The Way We Were: 1980s Broad Street

This is what Broad Street looks like if you are a bird. Or Batman.


This view from three decades ago, looks down from the corner of Lamar Building and takes in the highlights of the 700 block, including the former Richmond Hotel and the Confederate Monument.

Believe it or not, Broad Street used to be much broader – one of the widest streets in America. Chronicle archives indicate that at one time it was 300 feet across. That is a football field.

It was so wide that in the early 1900s a fair called Merry Makers Week set up their carnival grounds in the middle of the street between Sixth and 10th.


MEMORIES RECALLED: “The heartbeat of Broad Street is felt in hundreds of ways,” said a Jan. 1. 1956 article in The Chronicle. “If Broad Street does well, the metropolitan-rural balance in adjacent counties is a happy one.”


DO YOU REMEMBER? What do you recall about Broad Street? How has it changed. Send an e-mail to


Last week, we showed a panoramic aerial photo showing downtown in the late 1950s. Here are some memories that image inspired.



My grandparents lived at 326 Broad for years. My grandmother strongly opposed the building of the Gordon Highway, and that may have been the only letter to the editor she ever wrote. I found their house in the photo, two-story, a few houses below (east of) Fourth St., with five tall chimneys sticking up. Despite the five fireplaces, it was always cold in winter. My aunt called her room “Blizzardville.”

Jean Strickland



In 1954 my mother started working at the old county courthouse. Following my tap dance lessons at the YWCA on Greene Street, I would walk to the courthouse to ride home with my mother. My most vivid memory of the courthouse building was the floor. It was wooden, painted dark brown, and creaked as people walked in the halls. This just doesn’t happen in modern buildings! Later when the marble courthouse was completed, a favorite activity was riding the elevator to the ninth floor and viewing the city from this new vantage point.

Ann Farmer



The article caught my attention because during the building process of Gordon Highway some of the houses were moved. The house I grew up in was one of them. I was wondering if you may know where I might get information on this. Our home is still in the family and I always had a great curiosity about its history. I think Barton Salvage did the moving.

– Debbie Saxon



The train station was a part of my families’ life for we were always seeing someone off, or greeting someone coming or boarding a train to travel to the Washington, D.C. area, my mother’s family home. The platform area had a most ornate iron fence, it was dark in the terminal and the noise and smell of smoke from the engines was terrible. The noise from the engines as the trains pulled into the terminal shed was deafening. The sight of the large menacing engines was frightening to a small child, as the ground shook from the weight of the train. Frightening but exciting and there by I developed a love for train travel.

Mary Byrd

The Way We Were: 1950s downtown