Located at 16th Street North across the street from Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church, this fascinating gallery tells the story of Birmingham's tragic and triumphant contributions to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. This state-of-the-art facility utilizes multimedia presentations, photographs and other artifacts to document the African American struggle for racial equality, and relates this history to other human rights struggles around the world. Admission is free on Sundays.
Birmingham's Railroad Park is a 19 acre (7.68 hectare) park that was created in 2010. The park has water features, trails, and lots of grassy areas for playing and picnicking. The park often plays hosts to special events and concerts throughout the year. A welcome slice of green amid the steely concrete of the city, this park is also a serene place for leisurely walks and jogging. Couples who frequent the park often cap off their walks with a nice snack at the Boxcar Cafe located within the park premises.
Red Mountain Park consists of 1500 acres (607.02 hectares) full of outdoor fun and excitement. In addition to the 11 hiking trails in the park, there are also zip-lining facilities, historic mines, three tree houses and the Hugh Kaul Beanstalk Forest and Kaul Adventure Tower. The park is one of Birmingham's favorite destinations for outdoor adventure.
Based on the Greek god Vulcan, the god's statue is the tallest cast iron statue in the world in the center of Birmingham’s Vulcan Park & Museum, which features educational tours and a soaring observation deck overlooking the city. The park also allows special events including marriages and other cultural events.
Birmingham's warm climate ensures that something is always blooming at the Botanical Gardens. Enjoy spring azaleas, summer roses, fall leaves and winter camellias as you tour the extensive grounds. Or, step inside the Southeast's largest clear-span glass greenhouse to enjoy orchids and other tropicals. Visit the Japanese Tea House and Garden and the Southern Living Garden, plus vegetable, fern, iris and other special gardens. Other attractions include the Gatehouse Gift Shop, a café and a library. Lectures, demonstrations, concerts and other events occur almost daily; inquire for a schedule. Admission is free. All paths are wheelchair and stroller-accessible.
The very genesis of Birmingham, Sloss Furnaces were one of the pioneers in the process of smelting pig iron. Established in 1882, it is this iron industry that prompted the city of Birmingham to grow around it. Over the years, the machinery has gathered abundant rust and experience, both of which tell stirring tales of the industry's glorious heyday. Proclaimed a National Historic Landmark, this antiquated site is an escape into the ancient industrial processes of the country. The site was restored in 1983, and, in addition to the impressive furnaces, there is an industrial museum, a sculpture garden, and a park which lend deeper insights into the history and legacy of Sloss Furnaces. The furnaces also play host to concerts, festivals, events, and activities.
Situated along 6th Avenue, the 16th Street Baptist Church is a beautiful church in the heart of the city. Conceptualized as early as 1873, it has had a long history. The initial building was demolished in 1908 and the current structure was built in 1911 by the famous Wallace Rayfield. During the Civil Rights Movement, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing killed four young girls. Today, the church continues to function with great vitality, and has also been declared a National Historic Landmark. Call to book individual or group tours.
Kelly Ingram Park is a treasure trove of sculptures occupying the heart of Birmingham. Formerly known as the West Park, the park served as the platform for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It is home to several sculptures that thoughtfully commemorate those who fought for racial equality. The bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, the 'Four Spirits' sculptures, and the 'I Ain't Afraid Of Your Jail are three of the park's standout sights. Thriving under the aegis of the 16th Street Baptist Church, this park is a beautiful amalgamation of history and culture.
Cradled in Downtown Birmingham, the Civil Right District is the center point of the state's long-standing history. The very site where several important events of the Civil Rights Movement were birthed, this historic district sprawls across six blocks. The district has witnessed many of the most significant happenstances of the Birmingham arm of the movement, including the fateful bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Kelly Ingram Park, which is also a part of the district, was the location of many demonstrations during the Civil Rights Movement. Numerous sculptures in the park commemorate the historical protests. Some of the most important sites in the district include the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Carver Theater, which has now been transformed into a live music venue, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Harboring several historical sites, the Civil Rights District reads out America's most significant chapter out loud.
Located in the historic Carver Theatre in the Civil Rights District, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame started in 1978 as a tribute to the truly American music form. Many beloved jazz musicians got their start in Alabama, and a surprising number of these came from Birmingham. In the early 20th Century, Birmingham was a training ground for these famed musicians. See exhibits devoted to such greats as Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins, Nat King Cole and Sun Ra. You can choose to tour all by yourself, or take a guided tour.
At a time when racial prejudice was at an all-time high, Alabama Penny Savings Bank offered African-Americans something almost unheard of: their own bank. Founded by William Reuben Pettiford in 1890, the Alabama Penny Savings Bank was the first black-owned bank in the state. Even more, they were the second largest black bank in the country, offering African-Americans the money they needed to finance homes, businesses, and churches. Before Alabama Penny Saving Bank closed in 1915, at one time, they conducted business as high as a half million dollars. Worth a visit to see an important piece of black history.