Monthly Archives: May 2007


10-13-16-mlk-chattanooga-tnn07.jpg,” originally uploaded by crfranko.

Previously mentioned photographer Charles Franklin (his El Dorado, AR, photos here) also took a few pictures of MLK on a visit to Chattanooga, TN, not long ago. More after the jump.


10-13-16-mlk-chattanooga-tnn01.jpg,” originally uploaded by crfranko.

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More Savannah

Crites Hall, originally uploaded by R. Walker.

Wednesday morning I had the nice opportunity to chat with students (mostly architectures majors) taking a class in “Writing About Place,” at the Savannah College of Art & Design, about the Letters from New Orleans book — and about this very project. It was an interesting discussion about MLKs in general, the various aspects of MLK the icon, what the street “means” in various places, and the history and current development of MLK in Savannah. (The interesting observations of course came from the students, who were from all over the place, and had things to say about wherever they were from in addition to their views about Savannah.)

As it happens, the classroom was itself on Savannah’s MLK. See above. Crites Hall apparently dates to 1905, and, as was pointed out to me when I asked, the building was at one time a dry-goods store (Frank & Co.) as the faded paint along the side makes clear.

The portion of MLK in Savannah that’s north of the so-called “I-16 flyover” is generally more developed than the southern section of the street. Apart from some SCAD buildings, other entities on this strip include several fast-food restaurants, and a couple of hotels. Plus, a few of the businesses that were mentioned in some of the recent local press coverage of development debates.

Wednesday night I stopped by the unveiling of the proposed “master plan” for downtown Savannah, which includes a section of MLK. Between that meeting and the related press coverage, a few bits of (reported & alleged) information. Those bits, plus a smattering of other photos, after the jump. More recent MLK shots, all from this northern stretch of the street, added to this Savannah MLK set.

My thanks to writer and SCAD professor James Edward Lough and his students for some good conversation.
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More St. Louis

IMG_8176.jpg,” originally uploaded by

Steve Patterson of Urban Review STL — previously mentioned here — added a big batch of images to the MLK BLVD Flickr pool after that earlier post, so it’s worth highlighting a few. More of Mr. Patterson’s photography is here. Above: “Northside of MLK between Goodfellow & City Limits, former Welston Loop building.” Below: “Beautifully detailed building along Grand to be razed for a suburban-style Walgreen’s.” More after the jump.

mlk_grand – 01.jpg,” originally uploaded by

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Mixed news in Savannah

A Savannah Morning News front-pager today focuses on the issues of redeveloping the city’s MLK.

The street, once a center of African-American business and activity, was badly undermined by an interstate extension in the 1960s, when it was still known as West Broad. It was renamed in 1990, and in 1996, city-directed redevelopment efforts began.

Since 2001, 74 new black-owned businesses have opened and continue to operate in the corridor.

Property values also have gone up. In December 2000, commercial properties in the corridor were valued at $75.9 million. As of 2005, those same properties were worth $209.4 million.

The downside is that as values have gone up, so have rents and leases. Businesses have to make more money to keep up, and many former residents simply cannot afford to live on MLK now.

Also: In typical SMN fashion, an interesting piece of news that to my knowledge had never been reported is slipped in toward the end of the piece, in a mysterious and inconclusive fashion:

The 514 West restaurant, a flagship of the Renewal Authority’s revitalization efforts, has shut down, owing at least $58,000 in unpaid state sales and withholding taxes.

It is unclear when or if the restaurant will reopen.

It also is unclear whether the restaurant’s financial troubles stem from its location or other factors. Co-owner Eddie Williams could not be reached for comment.

This is the restaurant outside of which the recent ceremony honoring King Oliver was held. A plaque in tribute to Oliver was mounted on the side of the restaurant. The paper ran several stories about the event.

So, the full facts on this matter would be nice.


MLK, originally uploaded by charphotocharphoto.

More of charphotocharphoto’s work here.



cheap burgers, originally uploaded by Lee Otis.

“Taylor’s Drive-In, Oakland,” write Lee Otis. I’m guessing it’s not serving burgers these days, cheap or otherwise, but I can’t say for sure. In any case, the beautiful images above and below, from MLK in Oakland, appear in two excellent sets by Lee Otis: Decay, and Oakland. Both are worth exploring.

sign for old bar, originally uploaded by Lee Otis.


