Can West Birmingham Get Some Love? (Bessemer, Hueytown: real estate, mortgage broker, broker)
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you will have a lot to choose from price range wise. Let me know if I can help in your search. I would call the birmingham police to get crime statistics. I am sure there are areas that hardly ever get calls and some streets that gets calls every week. Heck I know of a place in Pelham that has weekly disturbances. It happens everywhere.
Folks are shot in the face for no reason? A zoo? Really!!!?? What part of NE Alabama do you live in? When was the last time you were in Ensley?
I lived in Birmingham for 20 years and worked at Birmingham Southern College for 12 of those years. I know that area well and trust me, you would never catch me over there once the sun goes down, not without a bullet proof vest and an attack dog. Don't sugar coat West Birmingham, it can get you killed. Yes crime can and does happen anywhere, but all you have to do is turn on the nightly TV news or pick up the newspaper to see that they back up my claims. That entire area from I-65 to Bessemer is a violent cesspool of crime. Do a little research, the crime stats for that area will show you.
What about all the families and business owners, and people just working to survive? Should we turn our backs on an entire community and write them off, even though they are endowed with the same rights to dignity and respect that an upper middle class family in Vestavia is? There is a lot more to a community than its crime rate, and I don't believe that the crime would be the way it is if there were an aqual distribution of opportunity and equity. A kid born into an unstable environment has a really hard time catching up with the rest of the world and unless you attend an inner city school, live in public housing, or have to deal with the presence of gang activity and substance abuse on a daily basis then it is impossible to know anything about the challenges that the community faces (yes, it is still a community even if there are no botox-injected soccer moms). I'm sure it can make one feel quite powerless to change, even though the person might desperately want to.
I grew up in Pratt City, as did my Father and Grandfather.
My Mother grew up in Central Park.
Pratt and Ensley started going downhill in the 1970s.
When I lived in Pratt City, we had Grocery stores, Drug stores, A Doctor's Office, a Hardware store, Jewelry store, Shoe repair shop, Dry Goods Store, Furniture stores, a Masonic Lodge, an Eastern Star Chapter and a couple of beer joints that made the best hamburgers in the world.
Things got to the point where my Mother and I could no longer walk to church because we would be harassed, threatened and called racially derogatory names. We could no longer ride the old 6 Pratt/Ensley bus due to being harassed. I can remember a time when my friends and I would walk from Pratt City to the fairgrounds and walk back that night with no fear.
Beginning in 1968 or so, Pratt School experienced "White Flight" and my life at Pratt School went from a fun, safe learning environment to a living hell.
I was constantly harassed and often beaten due to being "The White Boy".
It got so bad, I had to leave on the first bell, in order to get a running start.
Otherwise, I was open game.
Mama went to the Birmingham Board of Education and filed a complaint. They told her that there was nothing that they could do and allowed me to drop out of school when I was 14 or 15.
Pratt City got so bad, that we could not leave our house unoccupied - someone always had to be there. If not, it would be burglarized.
During these turbulent times of the 1970s, every store in Pratt City was robbed or broken into.
Many families moved away to Forestdale, Vestavia or out in the country. Some accepted the change and stayed, hoping to live a safe, peaceful life.
We finally gave up and moved away in about 1977.
The house where my Grandfather, Father and five Uncles were born is now a shell of a home, due to many years of neglect.
The house where my Mother and Father lived for 35 years and worked so hard to keep it nice is now a dump.
The entire neighborhood where I grew up had nice old homes but now, they are rotting down and falling in due to the thirty five or so years of being in a terrible state of disrepair.
So, yes. At one time, Pratt City, Ensley, Wylam and the entire Western section of Birmingham was a nice place to live but not anymore.
Why? Come to your own conclusions.
It was a different time back then. I am white, my best friend is black and she told me to stay out of that area. Her husband used to work over there. I listen to what she says and I stay out. My parents lived there too, many years ago. And I mean many.
Yeah, Ensley is a utopia. I am one of the very, very, very few remaining white people in Ensley. I can tell you we hear sirens all the time sporadic gunfire. About two weeks ago we had a gunfight that started at the McDonalds and moved towards our house. It ended in a big car wreck on Avenue E and 33rd Street. About a week ago there was another gunfight in the alley about a block away. I can remember when I was a kid and we used to ride our bicycles all over Ensley and Fairfield and Wylam. Ensley had its own Sears store and Penneys and drug stores and several big name grocery stores and car dealerships in downtown Ensley. Now about the only businesses are Exotic Wings places and fingernail shops and African braid shops and payday loan stores. My mom is old and her house is paid for so she doesn't want to leave so every time we go to buy groceries or anything we drive at least 10 miles. She is afraid to do any yard work or gardening in the front yard anymore, and is getting that way about the back yard even though its fenced in. She just isn't spry enough to outrun the thugs if they come after her. We basically live like people in prison and I never leave the house unarmed. Once my mother is gone I plan to sell the house and get out of here and let it finish becoming the "paradise" its destined to be.
Be a part of the solution if you're up for it! :-)
I live in Southside, which also gets a bad rap, though not as much as Ensley does. My boyfriend and I bought a house here and are fixing it up. It was nearly condemned and we got it cheaply for that reason. We both have skills (layman only) to renovate it but you have to be tough to endure the renovation. Very messy, takes a while! Also, the neighborhood is not storybook perfect, but that's where WE come in. If we want a good neighborhood, we can pick a spot that we feel has promise and we can be good residents, cleaning up, planting flowers, meeting the neighbors, shopping locally, et cetera. A study in NYC a few years ago found that cleaning up litter and planting flowers actually deterred crime! Some folks are willing to do it and to them go the spoils. Our house was $124,000 for 3800 square feet when we bought it, but is now insured for double that.
But you wanted love for the west side so: Here goes the love for West B'ham: The Birmingham News recently had a story about a teacher who lives in a nice part of town, teaches somewhere else, and has her kids in another school altogether, also a great district.She could have bought a place anywhere but she picked one in either Ensley or Bessemer to fix up as an investment property and that area of town was mentioned as being on the way back. She was white, so maybe this was a sign that if a white lady teacher can hang around, it's safe for anybody! haha But you get my point? That may have been the writer's way of saying it's not an unsafe place to put down some roots, and stake your claim.
Is it that Ensley is truly unsafe, or are posters just afraid of large groups of black people? I have worked with clients in the area, went to school with people who live in the area, and drive in and/or around the area from time to time to get where I'm going. Yes, there is crime. But I can't help but wonder, especially with some of the racially charged posts and comments (I won't be specific as to avoid making myself a target), whether or not part of it is due to negative stereotypes. Personally,I feel a bit nervous and out of place when I am in an area that is extremely rural and has that "good old boy" feeling to it. However, I love country people and I love the south so go figure.
my recommendation is that you drive around and form an opinion of your own. What might be bad and nasty to one could be great for another.
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