Birmingham, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, boasts a metropolitan
of a little over 1 million people. Founded in 1871 as a steel-making center, it exploded onto the
map almost overnight, quickly growing into Alabama's largest city and thus earning the nickname
of "The Magic City."
Today, Birmingham is a medical and financial center, as well as a cultural and heritage destination. Its vast selection of tourism attractions includes the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Southern Museum of Flight, Vulcan Park, McWane Center, Alabama Adventure Theme Park and the Birmingham Zoo, the state's largest.
The city is also famous for its beautiful golf courses, year-round calendar of entertainment, fabulous shopping and world-class dining. Birmingham is centrally located between Huntsville and Montgomery and serves as the major hub of air transportation in the state.
I remember as a kid growing up about 50 miles east of Birmingham. We were linked to Birmingham because of TV stations, Channel 6 and 13. That was our link to news and information. I was always fascinated by the big city and its attractions.
I remember going to Rickwood Field with my dad, Uncle Ralph, and cousins Pee and Paul to see the Birmingham Barons play. I cannot remember who the opposing team was but I do clearly remember a woman sitting near the front getting hit with a baseball.
We came back through town and I could see all those things I had been seeing on TV - 3rd Avenue, the Vulcan on Red Mountain, Alabama Theater, the Liberty Insurance Building with its Statue of Liberty. I even got my first elevator ride in Birmingham. I was the big cheese with that one.
Little did I know then that later in life I would live in Birmingham for two years. During my time there I saw a log of change going on. Birmingham was trying to improve its downtown image and compensate for some of the steel mill problems. Old buildings were being renovated and trees were being planted. During this last trip, I could see how the trees have really made a difference in the downtown area.