Written by chadk78 on 11 Jun, 2005
These trolleys have clanged along the streets of Montgomery since 1886 and still provide a viable form of transportation, as well as sightseeing opportunities. For only $1, you can ride all day long to your heart's content. A one-way pass is only $0.25.…Read More
These trolleys have clanged along the streets of Montgomery since 1886 and still provide a viable form of transportation, as well as sightseeing opportunities. For only $1, you can ride all day long to your heart's content. A one-way pass is only $0.25. Passengers may board or get off at a variety of stops throughout the city. I highly recommend parking at the visitor center and riding the entire route in order to get a good overview of the city and learn some of its history. The trolley driver doubles as a tour guide and narrates the tour as you go.
The tour we took seemed to focus on four different historical figures and their time periods. Hank Williams rose to stardom as a country singer in Montgomery from 1937 to 1947. Many of the places that he performed are located along the route.
The place where Rosa Parks lived, where she worked, and where she often got on and off the bus in 1955 are pointed out on the tour. The story of that fateful day when she would not give up her seat at the front of the bus is relayed by the tour guide.
Several sites significant to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are also located along the route. The Ben Moore Hotel was the site of many of King's Civil Rights meetings, and we see the location of the barber shop where he got his last haircut. The City of Jude is the hospital where his two oldest children were born and the final stop on his Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. King's home from 1954-60 is located at 309 Jackson Street. (It is not open to the public.)
Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church is a National Historic Landmark, where Dr. King preached many sermons about freedom and equality. King served as the church's pastor from 1954-60. The 1955 Bus Boycott, a result of the Rosa Parks incident, was initiated here. A mural inside the church depicts scenes from Dr. King's nonviolent crusade for equal rights. Guided tours of the church are given at various times (call ahead for more information at 334/263-3970), and admission is $2/person.
Jefferson Davis and the early days of the Confederate government are also a recurring theme on the tour. The State Capitol and First Confederate White House are described in separate journals.
While living in Montgomery, Davis attended church at St. John's Episcopal on Madison Avenue. The pew where he and his family sat is marked by a small plaque. Built in 1855, the church features a tall yellow steeple and stained-glass windows made by Tiffany's of New York. The Winter Building on Dexter Avenue was where Confederate Secretary of War L.P. Walker sent a telegraph on April 11, 1861, authorizing General P.G.T. Beauregard to attack Fort Sumter, thus initiating the Civil War. Just across the street is the Court Square fountain. This magnificent structure was built in 1885 over an old artesian well. This was once the site of an old slave market.
If you do nothing else while in Montgomery, I would encourage you not to miss out on this tour. You will see and learn about many things that you would not know about otherwise. What you get for $1 here, you would easily pay $15 for in some other cities. I'd say that $1 for a tour of one of the most historically significant cities in the South is a bargain by any standard. It is very highly recommended.
Written by Barnburner on 03 Sep, 2000
The 1000 block of East Fairview Avenue, call 'The Block,' around the neighborhood I live in, Cloverdale, is the local strip for hanging out and seeing who is around having a good time. There are four restaurants, one all-night bar with live music, a…Read More
The 1000 block of East Fairview Avenue, call 'The Block,' around the neighborhood I live in, Cloverdale, is the local strip for hanging out and seeing who is around having a good time. There are four restaurants, one all-night bar with live music, a community theatre that plays independent films, a few shops, and a styling salon.
For nightlife, this is the neighborhood focal point. 1048 Jazz and Blues Bar is the epitome of the smokey, dark, hole-in-the-wall dive with a small stage up by the dark and a great selection of wine, beer, booze and cigars. Anything goes in 1048. For good eating in a sit-down atmosphere, there are Sinclair's and Buds's. Both have great menus. Bud's sells only Black Angus steaks and Sinclair's is the old-faithful for everybody; when you don't know what you want to eat, you go to Sinclair's because it is always good. Bud's also has live music most nights staring later in the night after the dinner rush. For info on Tomatino's and El Rey, there are separate entries on them.
The Capri Theatre on the middle of the block shows films weekly, running from Thursday to Wednesday. They show all the films that do not make into local big theatres. They show a lot of foreign films, films of interest to gays and lesbians, controversial films like The Last Temptation of Christ, and plays host annually to several travelling films festivals like the Black Maria. The Capri is all things counterculture. It is run by local, notoriously liberal lawyer Martin Mcaffrey.
The few shops on the block are open at night but keep typical shop hours. Ella's sells household goodies and out-of-the-ordinary knick knacks and things. Everything is wildly colored and most nights Ella can be seen leaning out the door of here rather large shop with a drink in hand, people watching. The Davis Watch Shop is open during the day, but it is the authentic old-timey watch shop. Retro Specs is a sunglasses shop that I must admit I have never been in. Fronduti's hair salon is the quaint, very expensive salon where the price paid may be worth being able to say your hair was done there.
Still on 'The Block' but technically not on Fairview Avenue is Jubilee Seafood, owned by Bud Skinner who also owns Bud's. In both restaurants the key to Bud's success has been highquality, very good food. Jubilee one of the only places around for raw oysters. All of their fish is fresh. The only drawback to Jubilee is that it gets packed out early and stays that way all night.
