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April 11, 2000

Mobile: Then and Now

Then Now
(Click on a photo to see a larger version)

by Tom McGehee

When the 20th century dawned, Government Street passed beyond this railway station, terminating at the banana houses lining the riverfront. The street to the left is Commerce.

This is the Louisville and Nashville Railroad station which contained waiting rooms, a lunch room, baggage storage and a communication center, complete with telephone here at its south end.

In the distance is a three-story building housing the wholesale meat packing giant, Armour Packing Company. It also houses the offices of the United Fruit Company which is enjoying a booming market in banana importation.

By 1904 Mobile was the third busiest port in the banana trade. Within nine days of harvest in Central America, bananas could be on the market shelves in Chicago via Mobile. Trains carrying bananas were given precedence over all others on the line -- including passenger.

Urban renewal and the interstates changed this portion of downtown Mobile and nothing from the earlier view has survived. Even Commerce Street has been absorbed into the re-routed Water Street, and the Mobile Convention Center dominates the waterfront today.


Credit: Wilson Collection, Historic Mobile Preservation Society


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