About Lakeview

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About Lakeview 2018-01-22T19:15:06+00:00

In the Heart of the City

With a history going back to 1883, Birmingham’s Lakeview District is a living testament to the city’s rich heritage. Today, the diverse neighborhood of 36-blocks just east of downtown is a driving force behind Birmingham’s cultural renaissance.

Popular destinations include the Lakeview Entertainment District at 29th St S and 7th Ave. South, and the Pepper Place Market District at 29th Street S and 2nd Ave S. In 1991, the City of Birmingham designated Lakeview a Commercial Revitalization District (CRD) and set the boundaries.

The 36- block borders include the Elton B. Stephens Expressway (26th St. S) to 33rd St. S; and 1st Ave S to University Boulevard, including the St. Vincent’s Birmingham campus. Nearby to Lakeview and supported by LBA: The Sloss Business District that includes STERIS/IMS and Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark.*

The City of Birmingham designated Lakeview as a Commercial Revitalization District (CRD) in 1991. As one of 26 CRDs in the City, businesses in the District are subject to design review guidelines.

Additionally, Lakeview is home to two historic districts – Southside and North Lakeview Industrial District.

Our History

Master Plan

Business Directory

Lakeview Business Association

Photograhy by Viscom Photographics

* There are a number of businesses that are just outside Lakeview’s CRD borders that identify with Lakeview. The LBA has set a goal to work with the City to expand Lakeview’s boundaries. If you have thoughts regarding what the expanded boundaries ought to be, please email Wanda Gilmore.

Our History

Why Lakeview? And Where’s the Lake?

Lakeview’s story begins in the 1880s with the Elyton Land Co., which developed the City of Birmingham. The company hoped to attract residents to the City’s Southside by first building a scenic resort on densely forested property on the north slope of Red Mountain.


Plans for the resort included a beautiful lake and amenities that would be easily accessed via a streetcar system. The central artery for the streetcar line was Highland Avenue, begun in 1884 and envisioned as a grand boulevard that would attract Birmingham’s industrial, financial and political elite to build fine homes suitable for their stature. The development, described as the “most fashionable suburb in Birmingham” included about 1,500 acres.

Under the leadership of company President Dr. Henry Caldwell, work on the 100-acre park began in 1883 at the intersection of what is now Highland and Clairmont Avenues. According to the Southside historic district nomination, Lake View Park was named after a Chicago neighborhood located along the shores of Lake Michigan that was a popular summer getaway spot for residents.

Developers dammed natural springs to create the lake, then built an island as a site to stage operas and other performances.  The resort eventually included a casino with refreshment rooms, a pavilion with a bowling alley, skating rink, basement swimming pool and dance floor, boat houses, several conservatories, the Lakeview Theatre and an adjacent baseball park. A magnificent 72-room hotel opened in July 1887 with several elaborate parlors, a ballroom and a billiard room; “French cooks were employed and all meats served were purchased in New York,” wrote James F. Sulzby, Jr., in “Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts” (University of Alabama Press, 1960). Managers added 60 rooms a year later to meet demand, along with several ornate cottages built on the mountainside.  Two Presidents, Grover Cleveland (‘88) and Benjamin Harrison (’91), visited the hotel, which eventually accommodated 320 guests.

The resort became the gathering spot in the summer for the elite of Birmingham and elsewhere across the South, and crowds were tremendous. “On Sundays and holidays, many who lived in the City would flock out to the Lakeview resort.  Richard Dabney, author of “Birmingham’s Highlands Park,“ (Arcadia Publishing, 2006) states: “Every 30 minutes, from sunrise to midnight, a train car of the dummy line would make a stop at the resort, which existed for people to escape the dirty air of the city and enjoy a quieter and cooler, location in the Highlands.” Sulzby in his book calls Lakeview “the greatest and crowning development of aristocracy of the Highlands. Lakeview Hotel, together with the magnificent park and grounds, was known far and wide for its hospitality.”


Image courtesy of Birmingham, Ala. Public Library Archives


Our Founder

Benjamin Pinckney Worthington, Jr.

A well-worn historic marker on 6th Ave S offers clues as to one of the early major landowners in Birmingham and his ties to Lakeview.  Benjamin P. “Pink” Worthington, Jr., one of the Elyton Land Co. founding directors, owned a 1,000 acre farmstead in what is now Lakeview and Avondale. He sold all but two acres of the land that surrounding his house for 133 shares in the Elyton Land Co., in 1870.  Portions of the property was referred to as “Pink Worthington’s Frog Pond.” He also was a founding director of the National Bank of Birmingham. He was married to Caroline Mitchell of South Carolina, and had 11 children. He died in 1884. The Birmingham Historical Society marker on 6th Ave S at 30th St S erected in 1956 marks the spot where the Worthington home stood from 1858-1953. The stately, eight-room home had one of the first water systems in the area supplied by springs later submerged under Rushton Park.

