Surviving Clusters of Shotgun Houses

Birthplace of Elvis – shotgun house in Tupelo, MS – Source:

The shotgun house, or shotgun shack is an easily recognizable long and narrow residential dwelling style that was most commonly constructed in the Deep South and along/near the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys in the decades between the end of the Civil War and start of World War II.  With African and Haitian roots, these vernacular structures are most often synonymous with New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite numerous losses from Hurricane Katrina, a 2007 book published by the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans indicates more than 25,000 still exist throughout the city.

Shotgun houses of New Orleans – Source:

Second to New Orleans, the largest cluster of these historic and functional dwellings can be found in Louisville, Kentucky, where more than 8,000 remain today. Beyond these two nodes, there are smaller clusters located in a number of cities and towns. The list provided below identifies those located by the author through internet searches. It is not meant to be all-inclusive, but as a centralized database from which to compile a more complete and accurate list.  Any and all additions or corrections to the list are always welcome.

Row of brick shotgun houses in Louisville – Source:

While researching these fascinating homes, it became apparent that if done correctly, shotgun homes could be an excellent option for providing workforce and/or affordable housing to many locales currently lacking such “missing middle” housing. Their narrow and linear footprint is conducive to urban and rural situations, particularly narrow urban lots or for infill developments. Variations include the traditional single barrel style, double barrel which is essentially two shotgun houses side-by-side, and an camelback, which has a second story in the mid-section of the shotgun house. On the interior, shotgun houses most often contained between two (2) and four (4) bays for living purposes, each extending behind the next and traditionally without an interconnecting hallway.

Typical floorpan – Source:

Three (3) new developments of shotgun houses were also identified during research and are included in the list below – I am sure there are others. These have been or are being developed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Ozark, Alabama. Other communities are seeing the benefit of restoring their existing stock of shotgun houses both as a form of revitalization and for providing middle-income housing opportunities. Save Our Shotguns in Apalachicola, Florida appears to be a leader in this kind of effort.

New shotgun houses in the Freetown section of Lafayette, LA – Source:

Hopefully, more cities will strive to preserve their iconic shotgun houses.  They serve not only as a historic reminder of yesterday, but also as a potential solution to the affordable housing issues of today. More on that topic in a follow-up blogpost. Peace, my friends.

Neighborhoods with Clusters of Shotgun Homes

  • Allendale in Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Arsenal Hill in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Baker Street Bottoms in Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
  • Bayou St. John in New Orleans
  • Beauregard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Bethlehem in Augusta, Georgia
  • Blankenship Homes in Ozark, Alabama – new development
  • Brownsville in Pensacola, Florida
  • Butchertown in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Bywater in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Cabbagetown in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Cairo, Illinois
  • Campground Historic District in Mobile, Alabama
  • Carondelet in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Central Avenue in Madison, Indiana
  • Centennial Hill in Montgomery, Alabama
  • Cleveland Street in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Clifton in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Creekside Creole Cottages in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – new development
  • Davis Bottom in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Delmar-Lema in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Dorothea Gardens in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Dunbar in Little Rock, Arkansas
  • East Highlands-Bonny Doon in Columbus, Georgia
  • East Wilson Historic District/Vick Street in Wilson, North Carolina
  • Elmwood Park in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Esplanade Ridge in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Evergreen Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Farish Street Historic District in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Faubourg St. Roch in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Filipinotown in Los Angeles, California
  • Freedman’s Town in Houston, Texas
  • Freetown-SpringHill in Lafayette, Louisiana – new development
  • French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Frenchtown in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Garden District in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Garvinwood/East Indiana Avenue in Evansville, Indiana
  • Germantown in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Germantown in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Germantown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Greenlaw in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Happy Hill/Humphrey Street in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Harrisburg (Fenwick Street) in Augusta, Georgia
  • Highland Park Mill Village in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Hill/Northside in Apalachicola, Florida
  • Historic Bottoms in Columbus, Georgia
  • Hollygrove in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Holy Cross in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Hyde Park in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Jackson Square in Covington, Kentucky
  • Lincolnville Historic District in St. Augustine, Florida
  • Main Street in Vicksburg, Mississippi
  • Mechanicsville in Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Merrimack Hill Historic Village in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Mid-City in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Midtown in New Albany, Indiana
  • Martin Luther King NHP in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Near South in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Northwest Historic District in Quincy, Illinois
  • Northwest Quadrant in Beaufort, South Carolina
  • Oakley Street in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Old North in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Old Town North in Key West, Florida
  • Overtown in Sarasota, Florida
  • Paducah, Kentucky
  • Peabody Street in Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Phoenix Hill in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Pleasant Hill in Macon, Georgia
  • Pleasant Street Historic District in Gainesville, Florida
  • Portland in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Reynoldstown in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Roanoke Park in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Rock Springs, Wyoming
  • Salem Town in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Sand Springs Widow’s Colony in Sand Springs, Oklahoma
  • Scott Street in McKeesport, Pennsylvania
  • Seville Historic District in Pensacola, Florida
  • Shotgun Row in Covington, Kentucky
  • Smoketown in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Smokey Hollow in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Spanish Town in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Strawberry Hill in Kansas City Kansas
  • The Hill in St. Louis, Missouri
  • The Nations in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Third Ward in Houston, Texas (may have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey)
  • Tindall Heights in Macon, Georgia
  • Treme in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Vance-Ponotoc in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Ville Historic District-Billups Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Walker Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Walltown/Berkeley Street in Durham, North Carolina
  • Watts House Project in Los Angeles
  • West Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida
  • Westside in Port Arthur, Texas (may have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey)
  • West Tampa in Tampa, Florida
  • Woodlawn Historic District in Natchez, Mississippi
  • Wyatt Street in Waxahachie, Texas
  • Ybor City State Museum in Tampa, Florida
  • York Street Historic District in Newport, Kentucky


