520 Willard

35.994182, -78.907861

Cross Street
Year built
Year demolished
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The 500 block of Willard Street ran between Jackson St. and Yancey St., which terminated at Willard.

520 Willard, 1965.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

These houses were torn down by the city using Federal urban renewal funds (2/3) and the money of the good taxpayers of Durham (1/3).

The scope of the 500 block shifted in the 1970s with the construction of the hotel; the 400 block of Yancey St. was shifted northward to make more room for the hotel (actually for all of the hotel's parking) next to the freeway, creating discontinuity between the 400 and 500 blocks of Yancey.

Aerial photo of the blocks, 1959.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Same area from satellite, summer 2007.

Looking northwest at the former 500 block of Willard (Yancey intersected where the hotel driveway is) 02.10.08.


The contrast between those two overhead shots is probably the most striking of any that you've shown here. Quite dramatic, actually.

I clearly need to learn more about Urban Renewal (it was a bit before my time) since it seems to have had such a real impact on the lives of so many who have largely been denied a chance to speak about those experiences. A question, though: were Urban Renewal funds used to do anything that positively impacted the lives of Durhamites? From the looks of those two overheads it's hard to imagine.

Thanks for the great work!

anon got it right...this one is devastating.

Drat, now I've got a case of the Mondays!

I agree, the contrast between the before/after aerials here is amazing.

Sometimes I can understand (if not agree with) the reasoning behind the various urban renewal initiatives, but in this case I'm dumbfounded. While it's pretty clear from the "before" photos that there was a substantial degree of decay in these residential neighborhoods, was replacing them with such massive expanses of asphalt really the best idea that came to the table? Surely somebody must have stopped to ask if the resulting reduction in residential density could ever have supported life downtown.

In this case it's made even worse by the fact that those "luxury condos" now sit empty, nothing more than a blight themselves. As offensive as Univeristy Ford is, at least it's still in use.

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