Mr. Otis, who lives a few blocks from Oakland’s MLK, also happens to have served as a TA recently for a class on cultural landscape history, part of which focused on Oakland. He generously shares these these quite interesting and informative thoughts:

Martin Luther King Jr. Way (formerly Grove Street) is today one of the main thoroughfares connecting the cities of Oakland and Berkeley on the eastern shores of the San Francisco Bay, a role that it has played for over a century. Like many of the other large streets in the area, the Oakland MLK saw its first major developments in the late 19th century as a streetcar line leading from downtown Oakland to the workers’ subdivisions that were springing up between Oakland and Berkeley. In fact the Grove Street Line was the first electric trolley line to connect the two cities, beginning in 1891. The remnants of historical workers’ cottages and streetcar-era commercial districts can been seen in many places along MLK Jr. Way. Continue reading

Racing in Philly

Racing on MLK.JPG, originally uploaded by all the pix.


In reply to a question from me about this image, all the pix replies: “It is MLK Drive, which is one of the main corridors that takes you into Center City, Philadelphia. It was formerly called West River Drive (it was changed to MLK Dr. last year).”

Drive safely, all the pix.

More Portland

Oregon Convention Center, originally uploaded by borenan.

“Oregon Convention Center from the corner of Martin Luther King and Multnomah Blvd,” part of a Portland set from borenan.

A different view, coincidentally of the same statue and context, but by a different photographer, is below.

With several different batches of images coming from Portland, OR, it may be interesting to note that developments on that city’s MLK Blvd. have been the subject of some press attention this year. In January 2007, Willamette Week interviewed Anita Smith, owner of Hanna Bea’s. Excerpts:

When Smith took over one corner of the decaying boulevard at Northeast Shaver Street in 2002 for her dessert mecca and restaurant, “snobby skeptics” questioned the viability of her location, Smith says….

What was once considered financially risky seems far less so today; for example, the gentrification-friendly Terroir wine bar is scheduled to open on MLK in May.

The worry, Smith says, is that gentrification will push out black-owned businesses like hers. She can point to a history in Portland in which decades of racist real-estate practices limited black families to Northeast Portland.

The symbolism of the street’s name, of course, makes its redevelopment that much more important to African-American business owners like Smith.

“How’s it going to be MLK Boulevard without MLK businesses?” Smith asks. “If you have an MLK Boulevard, you have to have nice, respectable places that represent his culture.”


MLK & Holladay, originally uploaded by ray+an.

“Part of my photography final,” expains ray+an. (Her personal favorites set here; her blog Cardboard Condominium here.) “Statue on the corner of NE MLK & Holladay in Portland, OR. I like the effect the flag made with the slower shutter speed.”

Paulrus gives you MORE

Paulrus gives you MORE, originally uploaded by skomra.

Aaron Armstrong Skomra contributes this image from the MLK in Portland, OR. It’s also part of his sets Paulrus is Dead, and Portland Graffiti.

Mr. Skomra has been in Portland for about a year, and cautions that he thus has only impressions of the MLK there based on his own observations and local journalism. Still, his comments are interesting:

Portland is seeing a huge development boom and MLK is no exception. The Portland Development Commission would like to run a “streetcar ” (we already have a light rail and two other “streetcars”) up the MLK here which would surely increase the rate of the development in the area. The Boulevard runs through Northeast Portland, one of
Portland’s five “quadrants.” Northeast Portland is a different ball of wax. Suffice it to say that NE Portland was formerly predominantly African American and a number of
factors are causing more whites and Latinos to move into the area. I presume this will eventually change, in some way, the character of MLK, but I can’t really predict what
that change will be.

MLK is a business district more than a neighborhood. (There is a Neighborhood “King” which is adjacent to a part of MLK Blvd.) Most of the businesses are small, with some corporate chains, and a couple of flagship-type stores by Nike and Adidas. Unlike MLK in New York, which I lived close to for five years, most of the traffic is by car or bus. There isn’t much pedestrian traffic, though there are some establishments where people gather socially.

The picture I took was of the side of a building which has a small business. Interestingly enough, after I took the photo the owner (I presume it was the owner) removed the MORE graffiti but left the “Paulrus is Dead” tag.

Mr. Skomra has some interesting observations about photography in the digital on his profile page. (“There’s something wonderful about flickr in that all of the photos still seem to be random, you could chance upon anything, but now because images can be tagged they can also be easily retrieved from their randomness. The combination of order and disorder in the database rules.”)

Separately, regarding his own photography, he says: “Most of my photographs try and place the subject in some kind of larger context. In general, I’d rather have a photo
with too much information that seems cluttered than have a singular romanticized subject.” Often his photo setting is Northeast Portland.