Posted in adaptive reuse, Africa, architecture, art, cities, culture, density, diversity, economics, geography, historic preservation, history, homelessness, Housing, humanity, infrastructure, land use, new urbanism, placemaking, planning, revitalization, spatial design, Statistics, urban planning, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interstate Injustice: Plowing Highways Through Minority Neighborhoods

I-35E bisecting Oak Cliff – Source: September 18, 1961 – Tom Dillard/The Dallas Morning News

The list provided at the end of the post is a partial tally of the once vibrant, historically Black and Latino neighborhoods that have been largely decimated by Interstate Highway construction. Much of this community displacement and destruction took place in the height of the freeway construction era in the 1950s through 1970s, by cutting large swaths of concrete through America’s inner cities.

One the most devastating projects was the construction of I-95 through the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, where more than 10,000 residents were uprooted by the highway. But Miami was certainly not alone, as cities across the country used the Interstate Highway construction boom as a mandate to clear away neighborhoods largely populated by the poor and minorities in the guise of urban renewal, slum clearance, or economic development.

More often than not, the actual outcomes were dead zones in the cities, white flight to the suburbs via sprawl development, and freeways used as concrete segregation barriers to keep the so-called undesirables hemmed into a defined area. Instead of living on the wrong side of the tracks, many minorities and poor whites now lived on the wrong side of the Interstate.

I-4 in Orlando separating the Paramore neighborhood from downtown: Source:

Despite all the historical evidence, similarly unjust, short-sighted, and discriminatory highway projects continue to be proposed and built today.  This is evident by projects like I-49 which is proposed to plow through the Allendale neighborhood in Shreveport, Louisiana and enormous Interstate Highway widening projects in Tampa, Florida and Denver, Colorado.

“Nearly 80 percent of the registered voters living at properties that Florida’s Department of Transportation plans to demolish are black and Latino, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis.”

And it’s not just the forced removal that decimates these neighborhoods, but also the long-term health impacts of the new or expanded highway on those residents who remain after the project is completed, as this quote from the Denver Independent notes.

“The Sierra Club cites a 2014 Denver Environmental Health Department report which says that residents in the north Denver neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 experience a 70 percent higher mortality rate from heart disease than those neighborhoods in Denver not affected by highway pollution. The report also found that children in areas near I-70 have a 40 percent greater frequency of severe asthma-related urgent care visits compared to other parts of Denver.”

Instead of repeating past mistakes, as Shreveport is doing with a new highway through Allendale, cities and state highway department should be concentrating on correcting them or avoiding future dislocation of urban minority populations. Unfortunately, Shreveport will eventually find out that carving up the heart of your city leaves it hollow. That’s why some unjust highways segments have been removed altogether or placed underground across the country – Boston, New York City, Seattle, and Milwaukee can all attest to this.

