The White Palace Cafe

Today’s Zippy takes us to a commercial street scene:


This posting is about the cafe and its context. In the spirit of earlier Zippy diner, cafe, and motel postings.

The scene is from a few years back in Gadsden AL, on Broad St. A photo from this period:


A handsome building, looking good on the street. Both the street and the building been nicely kept up.

At some point, it was the White Castle Cafe (with nothing to do with White Castle burgers); when the White Palace closed, the name was whited over.

By 2014, when the Google street view was created, The cafe had become the Twisted Bar and Grill (the name Twisted has replaced Cafe on the storefront):


The buildings seem to have maintained themselves over time, but the businesses filling them have clearly changed again and again.

Gadsden’s story is both sad and inspiring. From Wikipedia:

Gadsden is a city in and the county seat of Etowah County in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is located on the Coosa River about 56 miles (90 km) northeast of Birmingham and 90 miles (140 km) southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee [more or less smack in the middle of the state] … As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 36,856 [about 37k; for comparison, the population of Palo Alto CA was then about 66k, and Auburn AL was around 59k]

Gadsden was at one time in the 19th century Alabama’s second most important center of commerce and industry, trailing only the seaport of Mobile. The two cities were important shipping centers: Gadsden for riverboats and Mobile for international trade. Through the 1980s, Gadsden was a center of heavy industry, including the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and the Republic Steel Corporation.

And then, of course, the heavy industry curled up and died. But people resisted letting the town just fall into disrepair and energetically worked to maintain, restore, and improve it. The Gadsden Miseum of Art (privately owned), just up Broad Street from the White Whatever Cafe, is a focus of this effort. Among its holdings in this painting:


Museum caption: Wyatt Waters captured the art deco [vintage 1931] green-and-black front of a White Castle Cafe from the mid-twentieth century

Yes, small, provincial, and awfully earnest. But with a certain charm.

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