According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch archives, in 1948 the intersection of Cowardin Ave & Hull St was the busiest intersection in all of Richmond. The archives of the Richmond Times-Dispatch had the following to say about the photograph:
“This October 1948 image shows Cowardin Avenue at the intersection with Hull Street and Jefferson Davis Highway [Cowardin] in South Richmond. In August of that year, 250 businessmen petitioned to have “walk/don’t walk” signals installed at the intersection, which officials found to be the busiest in the city. Instead, seven other steps were recommended to improve safety, including new signs at corners, painted crosswalks and a pedestrian fence.”
It is still a very busy intersection, but today it is sea of 7 lanes on Cowardin, 4 lanes on Hull (on the south side of the intersection), a Church’s Chicken parking lot, a Rite Aid, a grass lot where a building once stood, and a Sunoco gas station. The aesthetic of the intersection has been completely changed-one might even say destroyed.
At one time the intersection used to have a temperance fountain, as we had shown in an earlier article. According to The Valentine and its history piece on Manchester entitled “Manchester: From Sister City to South Richmond”, the fountain was built in 1888 but disappeared sometime in the 1920s:
“Built in 1888, this drinking fountain provided passers-by with refreshment at Manchester’s busiest intersection. It later moved to Decatur Street, where the fountain’s pedestal stood for many years. The female figure later disappeared; some believe that she was removed during the early 1920s after being damaged during a storm.”
This high traffic intersection at Cowardin and Hull St is in desperate need of a statue, artwork, or some form of gateway to make the intersection more aesthetically appealing. As it stands right now, it couldn’t get much worse. We showed some ideas in a prior article where gateways have successfully been installed in other cities. Here’s to hoping the city agrees and does something positive to this eyesore.