Alabama - Birmingham


To see the entire city at once, head to Vulcan Park on Red Mountain. This oversized lightning rod is Vulcan, and he has a shiny new elevator that costs very high admission prices to ride to the top. You can see well enough from the bottom.

Clear shots of downtown to the north, then looking a bit to the east. Birmingham has long been an industrial city, so with the decline of industry there is a lot of related infrastructure that sees less use, or at least less of its original use.

The old Alabama Power Company building typifies what you see just a block or two from downtown. The tall buildings in the skyline are really all that's going on commercially.

Driving by the Sloss Furnaces, unfortunately closed Mondays or else I'd have stopped in for many more photos. These blast furnaces churned out iron and steel to fuel Reconstruction and drive one of the only industrial cities in the South for decades. In fact, the furnaces only closed in 1971, and that was probably fortuitous in that the value of historical preservation had gained a foothold by that point, making this the only 20th century blast furnace in the world. Many of the facilities on site date to the 1920s, America's heyday, and the grounds support both the furnace museum and active uses such as recreation and performances.

Kelly Ingram Park, site of many civil rights demonstrations, some of which were met with violence. The events of the 1960s are memorialized through sculptures around the park, which I'll present to you on my walk around:

The theme of the park after it was rededicated in 1992 is "A Place of Revolution and Reconciliation." Those two R words are engraved here.

This could symbolize intimidation or the quiet murders of blacks by whites. The fact that it's on the other side of a thick wall symbolizes how it was masked both from and by society. There's nobody behind the gun - everyone was responsible for what occurred.

Not safe for children, these statues have legitimately sharp teeth. White policemen used dogs on barely restrained leashes for crowd control, and could conveniently lose their grip if needed or desired for a chuckle. Firehoses on full blast were also popular (though not to those on the receiving end).

A few of the memorials to key civil rights figures.

Two sides of one sculpture, the left resembling a jail window but overturned, reading "Segregation is a sin," as if to overturn the atrocities of American racial history. On the right, the door is open and African-Americans stand defiantly, declaring "I ain't afraid of your jail."

As seen from Kelly Ingram Park and walking closer, the famous 16th St. Baptist Church, site of the 1963 bombing that killed four young black girls and local headquarters for civil rights protests, rallies, and other events.

More views. Among the stained glass windows, on the south side of the church, is one depicting a black Jesus (which is closer to historical accuracy than a white Jesus, but the main point is relevancy to the congregation) donated from Wales after the bombing.

Architectural details.

Outside the church, a statue to Birmingham resident Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (with King and others) and one of the main figures in the Civil Rights movement.

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