Birmingham is Alabama's largest city. It is also know as the Magic City. The Metro Birmingham Area consists of Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair, Blount, and Walker counties. Together the 5 counties have an estimated population of approximately 1,000,000. For many years, the name "Birmingham" was synonymous with the steel industry. The natural occurrence of coal, iron ore, and limestone in this area created the ideal conditions for steel production, and furnaces appeared as early as the 1850s. The city that supplied Confederate troops with ammunition during the Civil War grew wildly in the 1870s, when two railroads appeared, making it possible to transport the products of the many furnaces. The Depression, however, slowed the town's steel production in the twentieth-century. Though Birmingham recovered during World War II, Japanese competition eventually ended the city's dominance as a steel center. Now, many industries compete in this former steel town. The service industry exists side-by-side with medical and commercial industries.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, founded in 1969, is a public university and medical center complex. It also is home to an internationally known Medical Center recently ranked 3rd behind only The Mayo Clinic and Massachusetts General nationally. Programs are offered through the Schools of Arts and Humanities, Business, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Health-Related Professions, Medicine, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Optometry, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Public Health. The 265-acre campus is located six blocks from downtown Birmingham and covers 70 city blocks on the southside between 20th St. & I-65. UAB employs over 10,000 and has a student population of approximately 15,000.
While the University of Alabama in Birmingham qualifies as the state's largest employer, the city has also become Alabama's leading
financial center, with both AmSouth and Southtrust
headquartered here. Important scientific and medical research and treatment emanate from Birmingham as well. Another world famous company headquartered in Birmingham is HealthSouth, athletes from all over come to Birmingham for their services
Standing atop Red Mountain and overlooking the city is the 55 foot tall statue of Vulcan , Roman God of the forge. Created as Birmingham's exhibit for the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, he came home to reside in his own park, where he has become Birmingham's best-loved monument since 1938. Vulcan holds an electric torch that glows green unless someone in Birmingham has died in an automobile accident. Then it turns red for a day. The statue of Vulcan was in the Palace of Mines Metallurgy where it represented the iron and fuel industries of Alabama. Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world, and in the United States is second in height only to the Statue of Liberty. Vulcan Park is currently closed for restoration of the deteriorating Iron Man. Estimated cost for repairing Vulcan is around $11 million.
After 62 years atop Red Mountain, the 95-year-old statue will get a much-needed vacation starting 9/22/99. Vulcan will take a year to 18 months off from his double duty as the city's most famous landmark and traffic fatality monitor. Over the next 10 weeks, Vulcan will gradually be erased from the Birmingham skyline. His departure will be followed by the disappearance of the marble exterior of the tower, exposing the original stone tower built in 1936. Other improvements include restoration of the original fountain and steps leading up to the tower and construction of a visitor center. While work is going on at the park, Robinson Iron Corp. of Alexander City plans to clean, recast and coat the statue's pieces at its facility. This is also expected to launch a corporate fund-raising drive to raise the remaining $7 million needed to pay for the renovation. The McWane Foundation would then give the final $2 million to the project. A new Vulcan logo also will be unveiled. The Vulcan Park Foundation will use it for sanctioned fund-raising efforts and other events. The Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation will present the almost $140,000 it has raised in its Vulcan Fund since an inspection in January uncovered serious problems with the statue.
Those wishing to contribute to the Save Vulcan Fund can send donations to the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, P.O. Box 10127, Birmingham, AL 35202-0127.
Contributors should indicate the money is for the Vulcan fund. Donations are tax deductible.
Arlington Antebellum Home
Older than the city itself, this orginal Greek revival structure was built between 1845 and 1850. Arlington serves as a museum of southern decorative arts and is open for tours and tea !
The concentration of plants, flowers and landscape design features the conservatory, the largest glass greenhouse in the southeast, and the Japanese Gardens. 20 gardens of differing chracter and plant concentrations organized in a series of rooms under a master landscape plan.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
The centerpiece of the city's historic civil rights district is the state-of-the-art facility housing exhibits that depict historical events from post World War I racial separation to present day. More than just a museum, the institute promotes on-going research and discourse on human rights issues through it's archival and educational seminars.
The Birmingham Zoo
Wild discovery, fun and excitement at the Birmingham Zoo, one of the largest zoos in the southeast. Over 1,000 exotic animals exhibited in indoor and outdoor naturalistic habitats. Food, gift shop, miniature train, and picnic areas.