An urban fabric is much more delicate than one might think. Like any woven tapestry, tearing and ripping at even the tightest weave will cause it to unravel. While many cities of the Rust Belt and Northeast are still trying to restitch themselves back together, growing cities in the South and West should be learning from those harmful historical lessens, lest they repeat them and end up in the same deteriorated condition a generation from now. Peace.




Akron, OH   

Shelbondy Hill (Lane-Wooster)


Atlanta, GA  



Atlanta, GA 

Old Fourth Ward

Freedom Parkway (never built)

Baltimore, MD

Harlem Park

I-70 (never built)

Baton Rouge, LA

Old South Baton Rouge


Birmingham, AL



Charlotte, NC



Chicago, IL



Cincinnati, OH

West End


Columbus, OH

Near East Side

I-71 and I-70

Columbus, OH

Mt. Vernon

I-71 and I-670

Dallas, TX

Tenth Street


Dallas, TX

Oak Cliff


Dallas, TX

Freedman’s Town

US 75/I-345

Dallas, TX

Lincoln Manor

US 175

Dallas, TX


US 175

Dallas, TX

Little Mexico


Denver, CO



Denver, CO


I-25 and I-70

Detroit, MI

Black Bottom


Detroit, MI

Paradise Valley


Durham, NC


SR 147 (former I-40)

Indianapolis, IN



Lansing, MI

Near South


Little Rock, AR

Ninth Street


Los Angeles

East LA

multiple freeways

Los Angeles

South Central


Macon, Ga

Pleasant Hill


Miami, FL



Milwaukee, WI



Montgomery, AL

Centennial Hill


Montgomery, AL

Bel Air


Montgomery, AL

The Bottoms


Nashville, TN

North Nashville


New Orleans, LA

N. Claiborne Ave.


Oakland, CA

West Oakland

I-880 and I-980

Oklahoma City, OK

Deep Deuce


Omaha, NE

North Omaha

US 75

Orlando, FL



Pittsburgh, PA

Hill District


Portland, OR



Richmond, Va



St. Louis, MO



St. Paul, MN



Shreveport, LA


I-49 (proposed)

Spokane, WA

East Central


Syracuse, NY

15th Ward


Tulsa, OK



Waco, TX



Washington, Dc



Winston-Salem, NC



4/12/18 Addendum: Four (4) additions since publication of the above list include the following:

Corpus Christi, TX – Hillcrest – I-37

Corpus Christi, TX – Washington-Coles – I-37

Jacksonville, FL – Fairfield – Alt. US 90

Knoxville, TN – Mechanicsville – I-40 and I-275


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Is your community a bully?


The title of this post may sound odd, but I am convinced that the persona of certain communities is to act like bullies towards their counterparts on the local and regional stage. In reality, this assertion shouldn’t be so strange as nation’s have bullied one another for centuries. Sometimes the bullying is endemic over an extended period, while at other times it’s based on a single administration’s actions. I’ve observed both in my career.

There are several means for a city, town, township, or village to be a bully. Among them are:

  • Using their population, prestige, wealth, and/or voting power to constantly get their way.
  • Taking actions which are overtly or covertly to their benefit, often at the detriment of their neighbors or the region.
  • Speaking out on topics that impact other communities in a manner that exudes self-interest versus common good.
  • Chastising other communities or individuals both in person and behind their backs.
  • Refusing to participate in a regional effort because it does not benefit their community enough.

I am sure there are other examples that could be listed, but you probably get the point by now.

So…how do you deal with the local or regional bully. That’s a good question. To a certain extent it depends if the bullying is a one-off situation or consistent trend. But just like bullying between people, there are some best practices to follow:

  • Don’t overreact – stay cool, as the bullying community will sooner or later make a mistake and look bad in the media’s/public’s eye.
  • Ignore them – easier said than done, as bullies often are trying to illicit a response. If you or your community don’t respond/react, their power is lessened. Let them be/look like the fool.
  • Tell them to stop – be firm and steadfast. Back channels might be a good initial route, but if that doesn’t work, direct channels may be necessary.
  • Do not fight back – either your community will end up looking foolish too or it will make the bullying community feel more empowered.
  • Find a go-between – consider reaching out to other area communities or organizations like a municipal league or chamber of commerce to act as a go between.
  • Build alliances – work around the bully community by building alliances and friendships with other communities in the area/region. Sooner or later the bully community may realize their attitude is causing them to be ostracized and hopefully lead to them being more cooperative.

