Today is Birmingham Day! The Magic City was established 148 years ago on December 19, 1871

Birmingham, Vulcan, Vulcan Park and Museum, Museum Day
The Vulcan statue watches over Birmingham. Photo via Vulcan Park and Museum

Happy 148th birthday Birmingham!

On this day, December 19th, 1871, the city of Birmingham was incorporated by the state of Alabama. In 1925, the Birmingham City Commission officially adopted December 19th as Birmingham Day.

Birmingham, Alabama Skyline
Birmingham, Alabama skyline. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Nicknamed “The Magic City”, Birmingham rapidly became Alabama’s largest city and an economic powerhouse built on mining and steel.

The city  grew from a population of 3,086 in 1880 to 259,678 in 1930.  In 1960, the  city’s population topped 340,000.

Lakeview Park and Lake 1890s
Lakeview Park on Birmingham’s Southside in 1890s. Photo courtesy of Bhamwiki.com

In the late 50s & 60s Birmingham was the epicenter of the American Civil Rights movement. The non-violent protests of the civil rights movement in Birmingham  “took down” the Jim Crow laws and spurred the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

16th Street baptist Church
16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Today, the city has become a home for innovation, growth and development. The city’s  largest employer, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) is a world class health research and health care institution tackling the AIDS and diabetes epidemics.

UAB
UAB Hospital. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Culturally, Birmingham has become a mecca for fine dining and for culinary innovation- from BBQ to Frank Stitt’s James Beard Award winning Highlands Bar and Grill.

Highlands Bar and Grill was featured by TripAdvisor. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Once known as “Smoke City” because of its air pollution, Birmingham is now recognized nationally for its green spaces, such as  Railroad Park.

Birmingham
Birmingham, AL. Photo via @elevatedimageryservices

Birmingham  also has within its boundaries TWO nature preserves- Ruffner Mountain and Red Mountain- that are larger than New York City’s Central Park.

Red Mountain Park
Aerial view of Red Mountain Park, Birmingham’s largest public nature preserve spanning over 1500 acres. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

A place of reconciliation, Birmingham gave birth to the internationally renown  Birmingham Pledge and is now home to the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

A.G. Gaston Motel opened 65 years ago, July 1, 1954. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now

Bottomline, it’s the people of Birmingham that make this place special.  This city has produced  Willie Mays, Condoleezza Rice, Dr. James Andrews, E.O. Wilson, and many, many more everyday folks who make Birmingham truly magical – The Magic City.


  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.