Pratt City—where I barely passed my driver’s test at the DMV and a neighborhood with perseverance. After the April 2011 tornadoes, the community was heavily affected but continues to make strides into the new decade. Keep reading to learn about Pratt’s hidden gems.
1—Where is Pratt?
Pratt City sits to the west of downtown Birmingham and borders the northern area of Ensley. This community consists of six of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods:
- Central Pratt
- North Pratt
- Smithfield Estates
- South Pratt
2—A Little Bit About Pratt City
Some people call it Pratt City or drop the “city” and just call it Pratt. The area’s original name was Coketon and it grew rapidly in the late 1800s due to the Pratt Mines. It soon became the state’s largest mine complex by 1886.
Pratt City’s Carline District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 and was once one of Birmingham’s top commercial areas with a heavily used streetcar service.
By 1890, Pratt had over 4,000 ethnically diverse inhabitants that were mainly miners. The city was later annexed into Greater Birmingham and Pratt Mines closed. This caused a decline in economic activity but Pratt City continues to bounce back.
3—New Development After the 2011 Tornado
I’m sure we all remember the April 27, 2011 tornado that devastated much of Alabama. Unfortunately, Pratt City was in the destructive path which heavily affected the area.
“It was so knocked down, you would get lost, like ‘Hey, wait a minute. I remember something being here. Have I gone too far?'”Alonzo Darrow, Vice President of the Pratt Community
Almost 9 years later, the Pratt community has repaired what was lost. The One Pratt Park is a huge win for the area and reminder that there’s always sunshine after the rain. Constructed by the same people who introduced Railroad Park, One Pratt Park features state-of-the-art amenities including an amphitheater, misting pad, and walking track.
4—A Greenway to Connect Ensley and Pratt City
Pratt City was once known for its heavy industry. Although some industrial activity remains, the community has also embraced the creation of green space for residents to enjoy.
The Ensley-Pratt Greenway connects Avenue F in Ensley to Avenue W in Pratt. Its hard surface trail winds along Village Creek and is the beginning of a greenway that’s planned to span 26 miles across Birmingham.
It allows walkers, runners, bikers, and anyone looking to enjoy some fresh air, the chance to experience the creek which also happens to be home to the rare watercress darter.
5—Where To Get a Good Meal in Pratt City
Alabama Farmers Market
Operating since 1956, the Alabama Farmers Market sits on 49 acres of land in Pratt City. With hundreds of Alabama farmers, you can find seasonal produce that’s fresh and local. The market is proudly owned and operated by Alabama farmers without help of outside funds.
It’s estimated that the market sells $350 million of produce and anyone is welcome to sell what they grow after they become a member.
This tried and true, old-fashioned farmers market is located at 344 Finley Ave West. Whether you’re looking to cook with the freshest ingredients or stock up on local specialty items at the adjoining flea market, you can check out the array of items 7 days a week from 6AM to 5PM.
Jasmine’s Cafe may not be on your radar, but it should be. I guess you could consider it a hole-in-the-wall, but this small establishment serves big tastes. Their menu covers all your soul food cravings including pork chops, fried fish, turnip greens, yams, and even oxtails. They even received a 100 on their health inspection because they take your health and the food seriously.
If you can’t make it over to Jasmine’s Cafe, no worries. They are available on the Uber Eats app.
Niki’s West Steak and Seafood Restaurant
I’ll admit that I’m cheating a bit with this one but it just had to be included! To be fair Niki’s West sits right beside the border of the Thomas neighborhood of Pratt City. Since 1957, this iconic meat-and-three has been a Birmingham staple.
If you’re looking for a home-cooked meal with exceptional, speedy service, consider Niki’s West your best bet. This restaurant is such a special part of Birmingham, that even my elementary school would host field trips here.
My personal fave? The baked grilled chicken, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and cheesecake to finish it all off. You really can’t go wrong with their extensive menu. There’s something for everyone.
Where Can I Read About the Other Neighborhoods?
This article is the 17th installment in a 23-part series Bham Now is doing to feature Birmingham’s 23 communities, comprising 99 neighborhoods. So far, we’ve featured the following communities:
- Red Mountain
- Roebuck/ South East Lake
- North Birmingham
- East Lake
- East Pinson Valley
- Five Points West
- West End
- Airport Hills