Any other ideas or suggestions are welcome. It is hoped that communities (and nations) can start to set better examples when it comes to bullying. Young people do not need to see, read, or hear about examples of bullying when they too often have to deal with it themselves in school. As adults, we should be setting a better example of civics and civility for all to follow. A little peace, love, and understanding would do everyone and society in general, a lot of good.

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Stand Up for Avra Valley!

Avra Valley from Saguaro National Park (West Unit)

Stand Up for Avra Valley!

Midst a scenic desert valley
a freeway is planned to flow
more useless sprawl and chaos
whose outcome we all know

This Sonoran panorama
is a treat for jaded eyes
seducing all who view her
‘neath those brilliant blue skies

A first trip to this landscape
will cause your heart to flutter
with glimpses of Arizona
before it fills with clutter

A treasured realm of nature
spreads forth in grand repose
dotted with tall Saguaro
in their striking graceful pose

Vistas that stir our conscience
abound from this great place
Tucson Mountain to Ironwood
are gifts you can NOT replace

Sacred and spiritual
historic and sublime
Avra’s cultural essence
is the ideal paradigm

But greed, wealth, and pressure
fueled by backroom politics
keep Avra on the radar
with puzzling little tricks

It’s just another freeway
more miles of stark concrete
What could possibly happen
when the Interstate’s complete?

Bulldozers by the hundreds
would scour this mighty plain
by tearing it asunder
in a militant campaign

Noise, glare, and vibration
would be the new calling card
gone are her days of wonder
left tattered, torn, and scarred

Thousands of tiny boxes
will rise from scattered seeds
strewn across this basin
like machine-built tumbleweeds

Gridlock and more congestion
will become regular routine
Drivers could not imagine
this place was once serene

Destroying creation’s realm
when alternatives exist
is heinous to the utmost
and why we must resist

Foundations are in place
without building yet anew
along present corridors
much less-costly to pursue

Floodplain and water sources
occupy this narrow route
Why build amid these features
posing danger, risk, and doubt?

Our duty is to save her
from harbingers of doom
By protecting this fine Eden
she’ll forever stay abloom

Stand up for Avra Valley
let voices be overheard
It’s time to show the powerful
the passion of our words!

by R. Fleet Brown – 2018

If you wish to stand up for Avra Valley, here are a few of the groups that are fighting the good fight on its behalf. Peace!

Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
738 N. 5th Ave., Suite 212
Tucson, AZ 85705 (USA)
+1 520-388-9925 or

Friends of Ironwood Forest
738 N 5th Ave, Suite 114
Tucson, AZ 85705 or 520-628-2092

Friends of Saguaro
2700 North Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743
(520) 733-8610  or

Sierra Club Rincon Group
738 N 5th Ave #214
Tucson, AZ 85705
(520) 620-6401 or

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Advice from a Saguaro cactus

Came across this list on a bookmark of all things. A little fun on a Friday evening.

  • Stand tall
  • Reach for the stars
  • Be patient through the dry spells
  • Conserve your resources
  • Think long term
  • Wait for your time to bloom
  • Stay sharp!

Who knew saguaros were so insightful? Well done!

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Let’s stop dissing deserts!

In response to a recent post about “transit deserts” on The Market Urbanism Report’s Facebook page, I made the following comment:

“I think we need to rethink using the term ‘desert’ to describe an area lacking something. Deserts can be gloriously beautiful, rich, and vibrant ecosystems. How about ‘transit vacuums’ instead?”

Ever since the term “food desert” became popularized, it seems that “desert” is the term du jour for describing anything that’s lacking. Personally, I find this to be a grossly unfair and inaccurate use of the word “desert.” It is also dangerous to the protection and preservation of these beautiful ecosystems.

Sonoran Desert dusky winter scene

Anyone who has ever visited the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, California, and Mexico can tell you it is an amazing ecological wonder that is filled will a diverse range of flora and fauna. Here’s a brief summary of how many species call this gorgeous desert landscape their home:
  • 60 species of mammals, including the only jaguar in North America
  • 350 species of birds
  • 20 species of amphibians
  • 100+ species of reptiles
  • 30 native fish species
  • 1,000+ native bee species
  • 2,000+ native plant species, including the only place in the world where you will find the majestic Saguaro cactus

Even the vast Sahara Desert of North Africa contains more than 2,800 species of vascular plants, while the Atacama Desert in South America is much more diverse ecologically than one would expect given its extreme dryness.

