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Safe Outdoor Running for Travelers in Mobile, Alabama

Updated on March 24, 2014

Dauphin Street & Government Street

Dauphin Street Homes in Midtown Beckon Beyond Broad Street

The beginnings of Midtown Dauphin Street.  These homes date to the 1800s.
The beginnings of Midtown Dauphin Street. These homes date to the 1800s.
Homes near the Salvation Army.  The one to the far left dates to the 1850s.
Homes near the Salvation Army. The one to the far left dates to the 1850s.
Midtown True is owned by celebrated Alabama chef, Wesley True.  It is in the Midtown section of Dauphin Street.   Another restaurant, Bistro Escoffier, is at the corner of Semmes Avenue further West.
Midtown True is owned by celebrated Alabama chef, Wesley True. It is in the Midtown section of Dauphin Street. Another restaurant, Bistro Escoffier, is at the corner of Semmes Avenue further West.

Safety of Dauphin Street and Government Street

As you look at the above map, which shows how Dauphin Street and Government Street begin at Water Street, you'll see an easy to navigate way to get around in town that is just East of I-65. Many visitors stay downtown in the luxurious hotels sadly only venture a few blocks from their hotels, and wonder, "Is it safe?" The answer is yes! In fact, many residents jog daily from their homes in Midtown down to Water Street and back. The best streets to do this on are Dauphin Street and Government Street. It is even fine to walk at night on Downtown Dauphin Street; however, I don't recommend walking anywhere else at night. Daytime is fine, but we do have a homeless population that you need to be aware of. I know plenty of residents that walk downtown from their close-by Midtown houses; I personally would not do that.

Dauphin Street downtown was always where the best shops were and the phrase,"Like walking on Dauphin" came about and meant something very fine, very nice. The elegant hotels are nearby on Royal Street (see video of the Battle House Hotel). As the city grew from the third largest port in 1830-1850 to the first street car suburbs in the early 1900s, Dauphin Street became where lovely homes were built by wealthy sea captains. Nearby Old Shell Road (between Spring Hill Avenue) became home to those involved in the growing and evolving shipping industry. Government Street, by contrast, featured even more elaborate homes belonging to the cotton brokers who divided time between New York City, New Orleans, and Mobile. Today, although there is some deterioration of the residential quality, these homes for the most part still stand to inspire us today and are worth seeing via a hike or jog.

Gothic home from the mid 1800s in gorgeous setting among azaleas, camellias, and live oaks.
Gothic home from the mid 1800s in gorgeous setting among azaleas, camellias, and live oaks.

Battle House Hotel Near Dauphin Street

Dauphin Street Beyond Broad Street

West of South Ann Street

This Queen Anne was built in 1897 during the last yellow fever epidemic in Mobile.
This Queen Anne was built in 1897 during the last yellow fever epidemic in Mobile.

Dauphin Street Hikes and Tours

It is possible to walk along Dauphin Street all the way to South Fulton Street to enjoy the residential scenery. Many who stay downtown may choose to walk down Dauphin to the halfway mark, which is roughly Broad Street (also known as Highway 90). This distance from Water Street to Broad Street is just under a mile; two miles total there and back. There are bars and restaurants, such as Wintzells (seafood) or OK Bicycle Shop(Mexican) even as far as Washington Street and it's a safe walk that many do. Many people see the resemblance to New Orleans and its French Quarter. To the North of Downtown Dauphin Street, it's fun to visit the streets of De Tonti Square, one of the first luxury historic districts. Walk these streets: Joachim, Jackson, Conception Streets to Adams Street. It's very safe, although once it wasn't due to the now torn down Orange Grove Projects.

Crossing Broad Street is easy and soon you are in a lush residential area known as Midtown. The distance from Water Street to South Fulton Street (about 3 miles one way) allows you to see different historic homes that date from 1840s to 1930s, with a range of styles from Bungalow to Colonial Revival to Italianate or even the local style- Creole Greek Revival. The sidewalks are not in as good of shape as Government, but you'll pass more locals exercising in the Midtown section.

This home dates to at least 1830s and is typical of Gulf Coast homes even before that date.
This home dates to at least 1830s and is typical of Gulf Coast homes even before that date.

Dauphin Street Versus Government Street

Dauphin Street
Government Street
 
More residential
More Commercial
 
Less Walk Thru Traffic
More Walk Thru Traffic
 
Narrow, Crumbling Sidewalks
Wide, well- cared for sidewalks
 
Former Sea Captains, Shippers
Former Cotton Brokers
 
Great Bars/Restaurants
Fast Food/ Grocery Stores
 
Some shopping downtown
Starbucks!
 
Free MoDa Trolley Bus
Museums nearby
 

Oakleigh Museum House Is Left of Government Street

Government Street Hike

President Woodrow Wilson visited Mobile, Alabama in 1913 and remarked to then mayor, R.V.Taylor to make sure Mobilians cared for Government Street and the mighty residences there. Unfortunately, not as much care was taken but there are still some grand dames still standing. R.V. Taylor's own home, built in 1830's by the Roberts family, is still standing near Broad Street beside the CVS store, with commercial properties ever encroaching on Government Street. It's hard to believe but Government Street once was exclusively residential, even in downtown. One famous Mobilian, whose home is now gone, was Alva Smith Vanderbilt; she was a daughter of a cotton broker, the usual occupation of those who lived on Government Street. Later she became the wealthy socialite wife of William K. Vanderbilt and went on to build Marble House in Newport.

This street has wider sidewalks than Dauphin Street, and similar to Dauphin Street, it's one mile one way approximately to Broad Street, two miles to S. Ann Street, and 3 miles to Houston Street. Also similar to Dauphin Street which has De Tonti Historic District to the North of it, Downtown Government Street has the historic district Church Street East to its north all the way to Canal Street. Both neighborhoods have a mix of residential with commercial enterprises such as law offices.

If you cross Broad Street, to the immediate left is the historic district Oakleigh Garden District. An excellent old time Irish (Callaghan's Social Club) pub is on Marine Street down a few blocks. Also to the left on George Street, you'll find 3 blocks down the Kitchen on George and also the bakery/coffee shop, Cream and Sugar. Also, in the same neighborhood off George Street, you'll find the Oakleigh Museum Complex (see video), a raised Greek Revival which dates to the 1830s. At that time, it was built outside the city limits.

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