ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest blogger is Mimi Shannon. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
Last year you may have read my piece on how I moved from Mountain Brook to downtown Birmingham—Mountain Brook gal: Achieving my dreams in downtown Birmingham.
In that piece I wrote that in 2012 I was living in my hometown of Birmingham in Mountain Brook and I was desperate to leave. I felt I needed to reach outside to accomplish my goals and achieve my dreams.
When I returned home I found a new and exciting Birmingham. I couldn’t believe how much things had changed and I decided to take a chance on downtown living. I wanted to be a part of Birmingham and the downtown revival.
I was thrilled with my decision to live downtown.
But I wanted to experience as much of Birmingham as possible so I decided to take a chance on a move to Highland Avenue in the neighborhood known as Highland Park.
I am so happy with that decision.
I’m a dog owner, a nature enthusiast, and an admirer of beautiful things so Highland is perfect for me.
My camera roll consists of hundreds of pictures of Highland’s trees and sky.
It’s so refreshing to walk up and down the tree-lined streets that wind their way around my neighborhood.
Although I’ve always been more of a concrete jungle girl, something about Highland Avenue has always intrigued me, and I definitely wanted to experience Highland Avenue-living at least once.
You can still classify yourself as living downtown, but Highland Park provides you with a little bit more of a “softer” feel, and the warm and cozy feeling of suburban-neighborhood life.
The trees, the trees are my favorite thing…
These intricately-developed wise old trees—I could imagine—could tell the best of stories.
Next time, take a second to notice the vines, the color of leaves, and my favorite thing–the way they hang against the eerily beautiful purple night’s sky.
Something about the way they look at night with their huge veins bulging from the ground, making their way through the concrete, and the old mansions perched up on top of their hills gives the avenue a beautifully haunted feeling.
One of the many things that definitely set Highland Avenue apart from the other surrounding areas and give its unique personality is the many parks it boasts.
The Highland Avenue neighborhood consists of three smaller parks within its mother nest–Caldwell, Rhodes, and Rushton Park.
A dog owner’s Paradise
As an Highland Park resident, and a dog owner, one of my favorite things about having this natural luxury right outside my doorstep is walking my dog down into the den of the park, where during after work hours, you will find it is the perfect social scene for dogs and their owners.
You will find yourself amongst running and prancing happy dogs. Whether stick in mouth, chasing after a ball, or—if they’re anything like my dog, creating social hierarchy as boss—they are all happy as a lark. This is also a great place to meet other Highland Avenue residents and socialize together.
A plethora of restaurants
Whether it be eating at the trendy Rojo restaurant, dining at the sophisticated boutique restaurants like Bottega and Galley & Garden, or coffee sipping at, my personal favorite, O’Henry’s Coffee Shop, you will always find some way to enjoy yourself amongst the beautiful scenery.
Many residential options
Living on Highland Avenue is not just having shelter and home, it is an experience. There are so many routes you could take when finding a Highland Avenue home.
The real estate ranges from super affordable pre-war buildings with studios and apartments to rent, luxurious upscale condominiums for purchase, to a mixture of homes—historic and new. You are nestled right in between suburbia Birmingham and the nitty gritty downtown.
The avenue is heavily populated, at all times, with people outside. From early morning to night you will always find a runner, someone is walking their dog, or in the least, cars always driving by. This sense of community is nice, but also—and I think very importantly—provides a sense of safety.
At this second, as I am writing this article, I am sitting at my favorite O’Henry’s coffee shop on Highland.
Let it be known how beautiful and unique this Avenue is. Truly, if you really sit and take it in, it is a magical place, in its own little world, perfectly molded by history, making it a one of a kind place to live.
Downtown vs. Highland Park
Now, if you like newer buildings with a more city feel, amenities to ease your life, and a great walk score then I would recommend to you the downtown area.
If “neighborhood” and “greenery” is important to you then definitely Highland Avenue/Park area is a great place to live. Its amenities are on the outside, the beautiful, luscious parks and tree-lined streets. You also, with a little walking, have easy access to Five Points and the Lakeview area.
It seems almost everyone I’ve talked to has, at one time or another lived on Highland Avenue and maybe even has a story to tell about it.
A connection between Downtown and Highland Park?
It does seem worlds apart from the newly developed midtown area; one thing I would love is a way the two places could connect, a way to make it easy and desired to want to travel back and forth between the areas by bike or foot.
In a perfect world I would create a walking trail or park to connect all areas of downtown, to bring everybody together, to still be able to live in your downtown area of choice but to also have a connection–A mental welcoming and ease of access to surrounding downtown living areas, a connection amongst the people. Ideas anyone?
Highland Avenue is one of the most unique and beautiful places to live and visit.
What else do you think could contribute to this area to attract new people, to keep up with the times, and make it a desired place to visit?
Mimi Shannon is a Graphic and Web-site Designer living in Highland Park Birmingham. Her website is CreativebyMimi.com
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org.