A few little side notes. Sinclair's has a very good brunch. Cafe Luisa has great spumoni. 1048 will not run a tab if they no do not know you. The people watching on the whole block is fabulous.
Written by Barnburner on 31 Jul, 2000
To start off a journal about Montgomery, Alabama, the first thing that needs to conveyed is to open one's mind and get away from every pre-conceived notion. Living here my whole life I have heard all the stereotypes from people who have never been here.…Read More
To start off a journal about Montgomery, Alabama, the first thing that needs to conveyed is to open one's mind and get away from every pre-conceived notion. Living here my whole life I have heard all the stereotypes from people who have never been here. We don't have indoor plumbing, we marry our cousins, we lynch anybody who is not Caucasian.... rubbish.
Having traveled a fair bit in my life, I have experienced all of the prejudices that the rest of the country claims that Southerners are guilty of. As soon as someone hears a Southern accent, the stereotypes come freely. However so few people have come to see for themselves.
Montgomery was the capitol of the Confederacy, the site of the Selma March and the Bus Boycott, the home of Hank Williams, Sr. and Nat King Cole. It is the current state capitol and the home to quite a few federal government departments. The second largest Shakespeare Festival in the U.S. is here.
Beyond all that, we may well have the best home cooking in the whole world. If you walk away from a Southern table hungry, it is your own fault. There is not any point in trying to portray the whole city now. There is plenty of time for that.
Written by Barnburner on 02 Aug, 2000
It only seems relevant to begin everything with the practicalities. Granted, one comes to travel, to search, but what is important too is a place to sleep and food to eat and, of course, knowing that one is safe and well-taken-care-of. For the traveller who…Read More
It only seems relevant to begin everything with the practicalities. Granted, one comes to travel, to search, but what is important too is a place to sleep and food to eat and, of course, knowing that one is safe and well-taken-care-of. For the traveller who wants it, we have the all the plastic money can buy. We have hotel chains, restaurant chains, four-lane highways. Montgomery sports a population of about a quarter million, so we have all the amenities that today's culture affords. We have two big malls, plenty of big grocery stores, and a main 'bypass' that encircles the whole city and is named after what part of the city one is in, e.g. Southern Boulevard or NorthEast Boulevard. If one really wants to do Montgomery justice though, they will avoid all of that. There a few very nice locally owned hotels, primarily the Madison Hotel downtown. There are a number of small local markets with delis, a few blocks with quaint shops scattered throughout town, and of course downtown where all the old establishment is. And if someone comes to Montgomery, they certainly come for history, for the Old South, for yesterday.
Of course, a car is absolutely necessary in Montgomery. The best little areas are often dispersed in such a way that there are not-so-good neighborhoods between them and beyond that a long, long walk. I don't mean a long walk for a housewife or a desk-jockey; I do mean a long walk. Montgomery summers average about 90 to 95 degrees during the day with 85 percent humidity and walking five miles through concrete is not fun and is not a vacation. Montgomery winters get around 50 degrees during the day but with the same humidity, so it is very uncomfortable still. Please do not think I am being silly.
Several years ago, the city decided that the public transportation buses were not profitable enough so they only run from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6p.m. Likewise there is no type of subway or elevated train system. To be fair to them, the cabbies around Montgomery are some of the finest people you will meet, but it still behooves a tourist or visitor to rent a car.
Montgomery is a very unorganized city. Zoning has been done very haphazardly and different areas can be confusing. Locals use many residential, two-lane, 25 mph streets as thoroughfares because they are the only realistic option. But for someone who does not know the neighborhoods, they can be difficult.
Some formerly-residential areas have been converted into business districts, too, so what may look like a nieghborhood may not be. But like I say, there are two interstates that run through the city and one four-lane that encircles the city and if they are used as a basis, getting lost is pretty difficult.
On the downside, there is only one bed-and-breakfast that I know of and I hear it is not very good at all. It is in the garden district on Hull Street if I remember right, but I have not heard any good things about it. As a matter of fact, it is less than a mile from where I live and I have never paid it any attention.
The best advice about travelling around Montgomery is: if it looks quaint and personal, it probably is; if it looks glossy and processed, it probably is; if it looks run-down and bombed out, it probably is.
Written by Barnburner on 06 Aug, 2000
Wherever anyone wants to stay in Montgomery is completely up to the individual. Some people like the comforts of national places and some want the quaint little B & B. But what anyone travels to do is get around and look around. Having a car…Read More
Wherever anyone wants to stay in Montgomery is completely up to the individual. Some people like the comforts of national places and some want the quaint little B & B. But what anyone travels to do is get around and look around. Having a car is of course essential. The airport is about twelve miles out on Highway 80, the infamous Selma Highway, the route taken to Selma in the Montgomery March. So, if you fly in and do not have someone to pick you up, you will need a car. Enough reinforcement of that fact...
