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 were a port city for incoming slaves.
Some of the first places for black families in the city was an area called Africa Town, which is now known as Plateau and Happy Hills and became the home of many freed slaves.
Other areas were places 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, 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, different sections north of Spring Hill Avenue, 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 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 and later changed and declined towards the end of the century, beginning in the 1960s and 70s.
The main cause of the city of Prichard to decline was white flight, as the community eventually became predominantly black.
A land grab with the Plateau area becoming part of the city of Mobile, in order for a majority white 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 grants, other than the money the city of Prichard receives from public housing.*
While in the beginning, African-Americans were limited to a few places in the Mobile area.
Over the years the community expanded as white flight and the building of new homes in neighborhoods that were miles away from the inner city, together with the construction of the highway to give a easy access to these new communities.
Currently, communities of the Mobile Alabama ghetto are once again changing, especially with 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 and some might even become homeless.
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.