A Brief History of Birmingham, Alabama
Though Birmingham stands in the heart of the Deep South, it is not an Old South city.
Founded in 1871 at the crossing of two railroad lines, the city blossomed through the early 1900s as it rapidly became the South's foremost industrial center. Iron and steel production were a natural for Birmingham; underground lay abundant key ingredients---coal, iron ore and limestone. As an industry town, Birmingham suffered greatly in the Depression. After World War II the city grew moderately while retaining its strong Southern character.
At the same time a profound movement toward diversification was afoot. The huffing and puffing of Birmingham's legendary iron and steel mills was gradually replaced by a work force of medical and engineering professionals. Today, Birmingham enjoys a balance of manufacturing and service-oriented jobs in a thriving work force.
Sites to Visit in Birmingham
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) documents the struggle of African-American citizens in Birmingham to becoming full participants in the city's government and business community. Because this struggle was a social movement that caught the attention of the world, Birmingham is an appropriate place for an institution that serves the world as a center for study and reflection. (Source: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute)
Vulcan, Birmingham Alabama's colossal statue is the world's largest cast iron statue and considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States. Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904, it has overlooked the urban landscape of Alabama's largest city since the 1930s. (Source: Vulcan Park and Museum)
The Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark provides Alabamians with a site in which to mark the beginnings of industrialization in Alabama, and it provides Americans from every state with a place in which to visualize the process of iron-making that has been vital to our nation's economy for over a century. (Source: Sloss Furnaces)
The Birmingham Museum of Art, one of the finest regional museums in the United States, houses a diverse collection of more than 24,000 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and decorative arts dating from ancient to modern times. The collection presents a rich panorama of cultures, featuring the Museum’s extensive holdings of Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art. (Source: Birmingham Museum of Art)
The Gardens' 67.5 acres is filled with more than 25 thematic gardens, each one classified into one of three types: Gardens of Collections, Gardens of Nature and Gardens of Culture. (Source: Birmingham Botanical Gardens)
The Birmingham Zoo is Alabama’s most popular attraction, drawing more than 500,000 visitors annually. Approximately 750 animals of 250 species call the 122-acre Birmingham Zoo home, including sea lions, kangaroos and endangered species from six continents. (Source: The Birmingham Zoo)