Seeing the revitalization of downtown and our city’s notable culinary scene, there is no doubt that Birmingham is now booming into an amazing place. Everyone must be so proud that even people outside of Birmingham are noticing that the “Magic City” has it’s magic back. So here are some of the interesting things you should know about Birmingham and its surrounding areas before your visit.
1. Birmingham is the “Magic City”
Birmingham’s nickname refers to a period of rapid growth between the 1870’s and 1880’s. It is when the city seemed to grow so quickly that it appeared to have happened “like magic” over night.
2. Birmingham Is A Hotspot For Outdoor Adventure
Paddle boating at Oak Mountain, zip lining at Red Mountain, tube floating down the Cahaba River, with all these exciting activities, you really won’t have an excuse to stay indoors on a beautiful day. The best part? You need not leave the Birmingham city limits just to experience the great outdoor adventures. We have one word for you: TopGolf!
3. The Vulcan Statue is Birmingham’s Pride and Joy
This enormous, cast iron representation of the Roman god of iron Vulcan is more than just a symbol. It is considered to be Birmingham’s pride and joy. Vulcan Park and Museum is known for hosting one of the biggest Fourth of July firework shows which certainly displays a breathtaking view of downtown.
4. Experience a Lowkey (and low cost) Way of Living
The overall cost of living in downtown Birmingham is incredibly low compared to similar cities. Based on the recent studies of Forbes and Kiplinger, Birmingham ranks as the 12th most affordable metro area and fifth most affordable for renters. Amazing isn’t it? What’s even better is that you have all these amazing shops and restaurants within walking distance, just with less traffic and congestion than bigger cities.
5. Sloss Furnace May Seem Creepy, But It’s An Exceptional Place To Catch a Show
Haunted-looking it may seem, but the smokestacks of Sloss Furnace are certainly hard to miss. Despite being recognized as the country’s only 20th century blast furnace that was turned into a historical site, still it remains as a prime venue for concerts, festivals and conferences all throughout the year. Then there’s the Sloss Fright Furnace that’s sure to spook the heck out of you each Halloween.
6. Birmingham – the World’s True Man of Steel
Yes you’re right! Superman does exist. Well, sort of…Birmingham is unique as far as we know in that it’s the only place on earth with steel, coal, limestone, and iron ore available in abundance within a ten-mile radius.
7. Birmingham was named after Birmingham, UK.
Back in 2015 there was an article published by the BBC titled “10 British Things About Birmingham, Alabama,” calling out, among other things, the city’s Doctor Who fan club, The Jane Austen Society, the Etiquette School of Birmingham, and the Birmingham Museum of Art’s collection of Wedgwood pottery—the largest in the world outside of Britain.
8. Birmingham is Alabama’s Largest City
The population of Birmingham is approximately 212,000 which makes it Alabama’s largest city—for now. However, according to census projections, in 10 years Huntsville is expected to take the top spot.
9. Baseball isn’t the Only Game in Town.
Some of the most famous athletes came from Birmingham. Carl Lewis, born in Birmingham, won 10 Olympic medals (nine of them gold) in the track and field. Bobby Bowden who built Florida State’s football dynasty, the fourth-winningest college coach (303-85-4) and made the best bowl-winning percentages.
10. Birmingham is the Home of the “Heaviest Corner on Earth”
During the 20th century, a magazine article about the corner of 20th Street and First Avenue, was released, where four massive skyscrapers—then the South’s biggest buildings—had recently been constructed. This is where the nickname “Heaviest Corner on Earth” came from.
11. Athletic Or Not, Everyone Joins A GoKickball Team
The GoKickball league is a must-try among every resident in Birmingham. Kickball is more of a social scene than the sport though. Every weekday evening following the quarter of each game at George Ward Park, kickball players swarm Innisfree, a small Irish pub in the Lakeview area. The best part is that league participants can get in for free!
12. The City’s Best Cliff View
If you love to trek up to the top of a mountain, Ruffner Mountain is best for you. It is one of the largest urban nature reserves in the United States where the hiking trails are dog friendly. Aside from that, you will get the chance to see an aerial view of the metro that’s truly unmatched.
13. Birmingham is Home of The Country’s Most Dominant Collegiate Athletic Conference
You’re right—the Southeastern Conference Headquarters are located in the heart of downtown Birmingham. You may not be a fan of the SEC now, but you will definitely learn to love it if you’ll stay in Birmingham. You basically have to pick a side to live here…Alabama or Auburn.
14. “Over The Mountain” is the Local’s Point Of Reference
The expression “over the mountain” is a fancy way of referencing the city’s more affluent areas of Homewood, Hoover, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills, which lie just south of Red Mountain.
15. Holidays are not Complete Without the Alabama Theatre Christmas Series
Every winter, you can watch the show of special Christmas movie series, together with pre-movie sing-alongs on the theatre’s original Wurlitzer theater organ at the Alabama Theatre. The best place to catch the Alabama Symphony, classic movies and killer concerts.
16. Big Apple in Birmingham, AL?
The founder of Liberty National Life Insurance Company originally commissioned the replica of the Statue of Liberty in 1956 and even stood proud over the company’s downtown headquarters until 1989. Who says you still need to head all the way to NYC just experience the Big Apple feels?
17. The World’s Largest Motorcycle Museum is Here!
Guinness World’s Largest Motorcycle Museum, Barber Motorsports Park, is located just outside city limits. During the last couple of years, it has made many facility improvements making it a quarter-million square feet of automotive history. Whoah!
18. The Oldest Veterans Day Celebration is in Birmingham
Birmingham’s Veterans Day Parade that is being held each year during the holiday is the longest running Veterans Day parade in the entire country.
19. Art On The Rocks, The City’s Most-Anticipated Annual Event
This is an evening full of gallery walks, gourmet appetizers, cocktails and performances from regional musicians like St. Paul and the Broken Bones—so what’s not to love?
20. Our City is Home to a Vibrant list of Local Breweries
The ‘free the hops’ movement finally brought an end to Alabama laws that were relics from the prohibition era. This paved the way for the dozens of craft breweries we all know and love today.
21. Birmingham Offers the Perfect Gourmet Popsicle
It is only in Birmingham where you can find an all natural and locally harvested popsicle store which is known as the Steel City Pops. This store offers seasonal flavors such as strawberry balsamic, blueberry basil, and buttermilk. This local chain is the coolest place to chill out in the face of sweltering southern heat.
22. The City is the Birthplace of Infamous Idols
It’s no surprise that Birmingham is home to home to three stars from the infamous American Idol TV show: Ruben Studdard,Taylor Hicks and Bo Bice. Certainly, the city is known for its world-class musical talent.
23. Birmingham is home to the nation’s oldest baseball park, Rickwood Field
Since 1910 this park has been visited by baseball legends like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson, Lorenzo “Piper” Davis, Willie Mays and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
24. The Alabama Theatre has the Shows you shouldn’t Miss
The Alabama Theatre is one of only a few of 1920’s movie palaces which are still in operation. The “Mighty Wurlitzer” wind instrument still rises from below the arena floor for live accompaniment for screenings and different events.
25. Birmingham had a Major Role in America’s Civil Rights Movement
It was in in the year 1960s wherein the Birmingham’s role in the America’s Civil Rights Movement has placed the city at the center of the most significant domestic drama of the 20th century.
So there you go! 25 things you probably didn’t know about The Magic City. Whether you’re just visiting or planning to move there, we hope to have helped you plan your next adventure sightseeing in Birmingham. Cheers!