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Boylan Heights
Photo by Santiago Hernandez, courtesy of BoylanHeights.org
In the first decade of the new century, the population of "Greater Raleigh" grew by about 40 percent, to 19,218 inhabitants by 1910. In 1907 the Raleigh city limits were expanded for the first time since 1857, extended one mile in each direction from Union (Capitol) Square. This rapid growth and transition from a predominantly agrarian society and economy to an urbanizing, industrializing one was reflected in the development of three suburban neighborhoods dating from this decade. Between 1906 and 1910, Glenwood, Boylan Heights, and Cameron Park were platted to the northwest, southwest and west of Raleigh's city limits, respectively. Set on land that was once the site of great plantations, these suburbs represented new patterns of landholding and tenancy.

In overall design, the neighborhoods embraced natural features--creeks, valleys, richly forested areas of deciduous and evergreen trees--giving them a sylvan appearance, yet each was directly linked to downtown via thoroughfares or new streetcar lines. Beyond them, amusement or city parks came to be developed, offering a recreational transition from town life to the surrounding countryside.

Smaller lot sizes echoed the changes being wrought by growth, industrialization and urbanization. Families no longer needed large tracts for sustenance; utilities and trade eliminated the need for numerous outbuildings. People could literally confine all activity to a single dwelling and still have a yard and garden on a small plot.

The people attracted to the neighborhoods were, for the most part, not the old wealthy families of Blount or Hillsborough streets, but those newly ascended to the middle class. They were from the growing service and support professions for the state, the educational institutions of the city and the growing commercial class. And, in an age when restrictive covenants prevented African Americans from buying lots, the ownership of these neighborhoods was exclusively white.

[photo] Estey Hall, on the Shaw University campus
Photo by Michael Zirkle Photography, courtesy of Raleigh Historic Development Commission

As a response, South Park became a black suburb by virtue of its location near Shaw University. South Park originated out of the Moses Bledsoe estate south of the old city limits, an area virtually uninhabited prior to 1865. By the time of its development between 1905 and 1910, the area had streetcar service connecting South Raleigh to downtown Raleigh and the rest of the city, which made its development desirable.

The idea of suburbs, as it had emerged in America after 1850, and especially as propagated by Town and Davis, and by Olmstead and Vaux, was based on the desire to remove people from unpleasant urban life to a picturesque, sometimes romantic, rural-like setting. These amenities were achieved by controlled density, heavy planting, parks, walks, natural features of great beauty and an architecture commensurate with those features which emphasize the rustic, romantic and evocative.

Hayes Barton Historic District, one of Raleigh's Five Points Neighborhoods
Photo by Elizabeth Alley, courtesy of Raleigh Historic Development Commission

This pattern of development continued in 1912, when the streetcar was extended north from the western edge of downtown along Glenwood Avenue through farmland and woods to Bloomsbury Amusement Park, further from what was quickly becoming a crowded city. The Five Points neighborhoods (Bloomsbury, Georgetown, Hayes Barton, Roanoke Park and Vanguard Park) display a variety of architectural styles. The diversity in style is unified by the curvilinear streets and naturalistic settings established in Raleigh in the earlier suburbs, and exemplified in the Hayes Barton neighborhood, designed by Earle Sumner Draper, a preeminent New South landscape architect.

Despite continued changes in modes of transportation and architectural styles, the development patterns exemplified in these early suburban neighborhoods are reflected in much of the subsequent development in Raleigh.

 [graphic] Early History Essay  [graphic] Suburbanization Essay  [graphic] Preservation Essay
 [graphic] African American Essay
 [graphic] Modernism Essay

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