Alabama has a wealth of historical sites and hidden treasures, but Birmingham stands apart for several reasons. Since the city factored into both the Civil War and the fight for civil rights, visitors often feel the pull to pay homage to the soldiers and citizens who worked hard to change their world. Residents are only too happy to share the stories passed down from their families to supplement what you’ll learn during your visit. Explore the following four things history lovers can’t miss passing up in Birmingham.
Visit the Civil Rights District
Birmingham is more than a hotspot in the nation’s history. The city stands as a beacon of equality — and the fight for it. You can’t possibly love and understand Birmingham unless you walk through the Civil Rights District, a place where heroes fought for rights, acknowledgment, and fair and equal treatment as they sought to abolish unjust laws.
The district includes the Civil Rights Institute and Museum. Stop by Kelly Ingram Park and pay your respects at the 16th Street Baptist Church. You’ll appreciate the time you spend in the Civil Rights District.
Learn About Birmingham’s Steel Legacy
The steel industry was once an integral part of Birmingham’s economy. In particular, the Sloss Furnaces operated for almost 100 years — from 1882–1971. Today, visitors can take guided tours after visiting the city’s national monument. Today, Sloss Furnaces are immortalized by the artwork of local metal sculptures. The steel shed is now an amphitheater where music enthusiasts can listen to concerts and attend events.
Stroll Through Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
Birmingham played a significant role in the Civil War. Tannehill Ironworks is the place where Confederate soldiers went when they needed more iron. However, on March 31, 1865, the Union army burned both the ironworks and the cabins of the workers who labored here.
Today, the site is a fully functioning state park. Visitors can go horseback riding or hiking, enjoy a picnic, go camping, and discover history through the iron museum. Sadler Plantation House resides in the park as well. It survived the Civil War and stands as an example of plantation architecture. The house itself is so attractive that you may want to move in immediately. Failing that, check out the hotels around Birmingham when you’re looking for places to stay. You can likely find accommodations just as genteel.
Head to the Vulcan Statue
The Vulcan Statue is not a memorial to Spock. It is, however, the largest cast-iron statue in the world. Created from local iron in 1904, the statue has been in place on top of Red Mountain since the ’30s. Owing its modern existence to a massive fundraiser, the statue has been preserved for public display. The Vulcan Park and Museum surrounds it now.
Birmingham is history. You can barely take a step in the city without stumbling over a story deeply linked to the history of the nation. Couple that element with the welcoming hospitality of the locals, and Birmingham makes one vacation you won’t want to end.