Some colorful north Alabama roadtrip inspiration
Many historic downtowns look their best in the summertime. This is certainly the case the downtown Huntsville. Flowers, sunshine, a park with a lake and elaborate 19th century structures are a great combination that you will find in the old part of the city.
This article features over scenes from the following downtown Huntsville treasures:
- Big Spring Park
- The public square
- Twickenham Historic District
- Old Town Historic District
Big Spring Park
The park, which had already been a beautiful and fascinating green space for decades, has been improved recently along with most of the surrounding properties. The improvements include expanded sidewalks/walking paths, benches, street lamps and landscaping. They also renovated the famous red foot bridge.
The city is named for John Hunt who settled in 1805 near to where spring water emerges from the base of a rocky cliff. The park’s best features are the spring itself along with the canal and lake into which the water flows. The east end of the park where the spring is found is adjacent to the historic public square. The rear side of a striking c. 1835 bank building is found at the top of the cliff above the spring.
You can make your way from the squar to the spring and canal by going down some steps. Take a look at the part of Big Spring Park between West Side Square and Church Street:
The canal passes under Church Street and empties into the picturesque manmade lake that’s surrounded by the Von Braun Center complex, new hotels and the Huntsville Museum of Art.
Big Spring Park lake
The original red bridge was a gift from the nation of Japan. It’s one of the best places to get a good look at ducks and geese, and also the abundant schools of koi carp. The canal and lake are full of the Chinese fish.
At the southwest corner of the lake you’ll find a new tunnel that allows you to walk along the canal as it passes under Monroe Street to the Von Braun Center complex. You’ll find the Thrasher Memorial Fountain on the west side of Monroe and a beautiful path that goes all the way to where the canal empties into Pinhook Creek.
Here’s a few photos of the sights between the tunnel and the creek:
The Huntsville downtown public square
The 210-plus year old city’s public square is at its best when the green shade trees and blooms are at their peak in the months of June through September.
See more photos of the public square and other historic Huntsville sites on my article, Huntsville historic places part 1.
If you take a summer sidewalk tour of the public square, you should consider also enjoying the adjacent streets such as Washington Street.
A summer Washington Street scene
Twickenham Historic District summer streetscapes
Known primarily for it’s big inventory of early 19th-century houses, naturally the amazing Twickenham Historic District is also home to a great number of beautiful lawns and gardens. The streetscapes go on and on, and if you choose to take a sidewalk tour of any street in the district, you will not be disappointed.
Much of the district is within walking distance of the public square. Check out this gallery of some of the highlights:
To learn more about my personal favorite Alabama historic district, see my article, Huntsville historic places part 2: Twickenham Historic District.
Old Town Historic District in the summertime
Just north of Twickenham, Huntsville’s Old Town Historic District is home to about 140 houses that were built between 1810 and 1910, and another 80-plus that were built between 1910 and 1930. There’s also a historic school.
Without a map that outlines them, it’s hard to tell where the Twickenham HD ends and the Old Town HD begins. That doesn’t matter. As a whole, it’s slightly less manicured, but an Old Town sidewalk tour is equally fullfilling for anyone who enjoys historic places, popular 19th century architecture or lovely streetscapes.
I hope you enjoy these photos showing some of the visual highlights from the summer of 2020 in the Old Town Historic District: