10 surprising facts you didn’t know about Birmingham!

November 4, 2022 · 20th Street, Culture & History, Engage, Visit

New to Birmingham, or maybe you’re going on a date with a Birminghamian? Here are some fun facts you will be sure to impress friends, dates, and coworkers!

1. There’s magic in the ground!

Birmingham is historic! You might be familiar with the nickname “The Magic City,” but do you know why Birmingham gained this phrase? In 1871 the city was founded, and by the turn of the 20th century, Birmingham grew so fast that residents claimed the town sprung up by magic!

2. Birmingham has the heaviest corner on Earth.

You heard that right, the “Heaviest Corner on Earth” is in the heart of downtown. An early 20th-century magazine article claimed the term when the four biggest skyscrapers (at the time) in the southeast were constructed – The Woodard Building, The Brown Marx Building, The Empire Building, and the American Trust and Savings Bank Building.

3. Iron City is one of a kind.

The city sits in Jones Valley, famously known for being one of the only places in the world to find all the ingredients to make iron – coal, iron ore, and limestone. At the height of its growth, Birmingham was one of the biggest cities down south in the early 1900s.

Did you know a single steel rope just two inches in diameter can lift about 320,000 pounds, which is about the weight of a blue whale?

4. Vulcan is the largest iron statue in the world!

The Roman god of fire and forge, Vulcan, is perched atop Red Mountain which symbolizes the birth of the iron and steel industry. The statue was a project to initially advertise Birmingham’s iron industry at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. Vulcan is an 18-piece puzzle that stands 56 feet tall. A full-size elephant can fit inside just his head!

Vulcan is betrothed to the Divinity of Light, Electra, which stands on top of the Alabama Power Building. You can read more about their love life from the Birmingham Post, The Love Story of Vulcan And Electra: A Romance of Birmingham.

5. Birmingham on the moon?

Look up at the moon, where you can find a crater named Birmingham after astronomer John Birmingham who discovered it in 1866. The infamous song “The Stars Fell on Alabama,” sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and even Jimmy Buffet, refers to the Leonid meteor shower observed in Alabama in November 1833.

Did you know these STARS are Birmingham natives -Courtney Cox, Fannie Flagg, and Ruben Studdard?

6. Birmingham is home to the biggest Veterans Day parade in the US.

Veterans Day is no joke in Birmingham, as it’s the country’s oldest and largest Veterans Day celebration! Before Veterans Day, the holiday was Armistice Day, commemorating the end of the First World War. Raymond Weeks, a Navy vet of the Second World War and Birmingham native, petitioned Dwight Eisenhower in 1947 to expand Armistice Day into Veterans Day. The holiday would celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. Weeks formed the first Veterans Day parade that year, and he eventually got Veterans Day acknowledged as a national holiday in 1954.

7. The Magic City is on the west coast!

Birmingham used to be the second largest street car city in the states after San Francisco. Today, San Francisco still operates one of the infamous Magic City streetcars, the Birmingham Electric! Beneath the pavement, you can still find the remains of tracks all around the city. You can learn more about how a Birmingham-themed streetcar ended up in San Francisco here!

8. BHM baseball for the win.

The oldest baseball field, Rickwood Stadium, is in Birmingham! Home to the Birmingham Black Barons, the team was among the most successful in the Negro Southern League. Leroy “Satchel” Paige and Willie Mays were baseball legends who played for the Black Barons. Today, you can visit the Negro Southern League Museum at 120 16th St. S.!

9. From Japan to Alabama…

Birmingham has a sister city in Hitachi, Japan! Birmingham has sent Hitachi a 10-foot replica of Vulcan, also displayed in a park overlooking the city. In return, Birmingham received large stone lanterns, which can be found at the Botanical Gardens.

10. Bigger than Central Park!

Red Mountain Park is a 1200-acre public space, making it one of the biggest urban parks in the country. It’s 40 percent bigger than New York City’s Central Park! The last active ore mine on Red Mountain Park property closed in 1962 and remained untouched for nearly 50 years until the development of Red Mountain Park. The Park is covered with the remnants and artifacts of a remarkable mining history that can be seen along most of our trails and attractions.

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