Historic Markers Across Alabama

4th Avenue District

Marker ID:  
Location: in a park on the corner of 4th Avenue and 17th Street North, Birmingham, AL
County: Jefferson
Coordinates: N 33° 30.924    W 086° 48.696
  33.5154    -86.8116
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


The Fourth Avenue "Strip" thrived during a time when downtown privileges for blacks were limited. Although blacks could shop at some white-owned stores, they did not share the same privileges and services as white customers, so they created tailor shops, department stores, cafeterias, billiard parlors, fruit stands, shoe shine shops, laundry service, jewelry and record shops, and taxicab stands. These businesses were distinctively geared toward and managed by blacks. When darkness fell, the Fourth Avenue District gleamed with live entertainment. Where some of the finest entertainment in Birmingham could be found at Bob's Savoy. The Frolic Theatre and Henry Hury had "live" entertainment for the black patrons. Not only did singers and dancers captivate the audiences, but live vaudeville shows came to the area: Bessie Smith, Clara Smith, The Whitman Sisters, Hot Harlem Review and Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havanna Review. The Business men and women of this block did not compete with whites for the business dollars, instead enjoyed the profits of their own labors and their own originality and determination in the selection of location and business ventures.

A partial listing of businesses that was established as early as the 30's through the late 70s include:
1947-1953 Brown Derby Grill Restaurant
1940-1959 Mabry Brothers Men's Clothing Store
1950-1957 Bob's Savoy Cafe Restaurant
1949-1955 Utopia Cleaners
1950-1968 Patton Beauty Shoppe
1937-1967 New Home Hotel
1930-1961 Frolic Theatre / Henry Hury
1947-1958 The Orange Bowl
1937-1964 Quality Department Store

Erected 2002 by Urban Impact, supported by funds awarded by the City of Birmingham

End of 4th Avenue District