Montgomery's good qualities are not just in town though. You have a lot of good things very close, and as a central point for day trips all over the Southeast Montgomery is great. Selma is 50 miles west, Atlanta three hours east, Mobile two hours south, Birmingham one hour north. There are plenty of things to do if the willingness is there to expand horizons a little bit. Also, Montgomery is a lot like larger cities. There are smaller communities all around that are worth taking a lot at with little local cafes, small downtown areas, and landmarks. Prattville (named for the inventor of the cotton gin, Daniel Pratt), Wetumpka (a small town bordering an Indian reservation and full of antique stores), Tallassee (home to one of the best small hotels in the South, the Hotel Talisi), and Tuskegee (home to Tuskegee University and the Tuskegee Airmen) are all less than half an hour from Montgomery. That is not to mention the small farming communities whose landscapes and rolling hills are worth seeing any time of the year. It is easy just drive around in the country and not get bored.
Without going into a tourist guide book description using too many of the same adjectives over and over, I can simply say that driving around the area is worth spending a day or two doing. Do not waste time asking many locals about things worth seeing because so many of us have looked at most of it for so long that it is taken for granted. One thing: take a map and be sure to have AAA because it is hard to get assistance out in the rural areas if you have car trouble, even for a local.
Written by Barnburner on 08 Aug, 2000
Montgomery's downtown area is relatively small but very well put together. Dexter Avenue runs right down the center of Montgomery, from Alabama's state capitol at the head of the street, to the city's most famous fountain at One Court Square. The name of the street…Read More
Montgomery's downtown area is relatively small but very well put together. Dexter Avenue runs right down the center of Montgomery, from Alabama's state capitol at the head of the street, to the city's most famous fountain at One Court Square. The name of the street may ring a bell with anyone familiar with the Civil Rights Movement because Martin Luther King Jr's own church was the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. This historic landmark is only one block down from the Capitol Building on Dexter. Dexter Avenue is not much of a hub anymore now that the city has moved a great deal to the east, but it is still the center of downtown. And to walk down Dexter and not stop in Chris's Hot Dogs would be a travesty. Dexter eventually turns into Commerce, which runs into the Riverfront. On Commerce is the Hank William Sr. Museum, the Civic Center, The old Train Station (where live concerts are held in the Train Shed) and the Riverfont Park. Down at the Riverfront Park, there is the Betsy Anne River Boat, which has the Blue's Cruise on the weekends, featuring blues great, 'Guitar Slim.' The best advice for enjoying downtown is not to go looking for one thing, one site, or one event. Just to go and look around. Besides Chris's, there is a great martini bar called the Olive Room and next to that is The Old Elite Cafe well suited for finer dining. Just for grabbing snacks or sandwiches is the Dexter Deli which is always good with tables on the sidewalk. For the real meat, though, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church really is worth visiting. I have heard plenty of stories about the 1960's and the blacks all hanging around the church because they knew that they would be safe there. The national law enforcement had intervened by the time things got heavy for them, but the church was always a safe haven. There is an aura in the church worth experiencing, a history worth knowing. The State Capitol is also worth touring and the Archive Museum is on the Capitol's side of Washington Avenue. All three of these historic buildings deserve more detailed descriptions---more detail than I could write about here---but I can say they are all worth seeing.Close
Written by Barnburner on 26 Oct, 2000
Stonehenge is the place to go for local artists. This art store, gallery and frame shop is located at the corner of Cloverdale Road and Decatur Street. Though the place is not very big, it is very full of paintings, sculptures, crafts, prints,…Read More
Stonehenge is the place to go for local artists. This art store, gallery and frame shop is located at the corner of Cloverdale Road and Decatur Street. Though the place is not very big, it is very full of paintings, sculptures, crafts, prints, and information about local history. As a plus, too, it is located at the end of a small, old row of store-fronts and down the line are gift shops like Apropos, antique stores like Sheffield's and a market and deli, Derk's Filet and Vine. It would not be hard to spend a whole day on this block of seven shops. Everything on this block is worth seeing.
Stonehenge is the place to go for local artists Clark Walker, Julia Stark and Bess Coates. But if paintings are too pricey, there are prints of old Montgomery landmarks for sale and out-of-the-ordinary furniture, candellabras, etc.
There is not a lot to say about Stonehenge itself, but as a place of interest of tourists and travelers, it is an important stop. It is what's inside that matters. From the Cezanne-like work of 62-year-old Clark Walker to the post-modern work of Bess Coates (CC Bess), an art lover can find original works that are truly very reasonably priced.
The beauty of Stonehenge is that it is a real old South art gallery. They will let you take the paintings home and decide if you really want them or not. If you decide the work does not go in your house, you can bring it back; if you like it, come back and pay for it. They are very, very good framers, as well, who give excellent, personal service.Close
Written by Barnburner on 19 Feb, 2003
King Kudzu is Montgomery's alternative monthly entertainment newspaper. It lists schedules, events, articles about local entertainment, and has tons of ads from local bars, restaurants, etc. If you roll into town, find a King Kudzu. They're free and 15,000 are circulated each month, so they're…Read More
King Kudzu is Montgomery's alternative monthly entertainment newspaper. It lists schedules, events, articles about local entertainment, and has tons of ads from local bars, restaurants, etc. If you roll into town, find a King Kudzu. They're free and 15,000 are circulated each month, so they're not hard to find.Close