Geography of Greensboro

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I thought it might be helpful to add some information about the geography of Greensboro.

The city is divided into quadrants by its two main streets. Elm Street runs north and south, and Market Street runs east and west. Street numbers start at these two streets; for example, the 100 block of West Market Street is the first block west of Elm Street. The intersection of Elm and Market is the “center of town”.

Northwest:

Northwest Greensboro was originally defined by country club developments (Irving Park and Starmount) and higher end development. At one point, part of this sector was a separate town, Hamilton Lakes, that was eventually merged into Greensboro.

This is the most desirable of the quadrants from a retail perspective, and includes the 50-year-old Friendly Center, Greensboro’s most prestigious regional shopping center. Primary commercial strips are West Friendly, Battleground, and Lawndale Avenues. Pisgah Church and New Garden Roads are growing commercial areas that had not really developed during the period this study covers.

Southwest:

Southwest Greensboro was the largest middle and lower middle class suburban area of the 1950s through 1970s. Earlier development had included working class Glenwood and the College Hill area surrounding UNC-Greensboro. The southwest is home to Four Seasons Mall, a very large regional center opened in 1974.

In recent years, the southwest has been increasingly inhabited by working class immigrants. It is currently the most ethnically diverse and integrated area of Greensboro, with middle- and working-class residents of all ethnic groups living side-by-side to a large extent. High Point and Randleman Roads, West Market Street, and Walker Avenue.

West Wendover Avenue is the “new frontier” and holds many of the chain stores that deserted the older High Point and Randleman Road strips.

Northeast:

Much of northeast Greensboro originally developed as a series of mill villages based around the various Cone Mills operations. Another large tract was first developed as an army base during World War II. Thus, the area has always had a very working class feel.

Attempts in the 1960s and 1970s to develop more upscale suburban tracts were largely unsuccessful, as evidenced by the always troubled operation — and ultimate failure and demolition — of Carolina Circle Mall, a regional center opened in 1976.

Summit Avenue in northeast Greensboro is home to Summit Shopping Center, Greensboro’s very first, built in 1950. Primary business strips in the northeast are Summit and Bessemer Avenues, and portions of Cone Boulevard and Church and Yanceyville Streets.

Southeast:

While some early development to the southeast was aimed at Greensboro’s white elite, the quadrant has generally been the poorer and predominantly African American side of town. This is the area most affected by urban renewal, and by poorly-planned public housing projects, although these also extend a mile or so west of Elm Street into the southwest quadrant close in.

Most retail in the small southeast quadrant has been centered along Asheboro Street (now Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) and South Elm Street. The area has traditionally been somewhat under served by retailers, and the problem has grown since the 1970s.