My suggestion is the term “vacuum” be used instead of “desert.” includes the following in the definition of “vacuum:” a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void.
This seems like an appropriate word for what we planners are trying to relate to the public and decision makers, without dissing an entire fragile ecosystem in the process.
The greatest danger associated with applying a negative connotation to an entire ecosystem, is that we begin to diminish its importance and need. That’s exactly the kind of poor rationale (or excuse) that was used to drain those “pesky, mosquito-filled” wetlands, marshes, and swamps back in the day…and still today. Let’s not accidentally open Pandora’s Box to such environmental mistreatment for the Earth’s amazing deserts.
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Arizona DOT ponders paving over paradise


The Avra Valley as seen from Saguaro National Park with Ironwood Forest National Monument visible in the distance (mountains).

Are they NUTS? Among the alternatives being considered by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for future Interstate 11 (I-11) are two (2) options that would loop it west of Tucson through the stunningly gorgeous Avra Valley.

Who in their right mind would consider bulldozing an expressway through a beautiful and virtually pristine valley corridor bordered by Saguaro National Park (West Unit), Tucson Mountain Park, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on the east and the Ironwood Forest National Monument on the west? Apparently land speculators, developers, builders, and some politicians don’t seem to care how beautiful it is as long as they can make money. It is almost like they are saying, “To hell with scenic beauty and the associated tourism dollars it attracts, when we can defile the natural landscape while making a buck.” I cannot think of a more selfish and egotistical way of thinking.

Screenshot map from the ADOT Study shows the alternatives being considered for future I-11 near Tucson. Options C and D would pass through the Avra Valley.

There are a number of alternative routes originally under consideration including piggybacking future I-11 with existing I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson, with a double-deck freeway built in portions of Tucson – at a cost of $2 billion less than going through the Avra Valley, I might add. This option is shown as Alternative B (blue) on the map above.

If future I-11 must extend beyond Phoenix (it was originally only intended to connect Phoenix with Las Vegas) I do not see a better option than co-shielding and aligning future I-11 with existing I-10. This is especially true given the many significant scenic vistas and environmental, historical, and archaeological sites located along and near the route(s) of Alternatives C and D. Both would pass through the Avra Valley and are shown in lime green on the map above.

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the nation, but at what point does paving over paradise destroy the beauty that drew folks there in the first place? In my opinion, Phoenix is largely beyond the point of no return. Tucson, however, is an entirely different story. But, throw in another busy highway corridor west of the city and the careful balance that has been achieved between city and nature could be irreversibly harmed.

What strikes me as even more reckless is that Alternatives C and D would pass right over/by several of the City of Tucson’s primary groundwater sources (see CAVSARP and SAVSARP on the map above). Want to guess how much chaos and catastrophe an overturned semi-truckload of hazardous chemicals could cause there? Heck, why worry about potential terrorists when risky highway projects are being planned virtually on top of public drinking water supplies, especially in a desert environment where such supplies are limited?

Add to that the fact that Alternatives C and D would also cross large areas of floodplain (shown in light blue and pink on the map above) and you a yet another recipe for disaster.

Toss into these issues the increased light pollution from traffic and new development and its negative effects on the Kitt Peak, Mt. Lemmon, and other important astronomical observatories. Do they really want to forever tarnish Tucson’s role as an astronomical research center for a few more miles of freeway and urban sprawl?

All said, as a professional land use planner, I cannot think of a worse location for a new highway. It’s almost like reading a dystopian novel or watching a James Bond film with ADOT as the evil villain. One hopes and prays that reason and logic would prevail, but in our world where only money talks, one can never be sure of anything.

The Sonoran Desert is not a giant child’s sandbox to play in and reshape in whatever manner we human’s desire. It is a delicate living ecosystem filled with amazing creatures and living organisms that should be cherished and preserved. One only need visit the desert or review Pima County’s award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan to see this.

If you agree with me and think Alternatives C and D for future I-11 are a really bad idea, then please write, email, call, text, or speak to elected officials, appointed officials, and other concerned citizens in an all out effort to stop the desecration and destruction of the Avra Valley. Contact information for some of these folks are listed below. It is time to say…and if necessary repeat over and over again, the word NO!


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