From the time of its founding in 1871 until the end of the 1960’s, Birmingham was the primary industrial center of the South. Its leading industries were the production of iron and steel, making it known as the Pittsburgh of the South. In addition, both rails and railroad cars were produced in Birmingham, making it a significant hub of railroading. Between 1902 and 1912 four large office buildings were constructed at the intersection of 20th Street and 1st Avenue leading to the nickname of “The Heaviest Corner on Earth”.
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a 67.5 acre park with over 12,000 different types of plants in 25 unique gardens and more than 30 original outdoor sculptures. We were able to explore the gardens on a lovely early spring day.
Vulcan Park features the largest cast iron statue in the world, a 56 foot depiction of the Roman God Vulcan, the god of fire and forge. The statue, a reflection of Birmingham’s roots in the iron and steel industry, was created for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO. Following the World’s Fair, the statue was shipped back to Birmingham where it lay in pieces for 18 months before being erected at the Alabama State Fairgrounds where it became a figure for product advertising. In 1936, the Vulcan statue was moved to its present location atop Red Mountain.
Next stop: Gadsden, AL