montford is a high-dollar neighborhood, although if you look, there are still a few hippies lurking in the shadows. Something tells me this flag flies on a hippie's house.

















A mattress.





A squirrel.



















Pumpkin-shaped pussycats prefer perching in proximity to pumpkin perimeters.





























Rawr.

































I imagine these signs imprinted into the concrete are the most helpful things ever when you're trying to find an address at night.































Yep. That's an Obama sign in the yard. I counted -- there were 78 houses with various Obama signs in their yards or windows, one house with a big banner draped across the front welcoming Obama to his rally held here earlier this month, and exactly 0 houses with signs up for McCain. I tried not to take pictures of people's signs, but this one was unavoidable.







Yes, that is another Obama sign. Thanks for asking.





Atlantans and Floridians scope out the area, searching for realtors' signs. More than a few tourists end up being residents of Asheville after a visit. Even more want to be residents.





This one goes out to all you Washingtonians out there.













Move along to Part II!
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Last edited by hauntedheadnc; October 23rd, 2008 at 08:54 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 08:28 PM   #2
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Very, very beautiful and comfortable houses and neighbourhoods! When did they rip out the actual streetcar lines?
By the way, wouldn't it make sense to keep the various parts of your series in one thread for reference by the viewer instead of separating them into different parts? Great thread!
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 08:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taller, Better View Post
Very, very beautiful and comfortable houses and neighbourhoods! When did they rip out the actual streetcar lines?
By the way, wouldn't it make sense to keep the various parts of your series in one thread for reference by the viewer instead of separating them into different parts? Great thread!
Technically, the streetcar lines are still there. They were never removed, only paved over. I believe that was done some time in the 1930's or 40's. I agree that Montford is gorgeous, and what's even nicer though is the fact that this city is up to its armpits in neighborhoods just like it. There's Grove Park, Albemarle Park, Beverly Hills, West Asheville, and plenty more. You have a lot of areas to choose from if you want historic charm in my town.

It would make sense to keep it all in one thread, but I thought that that many photos in one thread would be something of a modem-buster. My computer already bogs down just opening one of these threads.

Thanks for looking and commenting.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 12:42 AM   #4
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Wow beautiful houses and great pics.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 03:18 AM   #5
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nice photos

As an Australian, I'm confused as to what you all mean by a streetcar suburb. Did not all American cities have tramlines radiating out of their city centres on main roads at one stage, or is different over there. Is this an inner city suburb?

and whereaabouts in the USA is your city
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Old October 24th, 2008, 03:57 AM   #6
hauntedheadnc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastadl View Post
nice photos

As an Australian, I'm confused as to what you all mean by a streetcar suburb. Did not all American cities have tramlines radiating out of their city centres on main roads at one stage, or is different over there. Is this an inner city suburb?

and whereaabouts in the USA is your city
A "streetcar suburb" is basically a suburb developed in the late 1800's or early 1900's along a streetcar line. An inner city suburb basically, yes. They're called what they are to differentiate them from stereotypical car-oriented modern suburban sprawl.

Here's a map. Click to orient yourself as to where Asheville is located.
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Old October 24th, 2008, 08:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hauntedheadnc View Post
Technically, the streetcar lines are still there. They were never removed, only paved over. I believe that was done some time in the 1930's or 40's. I agree that Montford is gorgeous, and what's even nicer though is the fact that this city is up to its armpits in neighborhoods just like it. There's Grove Park, Albemarle Park, Beverly Hills, West Asheville, and plenty more. You have a lot of areas to choose from if you want historic charm in my town.

It would make sense to keep it all in one thread, but I thought that that many photos in one thread would be something of a modem-buster. My computer already bogs down just opening one of these threads.

Thanks for looking and commenting.

The number of pages in a thread is not a problem for downloading.. it is just a case of number of photos per page. Every page allows exactly 20 entries. I tend to try and split my photos up and try to intersperse them with some discussion, to make the pages a bit easier to navigate. If people upload 80 pictures without breaking up for each entry, the pages take so long to download that most people hit "stop" and move on to the next thread!
So feel free to continue your series in the same thread, and it won't make it any harder for downloading!
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