The North End Historic District was the city’s first “suburban” development. Its first neighborhood, platted in 1878, was a small area covering only a few blocks between 9th Street and 13th Street, from Fort Street to Resseguie Street. Beginning in 1891, speculators began purchasing land in earnest, beginning a twenty-five-year intensive building boom.
The original lots subdivided in the district were relatively small, but building sites were created from one or more lots, creating a rich diversity in the pattern of site development. It is fairly typical to have had lots subdivided with dimensions of 122 feet by 25 feet except on corners with 30-foot widths. Most people at the time selected two or three, resulting in 50- and 75-foot frontages. In general, there are fewer buildings per block on the west side of Harrison Boulevard as compared to the blocks around 6th, 7th, and 8th Streets. Although the North End is predominantly a single-family neighborhood, small commercial areas, institutional uses, and multifamily housing have historically been part of the district.
The grid street layout with rear alleys, generous landscape parkways, and deciduous trees unify the district. Streets are parallel, aligned on a north-south grid over relatively flat terrain. There is only very slight variation in the size of the blocks and widths of the streets. Alleys run between the middle of most blocks. The North End was an early trolley neighborhood, and the lasting legacy of the trolley is the wider street sections along 15th, 18th, and 24th Streets.
The district derives and defines much of its primary significance and character from the grouping of early 20th century architecture. The character and vitality of the district is in its diversity of architectural styles, size of buildings and parcels, and mix of land uses. The North End was generally developed as a working- and middle-class neighborhood, so modest homes predominate, although there are some larger homes.
An early pattern of leapfrog development left vacant lots, which were later filled in with contemporary architectural styles. Consequently, a variety of architectural styles, mixed throughout the district are represented, including simple clapboard dwellings, Queen Anne, Bungalow, Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, and Ranch Style. Building materials include local sandstone, brick, and wood.
From the early days of the district, North End developers and property owners planted trees. Mature trees provide a canopy over most streets and a continuous pattern of color and texture.