Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Echoes of an Era Past

In terms of a manufacturing past, Raleigh pales in comparison to the gritty, once bustling tobacco town of Durham to the west. Nonetheless, an entire area abutting the railroad tracks on the western fringe of downtown Raleigh remains as a towering testament to our own city’s industrial past. The landmarks are everywhere throughout this area known as Raleigh’s Warehouse District — from a former Cotton Oil Mill, an abandoned coal yard, a defunct concrete plant, the old Southern Railway freight depot, to the most ubiquitous example: The Dillon Supply Co. buildings.”

There are a number of nightclubs and bars interspersed through the area: Buckhead Saloon, White Collar Crime, Club Mosquito, Five Star, among others. If you’ve traveled to any of these, then you have navigated through the nondescript giant brick structures that for the most part sit vacant. There’s one in particular that has always puzzled me though, and it’s also the least visible.

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Denizens of the Coal Yard

Not long ago I wrote about the Boylan wye, and described what remains of that former downtown train switchyard and industrial district. Today the most prominent relic there can be easily seen from the Boylan Ave bridge — a rusted cement plant gravel hopper towering over the site. But virtually invisible to most observers today is the weed-choked and debris-strewn sunken area that is the footprint of the former Smith Coal and Oil Co. coal yard.

This is a view of a portion of the Boylan wye from the bridge in 1970. The concrete plant is on the left and the coal yard is just right of center, below the two box cars. The present-day photo at the top shows the tracks the boxcars were parked on in 1970. The remnants of the coal yard are just to the right of these tracks.

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Medianeras In Raleigh

Medianera is a Spanish word used to describe a wall shared by two buildings. In Barcelona it is frequently used to describe a wall of a building that retains characteristics or artifacts of an adjacent building that has been torn down. One of the most easily noticed is the one off of Wilmington Street, as seen above.

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