Mystery Photo - 08.03.09

36.015993, -78.891462

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"Northgate and Bypass areas flooded by Heavy Rains - 02.14.52"
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)


looks like it could be across the interstate from Duke Park--the neighborhood that backs up to 85

Can't put my finger on it, but could it be looking north from former Highway 70 Bypass (now I-85??) towards the houses on Higbee St, with a flooded Ellerbee Creek in the foreground?

I wondering if it is exactly what it says? Northgate St. Neither Northgate Mall nor its predecessor Northgate Shopping Center existed in 1952. 70 Bypass ran where I-85 is now, but it was only two lanes.

Before the latest expansion of 85, there were houses on the south side of Ruby St in the 800 block.

As late as the 1980's, I can remember South Ellerbee Creek overflowing its banks after any heavy rain, and sometimes forcing a closing of Club Blvd. around Northgate Park.

I don't believe that the whole neighborhood was commonly referred to as "Northgate Park" until at least the 1980's. (The Durham Architechural and Historic Inventory, published in 1982, just lumps the whole area together as Bragtown and Northern Durham.) So if the paper said "Northgate," I'm betting it means the street or the park.

While I agree with John about the area not generally being called "Northgate"...a quick streeview in Google would seem to indicate that it is likely Higbee, per Andy. The placement of brick vs. siding homes corresonds to what is on Higbee currently (from Club Blvd. moving West on the South side of the street [rear-facing to 70/85], brick-siding-siding-brick-siding-brick). I, too, thought it probably meant Northgate STREET, but the houses there just don't match up. Of course, 57 years later, things just might be a little different. :)

Sadly, in trying to do a streetview in Google from I-85 to Northgate St., all one sees is A BRICK WALL. In visiting Durham this past summer for the first time in many years, I was struck by how "prison-like" it was to be driving through on I-85. It seemed like the whole danged city was walled in, like a prison. Very unfriendly. I understand the concept of noise reduction, but the overall impression made me just want to keep driving.

The phrase "You can't go home again" never seemed so apropos.

Urg, this'll teach me to proofread before posting, since I can't edit afterwards!

"... (from Club Blvd. moving West...)" was a dumb error, it should be "(from Roxboro Road moving West...)"

Sorry, folks. :(

If this is correct, to give credit where credit is due, I think that's what BarryN was getting at in post #1, I just fleshed it out a little...

As soon as I saw the pic, I thought, 'Higbee Street'! The reference to Northgate should be the neighborhood-referred to as Northgate Park.
My late Uncle, George Rigsbee(d.1991), lived at 104 Higbee St. I'm pretty sure that his house was the second from the left in the pic. The street in front of his house turned right on Farthing. I suspect that this pic was taken at the bridge crossing Roxboro St. right across from where the Chesterfield Motel used to be.

It's difficult to see with the creek up so high, but that creek bottom was pretty far below his back yard. Perhaps it was dugout at some point to eliminate this flooding? I remember it getting pretty full, but never this bad. By the late '70s I used to mow his grass, and several times a year I would have to go down to the creek bank to cut the weeds off the bank. From his backyard I could look towards Roxboro and see the tunnels going under that road-probably where this pic was taken. The recent expansion of I-85 severely cut into the backyards along Higbee St.

If you look at, there is a street view pic for the 104 Higbee Street home.

Thanks for posting this one!

Seth Roberts

On my follow up view, I can't figure out why there would have been utility lines bordering what appears to be Ellerbee Creek.

Any thoughts?

The "Ellerbe Creek Flood Control Project" constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers straightened and channelized Ellerbe Creek. Construction occured between Septmber 1960 and August 1961. The project began at Hillandale Golf Course (upstream) and ended at the County line (downstream).

We used to have picnics at the park on Club Blvd back in the 1950s and we called the park "Bird Sanctuary."

Bing (formerly Live) map's bird's eye view supports Lynn's suggestion. Note especially the progression of the siding she mentions:

Thanks to you all - Higbee St. does seem right. Thanks for posting the Bird's Eye, David. I'm not sure I'd previously paid attention to the size of Ellerbee Creek running along the north side of I-85. I imagine what a pretty view it must have been, once upon a time pre-bypass, with the bluffs of Duke Park to the south. The 1927 comprehensive plan for Durham describes this area as "comprise[ed] [of] a great variety of natural scenery, some of the finest in Durham - rugged bluffs and deep ravines, as well as smooth meadows."


Two creeks join each other in this area. Here's a shot of the confluence of South Ellerbe and Ellerbe, near Higbee. See sixth image...

This photo was taken about twelve years ago (before NCDOT widened I-85).

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