Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wake Wednesday - Raleigh's First Suburbs ca.1900

Something is pulling my attention to Raleigh/Wake County around the turn of the century (1900's). It was a time of accelerated growth and prosperity. Perhaps it is that parallel that with today's frantic growth pace that has me looking backwards.  

I started looking at the historic neighborhoods that built up in the early 1900's:

  • Glenwood  - c.1905. It's development a direct result of the streetcar line providing access north and west.
  • Boylan Heights -  c.1907. Built on 180 acres of the William Montfort Boylan Mansion on the western outskirts of Raleigh.
  • Cameron Park - c.1910. Built on land that half a century earlier was Cameron Plantation.
  • Bloomsbury - c. 1914. It's construction signaled the transition from streetcar access to automobile access as Raleigh expanded ever outward.

As I did more research, I became amazed and a little unsettled at the historical, cultural and sociological details that are unearthed when you start to read about them. What started as a curious and nostalgic look at some quaint Wake communities lead to a whole different perspective on Raleigh as it emerged into the 20th century. (The links above will take you directly to individual historic profiles for each neighborhood.)

I was going to do several posts on these lovely nostalgic neighborhoods and their role in the changing mores of Wake County. As luck would have it, my research led me to someone else with the same interest in these communities who had already covered this topic in full detail and really honestly. So rather than "re-invent the wheel," I will now direct you to the well written blog post, City of Oaks by blogger David Fleming.  While I am mainly interested right now in the Raleigh communities that sprung up right after 1900, David has covered the development of Raleigh in its entirety. This will necessitate some scrolling on your part to bypass the original layout of Raleigh and the stagnation of growth around and after the Civil War years.  The part that I am most interested in about a quarter way down the page just after he discusses Josephus Daniels. 

He starts with pretty much the same jumping off point that I had arrived at - the building of the streetcar line on Glenwood Avenue and how it both enabled and depressed parts of Raleigh's population. Like I said, some of this is unsettling, but he does present a thorough unvarnished look the racial divide and class isolation that grew through the first half of the 20th century.

David's post is filled with wonderful photos, maps, historic perspective and even some useful statistics. If times allows, read the whole article and take in the massive amount of work that David has done here.

I am sure grateful for his efforts. I could not begin to present the subject as well as he did.

Return to the WakeCoGen Website

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