Lake View Park’s Days Were Numbered

The park faced competition from another popular resort built in East Lake beginning in 1886. Similar to Lake View’s developers, the East Lake Land Co. built the park and 34-acre artificial lake as a private amenity for its planned subdivision, opening it to day trippers as a way to sell lots.  East Lake Park also flourished with amusements such as a ferris wheel, roller coaster, zoo, a miniature railroad and shooting gallery.

The Lakeview hotel struggled to get customers year round, and Suzby writes that it could not compete with other resorts elsewhere in Alabama, in part because it had “no mineral waters to offer the sick.” It closed August 21, 1891. The building was used for a short time as a women’s seminary, the Southern Female University, but then the building burned down in 1893 and the school later reopened in Anniston.


Image courtesy of Birmingham, Ala. Public Library Archives

Lake View – An Early Home to Alabama Sport

The Lake View baseball park continued to attract crowds, and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 22, 1893, one of the hallmark events in Alabama college football history happened there when the University of Alabama’s “Tuskaloosa” squad played the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama’s “Orange and Blue” for the first time with 5,000 in attendance (score: Auburn 32, UA 22).  A historic marker on a preserved section of the park at the BBVA Compass Brock Center on 32nd St S, states that the contest was “reported as the greatest football game ever played in Birmingham.”

The park pavilion remained open as a popular theater, but then it was torn down in 1900, and the entire park was leased to the Country Club of Birmingham. In 1903, Club Pro Nick Thompson laid out a 9-hole course on the property, then added a short front 9 a few years later to extend the course to 18 holes. In 1904, a large arts & crafts style club house designed by the Birmingham architecture firm Miller & Martin, opened. The rustic club house hosted former president Theodore Roosevelt.  In 1926, the club sold its course to the City of Birmingham, which opened it to the public in 1927. In 1956, the Highland Park course was renamed in honor of WWII veteran and renowned blind golf champion Charles A. “Charley” Boswell.

The dam is still visible directly behind the water hazard at the top of the course, and the small pond on the south end is all that remains of the lake.

Lake View Becomes Lakeview, and the City Comes

The Lakeview Entertainment District, centered at 29th and 7th Ave S, retains the park name, which at some point was changed from Lake View to Lakeview. The City created the Lakeview Commercial Revitalization District, comprised of 36 blocks, in 1991.

More than a century after Lake View was one of Birmingham’s first destinations, Lakeview is one of our city’s most vibrant and happening crossroads with local restaurants serving up all different kinds of fare and venues offering up great local entertainment.


Pepper Place

In 1990, Sloss Real Estate began redevelopment of the northern end with the redevelopment of Pepper Place, a seven-building, 227,000 square-foot retail and office development including the former Dr. Pepper Building and Martin Biscuit Building. The development is home to popular Pepper Place Saturday market, as well as a concentration of design-related businesses and showrooms.


Truly Historic

In 1999, the historic commercial area of Lakeview at 29th Street and 7th Avenue was appended to the city’s Southside Historic District plus the North Lakeview Industrial District, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Today the district has many buildings suited to residential renovation, and offers several sites ideal for residential development.

Learn more about the historic buildings in Lakeview.

Historic Lakeview and Tax Credit Information

The Master Plan

In 2010, the Lakeview Business Association hired Auburn University’s Urban Studio to do a master plan. The goal was to build on Lakeview’s strengths while adding new development to make the District viable for years to come. Fifteen urban planning and design students spent more than two months on the project, which was led by then-director Cheryl Morgan.  Several meetings and charrettes were held to help determine what the community envisioned for its future.

Today, the most relevant aspects of the plan are the assets, opportunities, concepts, and guiding principles for development. These inform LBA’s work and priorities: 

• Make mixed-use a development goal

• Increase residential options

• Build synergies & zones of reinforcing activities

• Build density within the existing infrastructure

• Make the District walkable

• Prioritize development with a transit strategy

• Make the District easy to navigate & destinations easy to find

• Build connectivity between Lakeview & adjacent neighborhoods/districts

• Grow with best practices in sustainability/neighborhood development


Download the Master Plan

30 Years

Building & Supporting Lakeview

The Lakeview Business Association has been building on the foundation we laid 30 years ago, and we aren’t done yet. See what we’ve been up to. And where we’re going.

Join the Lakeview Business Association
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