Today is a very special day—Birmingham’s birthday! On December 19, 1871, the beautiful city of Birmingham was incorporated by the state of Alabama. To celebrate Birmingham Day, we’re sharing 15 things you might not know about the Magic City.
1. Rickwood Field is the nation’s oldest professional baseball stadium
In 1910, the innovative owner of the Birmingham Barons, Rick Woodward, built Rickwood Field. The field was originally built for the Birmingham Barons, but it soon became home to the Birmingham Black Barons.
You might recognize Rickwood Field from popular baseball movies like “Cobb” (1994), “Soul of the Game” (1995), and “42” (2012). If you prefer to watch baseball in real life, Rickwood Field is home of the “Rickwood Classic” where Barons players dress in period uniforms.
2. Birmingham has a namesake across the pond
Did you know Birmingham, UK is our sister city? Birmingham, Alabama got its name from the English city, but we have even more than our name in common.
Both Birminghams were industrial. Birmingham, UK was the industrial hub of England, and Birmingham, Alabama has the nickname “Steel City” and “Iron City” because of its close proximity to all three materials for making steel.
Anglophiles don’t have to head to the UK to learn proper etiquette for afternoon tea. The Etiquette School of Birmingham offers etiquette courses and lessons for taking tea.
Aside from etiquette, the Magic City has the second largest collection of Wedgwood outside of the UK. You can check them out at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
3. The World Games 2022 will take place in Birmingham
What better way to celebrate Birmingham Day than to look forward to the city’s future? Our countdown is on because The World Games 2022 will take place in Birmingham.
The event follows the Summer Olympics and features 11 days of competition for over 3,600 international athletes. Plus, UAB professor Dr. Panion will be the Artistic Director for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Games.
4. Birmingham has produced some of our favorite actors, entertainers, and writers
Every time you watch Courtney Cox in “Friends” or listen to Gucci Mane, you’re enjoying a few of Birmingham’s talented citizens. Other notable Birminghamians include Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris, outstanding basketball player Charles Barkley and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
On this Birmingham Day, we also want to celebrate the amazing Birmingham citizens whose names we might not know: our healthcare workers, essential workers, educators and everyone doing their part to help Birmingham throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Celebrate Birmingham Day by learning about the haunts in the Ham
In 1986, organist Cecil Whitmire and a singer believed they saw a ghost while rehearsing at night. Who did they think the ghost was? Stanleigh Malotte, the previous organist of the Alabama Theatre.
6. CNN Travel spotlighted Birmingham as a surprising foodie city
7. Legion Field is the home of the Magic City Classic and the original home of the Iron Bowl
No matter who you’re cheering for, chances are you enjoy football as much as we do. Legion Field was the original home of the Iron Bowl from 1948 to 1988 and the location even gave the classic rivalry game its name.
While the Iron Bowl no longer takes place in Legion Field, the Magic City Classic is a yearly favorite. This game between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University is the largest HBCU event in the nation. Talk about a field with a legacy.
8. The inventor of the windshield wiper, Mary Anderson, lived in Birmingham
Every time you use your windshield wipers on a rainy day, you can thank Mary Anderson. She was born in 1866 in Greene County and came up with the idea for the windshield wipers while visiting NYC.
Mary Anderson is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. In 2011, she was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame.
9. The dance floor in Saturday Night Fever was inspired by The Club
John Badham, the film director—and Indian Springs graduate—has shared that the colorful dance floor was inspired by The Club.
In 1999, John presented The Club with an autographed Saturday Night Fever poster.
10. Red Mountain Park is 40% larger than Central Park
Birmingham is known for its large green space with options like Railroad Park and Ruffner Mountain. Plus, Red Mountain Park is 40% larger than New York City’s Central Park so there’s no shortage of space to enjoy.
Whether you want to go for a hike or enjoy a cup of coffee in the fresh air, you’ll have plenty of green spaces in Birmingham to choose from.
11. Birmingham’s Barber Motorsports has the world’s largest motorcycle museum
According to Guinness World Records, Birmingham’s Barber Motorsports Park is the largest in the world. The museum features 1,398 unique exhibits and the world’s largest collection of vintage and contemporary motorcycles.
When George Barber received the honor, he said, “I want to use it as a tool to help bring more people to Birmingham.”
12. Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world
Nothing says Birmingham more than our beloved Vulcan statue. Beyond being a symbol of the Iron City, Vulcan is the world’s largest cast-iron statue.
The statue features the Roman god of metalworking to represent Birmingham’s place in the steel and iron industry. Birmingham Day is a great opportunity to celebrate all things Birmingham, so pay Vulcan a visit today.
13. Happy Birmingham Day—be sure to visit the “Heaviest Corner on Earth”
On the corner of 20th Street and 1st Avenue North, you’ll find the Heaviest Corner on Earth. The corner got its name because it was surrounded by four of the tallest buildings in the South at the time: John Hand, Woodward, Empire and Brown-Marx.
In 1985, the group of four buildings were listed as a historic district.
14. We celebrate Veterans Day because of a Birmingham veteran
In 1911, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th to be Armistice Day, and in 1945, World War II veteran and Birmingham native Raymond Weeks led a delegation to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans.
President Reagan gave Weeks a Presidential Citizenship Medal, and today when we celebrate Veterans Day, we can look back to a Birmingham citizen. Now, Birmingham’s Veterans Day Parade is the longest-lasting in the country.
15. There’s a famous story of an underground river in Birmingham—but it isn’t true
You might have heard of the 300ft-wide, underground river that runs underneath our city, thanks to the fictional stories of Joseph Mulhatton. In the late 1800s, Mulhatton wrote fictional stories to send to news organizations.
In 1884, the Birmingham Iron-Age published his report of the imagined underground river, “Underneath Us“. Even though his “discovery” was a tall tale, it continues to leave a legacy over a century later.