Beginning in the 1950s, urban renewal and interstate highway construction became central issues for cities. The design of Shepard Road as the central link from downtown to the airport and points west and south required that the Upper Levee, home to vital components of the West End community since the 1850s, be cleared, infilled and prepared for potential industrial use. At Seven Corners, the Civic Center project went forward with the clearance of block after block of buildings, without much attention to whether any of them merited preservation.
Community development efforts over the last sixty years illustrate the tenacity and dedication of different elements of the community. From the 1950s and 1960s to today, a collaboration of active community organizations has devoted time and energy to education, social services and support, project development and, in some instances, resistance to proposals deemed bad for the community.
The West 7th/Fort Road Federation, formed by active and organized citizens in 1973, has been instrumental in ensuring the community’s growth, redevelopment, and sustained success over the years. A number of volunteers and outreach projects such as West End Arts, the West End Neighborhood Gardeners, West 7th Community Center, Community Reporter monthly newspaper, West 7th Business Association and its neighborhood enhancement group, have all responded to the needs and emerging issues facing the West End community.