The Short Mobile Alabama Ghetto Story
One of Alabama’s largest cities and the state’s oldest city, the city of Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras and one of the few places in the country that was a port city for incoming slaves.
Some of the first communities for black families in the city was an area called Africa Town, which is now known as the Plateau and Happy Hills neighborhoods, and became the home to many freed slaves.
Other areas were places were areas like the former Davis Avenue, which was renamed to Martin Luther King Avenue, or small sections of what is now Toulminville.
Today, the community has grown and expanded into a number of places like Cody Road in West Mobile, south of Government Street in neighborhoods like Navco, Maysville, Down The Bay, and projects of Baltimore, Birdsville, and RV Taylor.
While north of Spring Hill Avenue there is neighborhoods from Crichton and Toulminville to the Roger Willams and Orange Grove housing complexes, and not to forget the city of Prichard.
The city of Prichard, which is a large community that is north of downtown Mobile, is another section of the Mobile Alabama ghetto that has its own reputation with communities like Snug Harbor, Gulf and Alabama Village, Bessemer Projects, Smurf Village, Trinity Gardens, and more.
The city of Prichard’s story is similar to many other communities around the country like what Gary is to Chicago or East St Louis is to the city of St. Louis, Prichard is to the city of Mobile.
Prichard started out as a suburb of Mobile, being located right outside of the city limits, that later changed and declined towards the end of the century, beginning in the 1960s and 70s.
The main cause of Prichard’s decline was a loss of a tax base as many people and businesses fled the community, as Prichard was becoming predominantly black.
A land grab with the community of Plateau becoming part of the city of Mobile, in order for the city council to control the black vote of Prichard, would later hurt Prichard’s tax base, along with a lack of receiving proper government funding and grant other than the money the city of Prichard receives from public housing.*
In the beginning, African-Americans were limited and restricted to only being able to live in a few places in the Mobile area.
Over the years the community expanded, as white flight, the building of new homes in neighborhoods that were miles away from the inner city, and the construction of the interstate giving easy access to these new communities.
Currently, communities of the Mobile Alabama ghetto are once again changing especially within the city’s housing projects.
Neighborhoods like Orange Grove or Prichard’s Bessemer Projects were some of the first housing complexes to be transformed and rebuilt, as Orange Grove was once one of the biggest housing projects in the state and now has strict tenant policy with only a few blocks left.
Areas like Happy Hills, R.V. Taylor, Birdsville, and a couple of other complexes are next to be transformed into a mixed-income community with a funding of millions of dollars to newly rebuild the neighborhoods, while many of the old residents are being relocated or displaced.
Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
Mobile, AL History Source:
*Anacker, Katrin B. The New American Suburb: Poverty, Race and the Economic Crisis. N.p.: Routledge, 2015. Print.